FLATBUSH – Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal promotion company will stage the first of a series of boxing matches at the Kings Theatre on Saturday, March 10. According to Real Deal COO Eric Bentley, the partnership with the venue will bring at least four events to the historic Brooklyn site in 2018, providing local fighters an opportunity to perform consistently in front of hometown fans.
The first showcase features undefeated super middleweight Edgar Berlanga, welterweight Julian Sosa, Devon Lee, Matthew Gonzalez and other up-and-coming talent.
20-year-old Berlanga, dubbed “The Chosen One,” will square off against Haitian Elie Augustama. Sosa is fighting Wilmer Rodriguez in an 8-round bout. Another highlight of the card is the third professional fight of the currently undefeated former Golden Gloves champion Justin Biggs, “The Brooklyn Torch.”
The choice of Kings Theatre came after an intensive search for an appropriate site. “We saw places where the ceilings were too low, where there were bad sightlines, places with no dressing rooms. Kings has everything you need for a successful show,” Bentley explained.
The suggestion to look at Kings came from Long Island boxer Tommy “The Razor” Rainone, who gave Bentley a call when he heard Real Deal was looking for a place to stage fights in Brooklyn. Bentley figured the Westbury welterweight might have a good lead. One of the highlights of Rainone’s career was a unanimous decision over Jaime Morales at Philadelphia’s Blue Horizon—named the world’s number one boxing venue by The Ring magazine.
Bentley followed up Rainone’s call with one of his own to Kings’ general manager Tyler Bates, who responded enthusiastically. “The Kings Theatre is very excited to bring boxing to Flatbush. We are thrilled to be adding boxing to an already diverse program here at Kings. We are proud to support the local boxing community and feel that Kings is the perfect home for the sport,” Bates said.
While boxing is often presented in the round, the Real Deal shows at Kings will feature a 12-inch platform ring similar to the setup used when bouts are staged at Radio City Music Hall.
Real Deal was founded last year by four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and longtime New York boxing promoter Sal Musumeci. Holyfield is following in the footsteps of ten-time champion Oscar De La Hoya, whose Golden Boy Promotions became one of the sport’s most successful. Each boxer adopted the nickname he acquired in the sport to identify his promoting enterprise.
Holyfield doesn’t see himself in competition with the other athlete’s firm, but “his goal is to be the best promoter out there,” according to Bentley. Holyfield said he sees Real Deal as an opportunity for him to give something back to the sport and benefit current fighters. “He learned a lot over his career,” Bentley said, “and he thought it would be sinful not to pass down that knowledge.”
Bentley pointed to “The Real Deal Medical,” one of the company’s initiatives, as an example of Holyfield’s determination to help young boxers. Fighters signed to the company will have a team of physicians to provide them with consistent medical care and maintain a medical history that will track any changes in their physical or mental health.
“The whole reason I got into the promotion game was to be the best and to do right by the fighters,” Holyfield said. “This initiative demonstrates to the boxers and the rest of the world that we not only want what’s best for them during their careers, but we want what’s best for them beyond their careers.”
Bentley said, “I’ve had the opportunity to observe the sport from both the promotional and the regulatory side. Many fighters don’t have health coverage and the only time most of them see a doctor is when they fight. Each state has a different roster of physicians, as well as inconsistent medical requirements and standards. There is no way for there to be an efficient way to track each fighters’ history from state-to-state, fight-to-fight, and we’re going to change that. These athletes are risking their lives every time they step in the gym and step in the ring; we owe it to them to make sure they go home to their loved ones and do the best we can to make sure they’re able to live their lives comfortably once their careers are over.”