Into the ring

Hagerstown concert venue hosts boxing event

Hagerstown concert venue hosts boxing event

August 27, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

The Hager Hall Conference Center & Event Complex is known for concerts and country line dancing, but, tonight, any dancing will be going on inside a boxing ring.

Twelve boxers will go at it during an event billed as Ballroom Boxing. The lineup includes three undefeated Beltway boxers headlining the card, said Jennifer Hare, co-owner of the venue.

Hager Hall is part of the Cancun Cantina West complex - the same complex that snagged country legend Charlie Daniels for a gig this October. Hager Hall was the same place that hosted Poison frontman Bret Michaels toward the tail end of his "Rock of Love" reality show series on VH1.

So why put a 22-foot-square boxing ring in the center of a 16,000-square-foot ballroom?

Hare's explanation was simple: "It hasn't been done."

She said she and the other organizers were banking on the popularity of combat sports in the region. They are already planning to bring a mixed-martial-arts match to Hagerstown this fall.


But for tonight, the aim is to provide a legitimate boxing experience, she said, "... Instead of walking into a sparring-match kind of thing."

For $1,000, spectators can purchase one of two ringside tables, ones close enough for you to feel splatters of the boxers' sweat and blood."Cover your beverages," Hare said.

But for all else, there are nearly 800 seats, at a cost of $30, $50 or $100, with the most expensive getting you closer to the ring.

Hare said to expect all the theatrics of a televised boxing match, with ring girls, an announcer, lights, a DJ and the smoke machine that adds drama to a boxer's entrance to the ring.

"We're playing it up," Hare said.

Ballroom boxing lineup

o James "Keep 'Em Sleepin'" Stevenson (10-0, nine KO's) vs. Tom Joseph (4-2-1)

The dish: Charm-city boxer Stevenson is the newly-crowned WBF Americas and NABC welterweight champion and is coming off his third-round TKO over Ken Dunham on July 25 in Baltimore. Joseph, of Youngstown, Ohio, was stopped in the first round by Demetrius Andrade on March 6 in Uncasville, Conn.

o Alexander "The Great" Johnson (5-0, three KO's) vs. Ariel "Iron" Espinal (6-9-2, two KO's)

The dish: Light heavyweight Johnson, of Oxon Hill, Md., will fight for the first time in more than a year. Espinal, who's from Brooklyn, has lost seven straight, including a four-round unanimous decision to Naziyr Bell on Aug. 1 in York, Pa.

o George "El Gallo" Armenta (12-4, 10 KO's) vs. William Johnson (9-18-1, three KO's)

The dish: Armenta is from Silver Spring, Md., and is a popular boxer in the area; best known for his fourth-round TKO over Dante Craig in March 2004. His last contest was a 10-round unanimous decision loss to Sechew Powell in 2004. The previous bout for Johnson, of Memphis, Tenn., was in November 2008, when he lost by second-round TKO to Joey Gilbert.

o Francisco Contreras (9-0, nine KO's) vs. Julian Rodriguez (17-16-4, 11 KO's)

The dish: Undefeated junior welterweight Contreras, who is Dominican, scored a first-round knockout over Gustavo Mejia on June 19 at Michael's Eighth Avenue. Rodriguez, who's from Mexico, will try to bounce back from a fourth-round knockout loss to Juan Ramon Cruz in Puerto Rico on April 24.

o Andres Taylor (9-1-1, five KO's) vs. Joseph Harris (10-8, seven KO's)

The dish: Cruiserweight Taylor, of Johnstown, Pa., stopped Roy Ashworth in the fifth round on Aug. 1 in York, Pa. His opponent, Harris, of Union City, Tenn., has a four-bout winning streak but hasn't fought since April 2008.

o Emmanuel "Transformer" Taylor (2-0, two KO's) vs. TBD

The dish: The welterweight from Edgewood, Md., is slated for a four-round bout, but his opponent has not yet been named.

If you go ...

What: Ballroom Boxing

Where: Hager Hall Conference Center & Event Complex, 901 Dual Highway, Hagerstown. Next to the Clarion Hotel near the corner of Eastern Boulevard and Dual Highway.

When: Today, Thursday, Aug. 27, Doors open at 6 p.m. First fight at 8 p.m.

Cost: $30, $50 and $100. VIP ringside tables cost $1,000. Tickets are also available at the door. For tickets, call Hager Hall, at 301-797-9004, or go to, or Barefoot Bernie's. Call 410-766-7474 for the VIP package.

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