When Derek Stevens was a kid growing up in Detroit, the Motor City was overflowing with some of the best talent the boxing world.
Guys like Milton McCrory, Duane Thomas, Jimmy Paul, Steve McCrory and, of course, Thomas Hearns were world champions from the legendary Kronk Gym, led by Emanuel Steward. It was during these formative years that Stevens knew he wanted to somehow be involved in the sport.
When he grew into a successful businessman as an adult, he would frequently fly to Las Vegas and Reno/Lake Tahoe to watch all the biggest fights. He saw Mike Tyson in his prime, Julio Cesar Chavez at his best, a young Oscar de la Hoya ripping foes to shreds and, of course, the infamous “Fan Man” fight that was the rematch between Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield.
The one thing that struck a note in his heart more than anything, though, was the classic outdoor arena behind Caesars Palace, the site that put Vegas on the map as the spot in town for the biggest of mega fights. But as the years rolled on and with sites like the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mandalay Bay Events Center and now the magnificent new T-Mobile Arena, outdoor fights in Sin City have gone the way of the dinosaur… until now.
“It’s not the easiest thing,” Stevens, who owns the D Hotel Casino as well as several other properties in the city, said in a recent interview with Sherdog.com about hosting outdoor events. “It’s also something that truly depends on the weather. You could have a rain out or a wind out. If you have the biggest fight ever, like Mayweather-Pacquiao, you can’t afford to take the risk of cancellation. That’s why the big promoters put the biggest fights on inside.”
Stevens wanted to change that when he became one of the most powerful figures in the Valley. He doesn’t see a reason as to why his new product can’t reinvent the wheel, so to speak, and when looking at the wild success that the StubHub Center has on the outskirts of Los Angeles, there’s no reason to believe “Knockout Nights at the D” can’t do just as well, just on a slightly smaller scale.
“When we created the [outdoor] Downtown Las Vegas Events Center (DLVEC), I knew we were going to do concerts and other events, but I always knew I would get boxing down there and put on outdoor fights,” he said. “Some people understand how different baseball and football is different on real grass versus artificial grass. There’s also that environmental factor that goes with it and being outdoors makes it seem more natural. There’s an elevation of electricity amongst the crowd outdoors more than inside that makes it cooler.”
Stevens recently launched his “Knockout Night at the D” event at the DLVEC and it’s gotten a terrific response thus far. Some of the cards have already appeared on Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation program as well as on AXS TV with RFA 31. But rather than just putting on the occasional event at the venue, Stevens’ “Knockout Night at the D” is designed to be a monthly series that will not only re-establish the fight capital of the world as a locale for outdoor fights, it’s also to expand the sport of boxing back into the limelight, where it only finds itself once or twice a year.
Stevens and his team secured a deal to televise all of the “Knockout Night at the D” events live on CBS Sports Network. The next installment will go down on Saturday May 21 and headlining the marquee will be a 10-round middleweight affair between Arif Magomedov and Andrew Hernandez.
The main card will be televised live on CBS Sports Network beginning at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.
Magomedov (17-0, 10 KOs) is rated in the top 15 of the four major sanctioning bodies and is coming off a seventh round TKO over Jonathan Tavira, which was preceded by an impressive 10-round unanimous decision over previously-unbeaten Derrick Webster last summer.
Hernandez (11-4-1, 3 KOs) has lost three of his last five, but in his most recent outing, he took out Dionisio Miranda in the seventh. He also scored a somewhat shocking 10th round stoppage of Jeff Page Jr. last November.
Also slated for the event will be an eight-round super middleweight battle between John Vera (12-0, 8 KOs) and Joey Ruelas (10-1-1, 4 KOs) in the co-feature. Devin Haney (5-0, 3 KOs), a seven-time amateur national champion, will open the televised portion of the card against Jairo Fernandez (4-0, 3 KOs).
To add fuel to his burning desire to continue to push the Sweet Science, Stevens also launched a monthly amateur boxing program that will precede each of the pro cards on Fridays. Dubbed “Battle Born Boxing,” the event is aiming to bring amateur boxing back to the limelight like it was a few decades ago. The amateur card will stream live on FITE beginning at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.
Read more at http://www.sherdog.com/blog/Business-Mogul-Derek-Stevens-Hopes-to-Revive-Outdoor-Boxing-Events-in-Las-Vegas.