PORTLAND, Maine — A blend of boxing’s past and present will be on display when professional prizefighting returns to the Portland Exposition Building on Saturday night.
Five professional bouts and two amateur fights are scheduled for the 7:30 p.m. card, the first involving pro bouts in Portland in 21 years, according to promoter Bobby Russo of the Portland Boxing Club.
In addition, former world champions Roberto Duran, Vinnie Paz and Tony DeMarco — who fought twice in the Expo more than 60 years ago — will be in attendance.
“There’s a tremendous buzz about the show,” said Russo. “People have been really excited about this since the time we announced it [in October]. There’s been quite the buzz, and a lot of the talk has been about the old Expo days.
“I think it’s going to sell out,” he said.
Headlining the show will be an eight-round battle for the IBA Americans superfeatherweight championship between undefeated Ryan Kielczweski (17-0) of Quincy, Mass., and Jose Hernandez of Atlanta, Ga. Kielczweski last fought in July when he scored a knockout of previously unbeaten Miguel Soto as part of an ESPN “Friday Night Fights” card.
Undefeated Russell Lamour (5-0) of Portland will face Brazilian Deivison Ribeiro, a veteran of more than 30 mixed martial arts fights, in a six-round middleweight bout, while Lamour’s Portland Boxing Club teammate Jorge Abiague, a former national Golden Gloves bantamweight champion, will seek to improve his 3-0 professional record.
Another pro fight will have Brandon “The Cannon” Berry of West Forks battling Paul Souza of Somerville, Mass., in a junior welterweight bout. Berry is 3-0 since turning pro earlier this year in Skowhegan, where he won the first professional boxing match held in Maine since 2005.
A third Portland Boxing Club pro, Biddeford welterweight Jimmy Smith, also will be in action. Smith recently completed an eight-year stint in the Marine Corps that included two tours of duty in Iraq. He was a three-time New England Champion as an amateur and was named outstanding boxer in the 2009 New England Golden Gloves tournament.
Duran was a world champion in four different weight divisions but is best known for his two 1980 title bouts against Sugar Ray Leonard. Duran scored a 15-round unanimous decision over Leonard on June 20 of that year to win the WBC welterweight championship, but Leonard regained the title on Nov. 25 when Duran stopped fighting in the eighth round of the so-called “no mas” fight.
The Panamanian, who scored 103 professional wins during his career, was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.
Duran will be available at the Expo for autographs and photos from 6 to 9 p.m.
Paz (Pazienza) was a five-time world champion from Rhode Island who twice defeated Duran by decision in 1994 and 1995, late in Duran’s career.
Paz already is familiar with the Portland boxing scene, having been the Portland Boxing Club’s special guest last year at the USA Boxing New England championships it hosted.
The Boston-based DeMarco, now 81, fought twice at the Expo in 1951, scoring a second-round knockout of Ken Murray and an eight-round unanimous decision over Larry Griffin.
Russo is hopeful a successful show on Saturday — seating capacity is 3,000 — might set the stage for a future nationally televised show at the Expo.
Tickets are on sale in advance at PortTix.com or at Bruno’s Restaurant, 33 Allen Ave., Portland. Doors open at 6 p.m. on fight night.