After nearly a century of existence, the famed Roseland Ballroom is closing its doors. Slated to host its final event (a Lady Gaga concert) in April, the venues final boxing show will be held tomorrow night courtesy of Lou DiBella’s Broadway Boxing, headlined by light middleweight Boyd Melson (13-1-1, 4 KO’s) facing late replacement Donald Ward (6-3, 3 KO’s) and UBF super bantamweight title holder Heather “The
Heat” Hardy (7-0, 2 KO’s) meeting Christina Fuentes (2-4-3) with both bouts scheduled for eight rounds.
Melson was originally set to fight former WBF title holder Mike Ruiz, but with Ruiz pulling out due a hand injury, Ward, of Memphis Tennessee, stepped in to in fill the spot. “This guy’s tougher than his record looks” Melson stated in an interview with Fightnews.com, “I’ve seen him fight. He’s very durable, he’s never been stopped. So I’m not in for any piece of cake by any means”. Looking ahead to higher profile fights in 2014, the U.S. Army Reserves Captain trained for six weeks for tomorrow nights’ contest, and although the opponents changed, his goals remain the same: a shot at a title, and increased awareness of spinal cord injuries, a mission that takes up his time outside the ring. He donates his full boxing purses to spinal cord research, and is fighting for a clinical trial in the U.S. that could lead to increased recovery for victims of spinal cord injuries.
Melson is unbeaten in his last six contests since suffering his lone defeat to Delen Parsley in 2012. He dropped his (then) undefeated opponent twice in the bout, but was dropped himself in the final frame and lost an eight round decision. Ward is coming off a second round stoppage loss to undefeated Tony Harrison last November. He’s fought once previously on a Broadway Boxing card, losing to Patrick Day in August.
In the nights’ co-headliner, Brooklyn native Heather “The Heat” Hardy looks to notch her eighth win and third consecutive knockout against Texan Christina Fuentes. The undefeated UBF champion has gained a huge following in her 18 months as a pro and is said by many that when she fights, she puts on the most exciting performance of the night. Training under the tutelage of Devon Cormack at Gleason’s Gym, she’s fought more than half of her pro contests at the Roseland Ballroom; her first two bouts took place there, as well as her first knockout win over Cassie Trost last July. It’s only fitting that she’s featured on the venues final boxing card.
Like Melson, Hardy is also involved heavily in charity work and fundraising. She’s involved with the Give A Kid A Dream program run out of Gleason’s Gym, providing mentorship to disadvantaged youths through boxing and also We Care N.Y., an overseer to relief aid in the tri-state area. Having been a victim of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, she understands the importance of helping her community through tough times. She’s also the subject of a documentary film “Hardy”, produced by Natasha Verma that documents the struggles a female boxer has finding success in the sport. The Boxing Tribune interviewed Hardy in August, that interview can be viewed HERE.
Also on the card, Long Islander Joe Smith Jr. (13-1, 11 KO’s) faces former “Next Great Champ” contestant Otis “Triple OG” Griffin (24-14-2, 10 KO’s) in a scheduled six round bout. Also scheduled for six rounds, undefeated light heavyweight Travis Peterkin (10-0, 5 KO’s) of Brooklyn faces Michael Gbenga (18-10, 18 KO’s).
Four rounds attractions include: lightweights Ryan Martin (2-0, 2 KO’s) vs. Jose Del Valle (2-3-2), super featherweights Bryant Cruz (8-0, 5 KO’s) vs. Joshua Reyes (5-1, 2 KO’s), lightweights Donte Strayhorn (4-1, 1 KO) vs. Jose Gomez (3-5), middleweights Chris Galeano (1-0) vs. Travis McClaren (1-3, 1 KO), and light welterweights Daniel Gonzalez (5-0, 3 KO’s)vs. Ray Velez (3-4, 1 KO).
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