Top Rank's Arum considers Selland Arena for HBO fight card

The Fresno BeeMay 29, 2014 

An HBO boxing show at Selland Arena?

The Fresno venue -- which drew 6,100 for the "Fight for Water 2" card May 17 -- is one of two in the nation under consideration for an Aug. 2 installment of HBO's "Boxing After Dark," according to Top Rank CEO Bob Arum.

Also in the hunt is The Cosmopolitan hotel-casino in Las Vegas, which can seat 3,000 for boxing.

A decision will be made within a week, said Arum, who almost closed a deal last week with The Cosmopolitan. A snag developed after it was purchased this month by private equity giant Blackstone Group for $1.7 billion.

"They had a change of ownership and that put everything on hold," Arum said. "I think it would be something special to bring an HBO show to Fresno."

Promoter Rick Mirigian is hoping Top Rank works out a deal with Selland because of boxing's popularity in the central San Joaquin Valley. Mirigian represents 2012 Olympian Jose Ramirez, the "Fight for Water 2" headliner.

"Gives our city and our fighters' worldwide exposure," he said. "Injects the downtown economy with revenue."

Said Fresno Convention Center General Manager Bill Overfelt, an employee of arena management company SMG: "I would love to have an HBO fight here."

Arum said former lightweight champion Brandon Rios (31-2-1, 23 KOs), 28, of Oxnard, would headline the card. Jessie Vargas (24-0, nine KOs), 25, of Las Vegas, would defend his welterweight title.

Ramirez (10-0, eight KOs) of Avenal also would fight, Arum said.

Rios' trainer, Robert Garcia, said he would like to see his boxer fight in California and praised Mirigian for his work in developing Fresno as a national venue.

"What he's done with music, and now boxing, it's great," Garcia said. "It shows Top Rank and the boxing world that he's doing a great job by bringing these events to Fresno and by putting a lot of people in (the seats). Imagine an HBO championship boxing card? If they do something like that, that would be awesome."

Arum was impressed by "Fight for Water 2."

"Great audience, great show," he said. "Exciting fight and everyone was into it. Jose Ramirez looked terrific."

One World card

Joe Louie Lopez of Fresno will fight on the One World Boxing card June 12 at the Fresno Ballroom, 1060 Fulton Mall.

The card is dubbed "Throwback Thursday -- A Tribute to the Old School."

Lopez (3-0, 2 KOs) is coming off a first-round KO of Jesus Lopez this month.

The card begins at 7:30 p.m., with tickets $45-$85.

Details: (559) 301-3113.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6042, agalaviz@fresnobee.com or @agalaviz_TheBee on Twitter.

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