Is the Once Hotbed of Boxing On the Way Out In Delaware?
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Is the Once Hotbed of Boxing On the Way Out In Delaware?
By Ken Hissner and David Ruff, Doghouse Boxing (July 17, 2014)

Boxing Gloves
The first boxing match in Delaware was on January 22nd in 1887 when Jack Ashton of RI defeated Bill Gabig of Pittsburgh over 4 rounds at the Carroll’s Casino of Music, in Wilmington, DE. They had 9 shows that year mostly at the Grand Central Theater and all in Wilmington. They didn’t continue boxing in the state again until 1894.

The Dover Downs Casino started promoting boxing in March of 2001 and have been the busiest promoter in the state ever since. Lisa Rollins who is a publicist for Dover Downs informed us that there will be no more boxing there at least for the rest of 2014. The last show they promoted was November 22nd of 2013. They since rented the facility to Champs Management who ran 2 shows this year. The second show had reportedly about 90 tickets sold at the box office.

The PA boxing commission was forced out of Delaware and replaced by the VA commission allowing the house matchmaker to bring in most any “opponents” for the locals he wanted. This meant the locals had more than their usual 10% edge. The local fans got tired of this.

In the past 20 years there have been 3 boxers who were considered main event boxers able to draw the people in. One was Henry “Hank” Milligan, 17-3-1 (15) who retired in 1998. Another was Mike “No Joke” Stewart, 48-8-3 (25) who was 9-1-1 at Dover Downs losing his last fight there in May of 2012 and retiring. The third was NJ transplant Amir Mansour, 20-1 (15). He was 6-0 at Dover. Once he signed with a Philadelphia manager and promoter it was good-bye to DE. His 2 fights since were in Atlantic City and Philadelphia. The casino was offered a deal by his one-time manager Keith Stoffer but it was reported one of the former DE boxers who will go unnamed that served on the non-working commission advised the casino not to sign him.

Mansour last fought at Dover Downs on August 23rd of 2013. When the local matchmaker was requested to find someone ranked by the USBA in order for Mansour to fight for their vacant title but he couldn’t come up with one. When we gave his manager a name that should be available at No. 10 to get he said he was “retired”. It took another DE matchmaker to find this boxer so they could have a main event title fight. The house matchmaker lashed out at the press causing their May 9th show to only have 2 writers show up.

Champs Management headlined with Philadelphia’s “New” Ray Robinson who is a very good boxer but not able to bring the fan’s out. Cornelius Lock was brought in as a co-feature fighter from Detroit and posted a pair of wins but was stopped on their last show at Dover.

Joey Tiberi, 12-2 (6) hadn’t fought anyone with a winning record in all his 13 fights so rumor had it the usually agreeable VA commission urged the matchmaker to bring in someone with a winning record. So Ty Samuels, 14-5-1 who was inactive since 2012 was brought in and defeated Tiberi.

Joey’s father/trainer Joe Tiberi, 18-5-2 (13) was a good puncher scoring knockouts in 13 of his 18 wins. Though 4 of his first 5 fights were in DE in 1977 he didn’t return to the state until his last fight in 1984.

Currently Omar “Super O” Douglas, 12-0 (9), is the best prospect in the state with all his fights being at Dover Downs. He didn’t appear on the February show possibly because he rejected Champs Management’s offer to sign with them. They did put him on their May show.

Kyrone “Shut It Down” Davis, 3-0 (2), turned professional in February at Dover Downs. He since got signed by Al Haymon which means he may not fight in DE again. Since his debut in DE he fought in Atlantic City and Indio, CA. He is a very good prospect at just 19. Another DE fighter “Rockin” Ryan Belasco, 18-6-3 (3), was 7-1-1 at Dover Downs but hasn’t fought there since May of 2012.

Mike Tiberi, 21-1 (7), only fought once in the past 2 years and that was in 2013 at Dover. Though he was 11-0 at Dover only 7 out of his 22 opponents had winning records and the fans seemed to be getting bored with the same caliber of opponents. Anthony Caputo Smith, 15-3 (10) was one of the more popular non-Delaware boxers brought in from nearby Kennett Square, PA. He won 10 straight at Dover Downs before losing in August of 2012 and was never brought back.

In 2013 several of Champs Management’s fighters were brought in. From VA Frankie Filippone, 16-4-1 (3), was 2-0 at Dover and 1-1 at a pair of other sites CM promoted. From Philadelphia they brought in Dennis Hasson, 16-1 (6), against southpaw Daniel Judah. When the matchmaker was questioned by us why a southpaw for Hasson’s debut at Dover he blamed his brother-manager of Hasson for picking Judah. Though he won every round he didn’t win the crowd over. Since, Hasson broke away from CM over a disputed contract causing him to be inactive for 20 months and then signing with Haymon.

DE has never had a world champion though several of their boxers have fought for championships like “Wilmington” Jack Daly, 38-11-23, who drew in 20 rounds with George “Kid” Lavigne, 33-0-8 for his world lightweight title in 1898. “Whistling” Willie Roache, then 34-38-4 got a rematch with then NBA Featherweight champion Sal Bartolo losing over 15 rounds in December of 1944. Dave Tiberi, 22-3-3 (7) lost a disputed decision to IBF middleweight champion James “Lights Out” Toney in February of 1992. Tiberi would retire after that fight and some accused him of “capitalizing on a defeat”!

In April of 2004 Stewart lost to Sharmba Mitchell for the interim light welterweight title in the UK. Then 6 months later he returned to the UK losing to Ricky Hatton for the WBU light welterweight title. Though called world title fights they were lesser organizations.

Dave Tiberi who is Robinson’s manager put out an article recently claiming Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are “ducking Robinson by hiding under their beds” causing a chuckle among boxing people! It seemed like a sign of desperation to get a title fight.

Through creative matchmaking and basically knowing whose going to win (90% of the time) along with high ticket prices we think DE has priced itself out of the boxing business. We also feel that DE had a deep boxing history but to continue it possibly needs other promoters and matchmakers using a variety of different fighters.

We’ve seen other promoters in nearby states promote pro-am shows in order to keep their costs down. One problem in that is DE no longer has what was a one-time rich amateur program. In the past they also had an active commission but no longer have one. In order to keep DE boxing alive it needs to make changes. Possibly by having smaller venues with fighters not out pricing themselves would help. This brings about the question is Delaware boxing on the way out?

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