SALEM, NH (September 15, 2015)- International Boxing Hall of Fame referee Steve Smoger returns to New Hampshire to referee the New England Heavyweight Championship, which will be contested as part of a stellar night of boxing presented by Big Six Entertainment and includes a fitting tribute to former WBU champion “Irish” Micky Ward on October 3 at Rockingham Park.
Smoger, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in June in his first year on the ballot, was the third man in the ring on July 13, 2001 at the Hampton Beach Casino when Ward defeated Emanuel Augustus by unanimous decision on his way to winning the light welterweight championship.
The Ward-Augustus bout would be judged the Ring Magazine Fight of the Year for 2001.
“My relationship with Steve spans some 20 plus years,” said Al Valenti, the promoter for the October 3 event at the racetrack. “This past June was a thrill for me and a few of us boxing guys from New England. We traveled to Canastota, New York and attended Steve’s induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame. He is the best referee in the world today and is a friend for life.”
Smoger, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport and the rules and has earned a reputation for fairness in the ring, worked the July 2013 boxing card at Rockingham Park that was televised on ESPN2 and he was invited back by New Hampshire Boxing Commission Chairman Bobby Stephen.
“I’m so happy that Steve accepted Bobby’s invitation to referee this event and be part of Micky Ward’s tribute. After all, Steve was the third man in the ring for Micky and Emanuel. It turned out to be the Fight of the Year and one of the best fights that I was ever involved in. Believe me, Steve was a big part of that great fight, and in a good way,” Valenti said.
The main event marks the highly-anticipated return of Lawrence, MA’s Alexis Santos (14-1, 13 KO’s) to the ring after battling back from injury and he takes on Boston’s Tracey Johnson (3-2-3) with the New England Heavyweight title on the line.
The evening will also be a celebration of Ward’s 50th birthday and a tribute to the beloved Lowell, MA native, who still lives in the city and owns a boxing gym there. Ward’s inspirational life story was made into the 2010 Academy Award-winning movie “The Fighter.”
The under card features some of the top local talent with boxers from Massachusetts and New Hampshire battling in different weight divisions.
Doors to the Rockingham Park Sports Club open at 6 PM and the first fight will get underway at 7 PM. Tickets are $35, $45 and $75 for ringside seating, and parking at the racetrack is free.
Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by calling 617-312-5059, and more information may be found at facebook.com/groups/bigsixentertainment. Tickets are also available for cash-only purchase at Rockingham Park.
The card, subject to change, is:
8 rounds New England Heavyweight Championship/Main Event
Alexis Santos (14-1, 13 KO’s) vs. Tracey Johnson (3-2-3)
Lawrence, MA Boston, MA
6 rounds light welterweight 140 lbs
Carlos Candelario (6-1, 3 KO’s) vs. TBA
6 rounds middleweight 160 lbs
Greg Vendetti (6-2-1, 4 KO’s) vs. Brian Walsh (1-1)
Stoneham, MA Dorchester, MA
6 rounds light middleweight 154 lbs
Eddie Caminero (7-9, 7 KO’s) vs. Antonio Chaves Fernandez
Lawrence, MA Brockton, MA (5-22-2)
6 rounds light middleweight 154 lbs
Jay Kelly (3-0, 2 KO’s vs. Jimmy LeBlanc (13-15-4)
Dorchester, MA Weymouth, MA
4 rounds light heavyweight 180 lbs
Kevin Cobbs (9-1, 3 KO’s) vs. Ralph Johnson (2-5, 1 KO)
Burlington, VT Worchester, MA
4 rounds heavyweight
O’Jayland Brown (1-1, 1 KO) vs. TBA
4 rounds bantamweight 118 lbs
Mike Martin (0-1) vs. TBA