New England's hottest, most popular and hardest hitter, Richard "Popeye The Sailor Man" Rivera,will defend his Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) All America light heavyweight title at home on Hartford Boxing Promotions' inaugural event, "Fight Night at the Capital", June 16th at Xfinity Centre in Hartford, Connecticut.
Rivera (7-0, 6 KOs) has partnered with his trainer, Tony Blanco, and Hartford Boxing Center gym co-owner, Michael Tran, to form Hartford Boxing Promotions and bring world-class boxing back to Hartford.
Boxing's rich roots in the Hartford market dates back nearly a full century, headlined by International Hall of Famers Willie "Will o' the Wisp" Pep and Christopher "Battling" Battalino.
Other top-area boxers include world champion Marlon "Magic Man" Starling, world title challengers Gaspar "El Indio" Ortega, and Israel "Pito" Cardona, and 1996 USA Olympic Boxing Team captain Lawrence Clay-Bey.
Rivera will take on Jaime "Zarco" Solorio (12-3-2, 9 KOs) in the eight-round main event versus an opponent to be determined.
"There's a lot of pressure fighting at home because, of course, I want a victory, but I also need to be impressive for me to be recognized," Rivera said. "I'm all about boxing. My partners, Tony and Michael, take care of the business end of Hartford Boxing Promotions. I'm excited about fighting June 16th and I expect a great turnout. A lot of people know who I am from fighting all over New England. Now, I want to expand my horizons. I have a huge following from our gym and church, but I want to bring non-boxing fans to our show to make them boxing fans.
"There's no such thing as an easy fight. It all starts with training, which makes fighting easier. I may get an early knockout, but I always train to go the distance. My opponent has fought on television a few times against some fighters with good records. I know that I am going to be in a fight. I'll be ready for war!"
This past April in New Hampshire, Rivera hit his opponent, Randy Campbell, so hard with a powerful right, that the force broke Campbell's ankle only seconds into the contest.
"Fighting is a way of life," Rivera explained. "All the training and fighting, it's for the love of boxing, not money. Fighting never leaves a boxer."
Rivera originally got his nickname because, when he was younger, his forearms were considerably larger than his biceps. Fighters in the gym jokingly teased Rivera about his enlarged forearms, calling him "Popeye," and the nickname has stuck. Now, Rivera showcases his Popeye persona in full, which has added many females and children to his growing fanbase of hardcore boxing fans. June 16th will open a new chapter in the life of for the man who's always good to the finish because he eats his spinach.
In the co-featured event, undefeated Danbury, CT lightweight Omar "The Beast" Bordoy, Jr. (5-0, 1 KO) will be in his first scheduled six-rounder against. Alexander "El Bravo" Picot (2-5-1), fighting out of Hartford by way of Puerto Rico.
"The Special One," Sharad Collier, fighting out of Hartford, is competing this week Omaha (NE) at the National Golden Gloves Championships, before returning home to turn pro in a four-round Special Junior Welterweight Attraction versus an opponent to be determined.
Also fighting on the undercard, all in four-round bouts, are Hartford featherweight Luis "Lobito" Rivera (4-3) vs. Phillip Davis (1-1-1), of Worcester, MA; pro-debuting New Haven, CT lightweight Anuel Rosa vs. Cleveland's Roger Blankenship (1-3), New Britain, CT featherweight Nathan Martinez in his professional debut vs. New Bedford's (MA) Henry Garcia (0-1), Hartford lightweight Jose Maysonet vs. Justin Morales, of New Bedford, MA, in a battle of pro-debut fighters, and another pair of pro debut fighters, Bridgeport, CT featherweight Jacob Marrero vs. Jimmy Santiago, of New York City, and New Haven junior welterweight prospect Jeffrey Torres (4-0, 2 KOs) vs. TBA..
All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Tickets, priced at $80.00, $60.00 and $40.00, are on sale and available to purchase, as well as $125.00 VIP tickets that include food and soft drinks), at Ticket Master outlets or at the Hartford Boxing Center gym.