Por Maria Sonnenberg
Para Al Día Today
PALM BAY — Three years ago, Victoria Northrup, president and CEO of the Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce, snagged a ticket to the first World Championship Boxing matches that All Star Boxing had brought to Palm Bay.
Northrup so loved the experience that she vowed to encourage the Chamber to get involved.
“It was a fun, fun event,” she said.
The Greater Palm Bay Chamber is indeed involved as the World Championship Boxing Matches return to Palm Bay Feb. 22 for a one-night event that will serve to showcase Palm Bay to the rest of the world. The first fight begins at 8:30 p.m. at the city’s Community Center, 1502 Port Malabar Blvd. NE.
“This high-profile event will once again place Palm Bay in the international spotlight,” said Northrup.
The matches are televised by Telemundo/NBC broadcast to 62 countries around the world.
“We are bringing Las Vegas-quality professional championship boxing to the Palm Bay community,” said Ruben de Jesus, director of operations for All Star Boxing.
“Palm Bay is a boxing town. There is such a passion for the sport there.”
Although Telemundo is primarily known as Latino market network, the boxing matches draw interest from a cross-section of the community.
“Palm Bay is a melting pot, and boxing interests people from many backgrounds and crosses all boundaries,” said de Jesus.
De Jesus promises a blood-pumping lineup of boxers from a variety of weight classes. Headliners are Jose Nieves of Puerto Rico and Danny Flores from Mexico, who will fight for the international bantamweight title.
“For some reason, when you put two fighters in the ring from those two countries, it draws a lot of attention, because it is usually a very good fight,” said Northrup.
Local fighters in the lineup include William Pagan, Shawn Guzman, Pernell Mitchell, Kerry Parks, all from Palm Bay, and Isaac Holder from Melbourne.
“We will also have fighters from all over the country,” said de Jesus.
In addition to the ringside fun and the world-wide exposure for Palm Bay, a World Championship Boxing event injects significant revenue into the city.
“We estimate a $1.5 million economic impact,” said Northrup.
Last year, the network production crew, athletes, trainers and other staff members secured more than 350 room nights at Palm Bay hotels.
“This excluded fans that traveled from surrounding parts of the state,” said de Jesus.
“The economic impact is substantial.”
Previous success of these events has led All Star Boxing to consider increasing the number of boxing matches to three a year in the future.
“We want to expand, to grow along with the community,” said de Jesus.
The primary demographics for the television audiences worldwide are men in the 18 to 49-year-old bracket, the husbands and fathers who make the decision on where their families will vacation. Supporters hope they will choose Palm Bay.
“Events such as this will raise our profile around the world as a premier travel destination and provide a boost to local businesses,” said U.S. Congressman Bill Posey.
Tickets for the event are $20 for stands and $35 for ringside. Purchase advance tickets at Chamber website of greaterpalmbaychamber.com or by phone at 321-951-9998. Subject to availability, tickets may also be purchased at the door.