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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When Oscar Hammerstein first dreamed up constructing the Metropolitan Opera House on Broad Street over a century ago, it’s safe to say holding live boxing matches there certainly wasn’t on his mind. But one by one, the great Philly fight venues faded away.
The Legendary Blue Horizon closed for boxing in June 2010.
The old Cambria A.C., known by the old timers as “The Bucket of Blood,” is long gone — but, something new will begin in Philadelphia on Saturday night.
The Met Philadelphia will host its first boxing match.
Its glistening chandelier, Proscenium arch and velvet burgundy chairs may make the Met Philadelphia look a tad out of sorts for punches and flying splatters of blood.
Although, if you’re a fight fan wanting a great venue to enjoy some head shots – you might not find a more regal place to watch a boxing match in the country.
Jeremy Cuevas (11-0, 8 KOs) will be headlining the boxing grand opening at the Met Philadelphia when he takes on fellow undefeated Philadelphian Steven Ortiz – 9-0, 3 KOs – in Hard Hitting Promotions debut show, in junction with Live Nation.
“It’s a shame I’m going to mess this beautiful place up with blood,” Cuevas said with a laugh.
The venue, which will fit 3,000 for boxing, took 18 months for the massive $56 million restoration to be completed and be ready for the first fight there in over 60 years.
This was a vision put together by Live Nation Philadelphia Regional President Geoff Gordon and Hard Hitting’s Manny Rivera.
“Boxing has always been part of the fabric of Philadelphia and boxers have contributed greatly to what Philadelphia is. So it was obvious to us that we needed to include boxing within the first few months of us opening,” Gordon said. “The Met re-opened on Dec. 3, with Bob Dylan.”
The ring will be set up on the stage.
“We raised the floor to present boxing to the fans. I’ve seen boxing and wrestling in other venues where they’ve been on stage, but this will be held on the floor at the lip of the stage. We’ll have the ring surrounded on three sides by seating and setting up seating on the stage. It’s set up where everyone is looking down and you’ll be able to see the foot work and everything the fighters will do,” Gordon said. “We wanted to make this setting as authentic as possible to the boxing fan.”
Also featured on the card are Philadelphia stalwarts Samuel Teah (15-2, 7 KOs) and Branden Pizarro (13-1, 6 KOs), along with Tresean Wiggins (13-6, 6 KOs), Malik Hawkins (13-0, 9KOs), Travis Castellon (16-3, 12 KOs), Gadwin Rosa (9-0, 7 KOs), Christian Tapia (7-0, 6 KOs) and Tamar Israeli, of Tel Aviv, Israel (2-0, 2 KOs).
“These velvet chairs look very nice,” Cuevas said. “It is a place where you can watch a play or a prayer service. These beautiful chairs better have blood all over them Saturday night.”