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MGM National Harbor becoming strong player on the boxing scene

NATIONAL HARBOR – The boxing fans in the DMV wondered how the new MGM National Harbor Resort and Casino would fit in with local boxing promoters.

Would it attract the big time promotion companies to Oxon Hill and bring HBO and Showtime, their TV partners, with them?

The first show on April 8 turned out to be a step in the right direction and was a huge success. Two local fighters, Mike Reed and Patrick Harris, sold out the event and remained undefeated in the ring.

The next show, last Friday, brought out the skeptics. There were questions like, “who would show up to see fighters that were not household names?” and “could the excitement match the first boxing show at the new venue?”

The answer was yes.

A near sellout crowd of 2,169 came to see four fighters from Baltimore on the card. The arena was full of fans wearing Orioles and Ravens gear and yelling chants of “B-more” over and over.

The most prolific local promoter, Keystone Promotions, and its owner, Ross Molivinsky, were quite pleased with the venue.

“For us, it does not mean as much as it means for outside promoters like Banner, Top Rank and Golden Boy,” he said. “They have the relationship with the MGM in Vegas, which really runs this whole facility and makes the entertainment choices.

“It also helps us, too. It gets the appetite for boxing up and when we do our local shows we can feed off of it a little bit. The big promoters also use us for the ring setup, ring card girls, transportation and other logistical things.”

The most excitement came from the pro debut of Hasim Rahman, Jr. His dad was once the heavyweight champion of the world, best known for his devastating knock out of champion Lennox Lewis. He was proud of his son’s effort.

“I thought his effort was excellent,” he said. “I thought he was composed after the guy came out throwing a lot of shots. My son turned southpaw on him and finished the night.”

Rahman, Jr. scored a knockout at 40 seconds into the first round over Ralph Alexander of Lanham.

Next up for the MGM will be Gary Russell, Jr. defending his championship in the featherweight division on May 20. The fight will be shown on Showtime Championship Boxing.

The MGM Hotel and Casino is just getting started.

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