The Forum is back in the boxing business, and that means a homecoming of sorts for Bob Arum and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Marquez, a four-division world champion, had his first fight at the arena in 1995, when he fought under the Forum Boxing promotional company. He recorded a 12-0 record with 9 KOs fighting at the Great Western Forum.
Nearly 20 years later, Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) will return to the newly refurbished Forum to face Mike Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs) on May 17 in a scheduled 12-round fight, to be televised by HBO. Tickets go on sale Tuesday.
“I feel honored and proud to be back here,” Marquez, 40, said Wednesday at a news conference at the Forum Club. “I had very important fights in my career in this place.”
Arum’s first promotion at The Forum was the 1973 heavyweight fight between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton.
“The history here is all around us,” Arum said. “For us to come back and present this fight is truly something special. I think this is the start of something big in this area.”
The first fight at The Forum was in 1968. Other legendary names who have fought there include Oscar De La Hoya, Thomas Hearns, Julio Cesar Chavez and Shane Mosley.
“I remember the first one, the Ali-Norton fight,” Arum said. “Ali was coming off of a defeat by Norton when Norton broke his jaw in San Diego. The question was, would the jaw heal in time. We gave him an interim fight and the jaw was fine. So, we came here (The Forum) and I co-promoted the fight with (arena owner) Jack Kent Cooke.
“Ali would win a close decision here. It was a really important fight for him to win because it led to a rematch with Joe Frazier and finally a fight with George Foreman in Zaire where he regained the title. So without that fight against Norton and that victory here, Ali’s career might have gone downhill.”
Another memorable Forum fight for Arum was the Michael Carbajal light-flyweight title fight against Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez in 1994.
“There have always been great, great fights … little fights, big fights here in The Forum,” Arum said. “For 20 years, they kept the flame for boxing alive in Los Angeles.”
Arum hopes to stage at least four shows a year at The Forum. The next one might be in July between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Gennady Golovkin.
Alvarado sees this as his golden opportunity to get his career back on track after suffering a loss to Ruslan Provodnikov in October in his hometown of Broomfield, Colo.
“This is a perfect way to redeem myself,” Alvarado said of fighting Marquez. “I think I can be the one to retire a legend.”
MCT INFORMATION SERVICES