Star Boxing announced the signing of undefeated light heavyweight/cruiserweight Richie "Popeye The Sailor Man" Rivera to a promotional contract. Rivera is partners in Hartford Boxing Promotions, which will co-promote Rivera along with Star Boxing. The 28-year-old Rivera (11-0, 10 KOs), born and raised in Hartford, CT, is scheduled to fight on Friday, June 28, on Fite.TV pay-per-view ($9.99), live from Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, New York. Rivera will face Brian "MVP" Howard (14-2, 11 KOs) in an eight-round cruiserweight contest. "I'm excited and ready to go," Rivera said between training sessions at the Hartford Boxing Center. "I was very nervous about the whole thing (process). I don't just sign a paper put in front of me. I read everything closely and ask questions. I really thought Joe worked with us and met our demands. I'm very happy to move on to the next level. I've worked with Joe Smith Jr. for the past two years. It started with the (Andrzej) Fonfara fight, then (Bernard) Hopkins, and I'm helping him now (as a sparring partner). He's mentioned a few things, gave me some good advice to be cautious with all my decisions, and to listen before speaking."
Hartford Boxing's other partners are Rivera's Tony Blanco and Michael Tran. Blanco drew a different analogy in terms of co-promoting Rivera with Star Boxing, saying: "The plane was on the runway, Richie is the engine, and now we have the pilot (DeGuardia) to take us where we want to go."
One of the key reasons for partnering with Star Boxing, according to Blanco, is DeGuardia's success working with former world light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver and Smith Jr.. "I like what Joe [DeGuardia] has done in the light heavyweight division, starting with Tarver, and more recently Smith Jr.," Blanco commented. "It's good for Richie because that's his division. This was kind of a no-brainer. Joe is reachable (in NYC), which is something I like. Some promoters sign fighters for no real reason and then they end up on the shelf, which is a fighter's worst nightmare. I think Joe is one of the top ten promoters in the world, but it seems like the top three are always bickering with each other. I like the fact Joe works with all other promoters. He's low key and I think a perfect fit for us. Another reason for us is Joe's new deal with NESN (home of the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins), which is a New England regional network but available to watch nationally. It's huge for Richie to be on television. You just put the cameras on Richie, give him a microphone, and he does the rest. And Richie can really fight, too. I think he has the most star power in New England."
"The plan for Richie in 2019 is for him to continue developing, fighting a lot, and getting exposure. He's self-motivated, always working hard in the gym, and hungry. We're on the right path."
Star Boxing has another undefeated Hartford boxer under contract, junior welterweight "Action" Anthony Laureano (10-0, 3 KOs), who is also scheduled to fight on the June 28th card.
"We're excited to sign Richie and work with Hartford Boxing Promotions to guide him to the top,' CEO of Star Boxing Joe DeGuardia added. "Richie has so much potential. He's extremely strong, dedicated, hard-working, and charismatic. We learned a lot about Richie during his training and sparring sessions with Joe Smith Jr.. Star Boxing has committed itself to further developing New England boxers and Richie has everything we look for, and more, to build him into a star."