Monessen native to fight at Consol Energy Center tonight
August 8, 2014 12:00 AM
Former Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson shakes hands with fighter Monty Meza Clay of Rankin during a press conference Thursday at The Boiler Room on Banksville Road for The Pride of Pittsburgh boxing event at Consol Energy Center this weekend. Local product Sammy Vasquez Jr. is at far right.
By Saul Berrios-Thomas / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Two dreams on the verge of becoming realities and one meteoric rise with no end in sight will play out this weekend.
Hall of Fame boxer Mike Tyson will bring boxing back to Pittsburgh tonight at Consol Energy Center with his Iron Mike Productions card. Sammy Vasquez Jr. (15-0, 11 KOs) of Monessen will headline the first boxing event at Consol.
The main event for the vacant USBA welterweight title pits Vasquez, 28, against Baltimore native James Stevenson (21-0, 14 KOs), in another chapter of the Pittsburgh-Baltimore rivalry.
Stevenson, 31, provides tough opposition for Vasquez in the fight, which is part of the card that will air live on Fox Sports 1.
“He is a slick boxer,” Vasquez said.
Even though Vasquez is on a six-fight knockout streak he doesn’t feel the need to finish the fight early.
“If the opportunity presents itself, then I take it,” he said. “If it goes 10 rounds then I’m going to be stepping on the gas for all 10 rounds.”
Vasquez is climbing up the ranks and said the next step is tonight.
“In this game you have got to get up to contender status. Hopefully, after this fight when we win this title that will put us in contender status, but we are taking it one fight at a time,” he said.
Rod Salka (19-3, 3 KOs), who has already attained contender status, will fight Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Salka of Bunola, Pa., will face the undefeated Danny Garcia (28-0, 16 KOs) on the Golden Boy Promotions card, which will air live on Showtime.
Salka is not changing his formula for this fight.
“My strategy is always the same no matter who I am fighting: Get myself in the best possible shape and be the best possible me,” he said.
Salka is not upset that he is the B-side or the underdog.
“That happens to every single fighter when you step up. Danny Garcia was the B-side not too long ago,” Salka said. “I don’t have any expectations other than winning the fight.”
Garcia, from Philadelphia, who is the reigning WBC and WBA welterweight champion, put the matchup in simple terms.
“He’s got two hands, I’ve got two hands and we are going to fight,” he said.
The fight is being contested at a catch weight of 142 pounds, which means Garcia’s titles cannot change hands.
“It is what it is,” Salka said. “I would rather it be for the titles but … I’m fighting the best fighter in the world at 140 pounds.
“It doesn’t matter if I can put a belt on after the fight. I can take my purse and go buy a thousand belts after the fight.”
Also featured on the Iron Mike Productions card is Monty Meza-Clay (35-3, 21 KOs), who will face Alan Herrera (32-6, 21 KOs) of Sinaloa, Mexico, in a special attraction fight.
“You see my surgeries,” Meza-Clay said, pointing to his right elbow, adding: “I just got a procedure done three or four weeks ago on my right shoulder.”
Then, pointing to his left elbow, he counted two more surgeries before examining his weathered hands. “Broken hand, right thumb bigger than the left thumb, fractured the hand three or four times, and I feel all of this. But when its time for it to come together it will.”
Meza-Clay, a Rankin native, said this is the opportunity to get his career to the next level.
“I conquered the throne in Pittsburgh years ago. I will catapult beyond everybody. I have a statement to make and I will be making it on Aug. 8,” he said. “The love for the sport is what keeps me going. This is my best shot.”
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