Sovereign Center Fights - May 12th

Story & Photos by Jeff Julian


Sovereign Center Fights - May 12th

Friday Night Fight Card in Reading, PA

Reading, Pennsylvania and the “sweet science” share a long and colorful history.  If Philadelphia is known around the world as the classic boxing town with tough fighters, nearby Reading could be considered a close cousin.  An old industrial town, typical of so many in the Northeast, many of its inhabitants over the last century were composed of working-class immigrants and their descendents, typical fodder for young men who hoped that boxing would get them ahead in life.  Starting with Germans, Italians, Greeks, Polish and Irish and continuing with African Americans and Hispanics, the city has produced many quality fighters.

Reading will be showcasing some of its young prospects on Friday May 12th in the Reading Eagle Theater at the Sovereign Center when King’s Promotions presents “Friday Night Fights”.  Co-promoters Marshall Kauffman and Jeff Nigrelli had three straight highly successful fight cards at the Riveredge Hotel and Restaurant in Reading and have decided to step it up to a bigger venue.  This will be the first fight card at the Sovereign Center since August of 2002.  Everyone involved is hoping for a big turnout, since Bob Arum and Top Rank are expressing an interest in possibly bringing some its Telefutura televised fights to the Sovereign Center.

Some of boxing’s most historical figures have a connection to this city.  In 1907, a year before winning the world heavyweight title, Jack Johnson fought Kid Cutler (a protégé of John L. Sullivan) in Reading, scoring a first round KO.  Six months before winning the world heavyweight title against Jess Willard in 1919, Jack Demsey made a “barnstorming” appearance in Reading, knocking out Kid Harris in one round.  Other Hall of Famer’s who fought in Reading include Tommy Loughran, Ezzard Charles and Joey Giardello.  Rubin “Hurricane” Carter fought his second pro fight in Reading against Joey Cooper.  This fight was recreated in the 1999 movie “The Hurricane” starring Denzel Washington. 

In a historic fight in 2002 at a sold-out Sovereign Center, undisputed middleweight champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins defeated Carl Daniels, breaking Carlos Monzon’s record for consecutive title defenses.  Muhammad Ali, whose Deer Lake training camp was just north of Reading, made frequent visits to the city during the ten years he trained there.  On one of those visits, he brought a young Larry Holmes to the PAL gym to spar, convincing Ali to hire him as a sparring partner.  Reading produced many popular fighters including the late super middleweight champion Steve Little, tough light heavyweight contender Julian Letterlough, popular super middleweight Bobby Heath and current hot welterweight contender Kermit “The Killer” Cintron.

The May 12th event at the Sovereign Center will give boxing fans a chance to see some of the area’s rising young prospects.  The main event will feature Reading welterweight Keenan Collins (9-1-1, 8 KOs) against Yugoslavian Kemal Kolenovic (9-5-2).  Collins, who is undefeated in his previous six bouts, defeated Calvin Shakir on Feb. 17th at the Riveredge by way of a second round knockout.  In 2004 Kolenovic, who now calls Brooklyn, NY home, lost a tough decision to top welterweight Carlos Quintana on ESPN. 

In the co-feature, undefeated Harry “Lightning” Yorgey (13-0, 7 KOs) of Phoenixville, PA will face veteran George Klinesmith (22-11-3) of Ohio in a junior middleweight bout.  Yorgey, who always brings a large crowd, is coming off two recent first round knockout victories against Sean Holley and Terry Johnson.  Klinesmith has faced two world champions – Yory Boy Campas and Montell Griffin.

The undercard features highly touted Reading heavyweight Travis Kauffman (4-0, 3 KOs), who recently scored a first round KO over Robert Bell on the Rahman-Toney undercard in Atlantic City and a four round decision over tough Mike Miller at the Lancaster Host Resort.  Before turning pro in 2006, Kauffman was the number one rated heavyweight amateur by USA Boxing.

The undercard will also see the return to the ring of local fan favorite Jeremy Stauffer (5-1, 5 KOs), a brawler who always comes to fight.  Also, making his pro debut is junior welterweight Jason Cintron, brother of top welterweight contender Kermit Cintron.  In addition, several other bouts are being finalized.

Tickets are priced at $25.00, $35.00, $50.00 & $65.00 and are available at the Sovereign Center Box Office (610-898-7200) or by calling John Yorgey at 610-327-3392.  The Sovereign Center is located on Penn Street in downtown Reading.  Doors open at 7:00 pm; fights start at 8:00 pm.

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