This past Father’s Day was considerably different for three-time, two-division world champion “El Gallo” Jose Antonio Rivera and his pro-debuting son, A.J. Rivera, because they will be “Making History,” presented by Rivera Promotions Entertainment and Granite Chin Promotions, August 17 at The Palladium.
Rivera and his son, respectively, are the promoter and matchmaker for Rivera Promotions Entertainment (RPE), which will co-promote “Making History” with Granite Chin Promotions (GCP).
“We are excited to be teaming up with GCP for this historic boxing event,” Jose commented. “We have had the pleasure of working with Chris (Traietti) and Chuck (Shearns) in the past. We are grateful that they are able to work with us again to make sure we put together a great boxing event.”
The Riveras will become the first world-champion father-son combination to fight on a pro show that is promoted by their company. More significantly, A.J. will become the first pro boxer to be born with Spina Bifida.
Now 45 years old, Rivera is making his second comeback, but this time it’s solely to fight on the same card as his son. Due to a variety of reasons, “El Gallo” retired from the ring in 2008, but he came back in 2011 for two fights, both victories, before hanging up his gloves again.
In 1997, Rivera captured the International Boxing Organization (IBO) World welterweight title, stopping Gilberto Flores in the second round. Six years later, he traveled to Germany to take on undefeated, hometown favorite Michel Trabant (38-0) for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) World Welterweight Championship, in which Rivera won a 12-round decision and the belt.
Two fights later, in front of nearly 10,000 hometown fans in Worcester, Rivera won a 12-round unanimous decision over defending champion Alejandro Garcia (25-1) for the WBA World super welterweight title.
“I am boxing at 45 years old because of this great opportunity that has arisen for my son and I,” Jose explained. “Boxing on the same card with my son is going to be exciting and, even more so, because we will be a part of history! I am fortunate to be healthy, physically, and I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for not having any brain issues from my prior years of boxing. I’ve lost 20 pounds, so far, and need to lose 12 more to make the 160-pound weight class.
“I am not sure how the night of the fight is going to go. I play it in my head over and over about how I would like it to go, but in the end, I’m confident we will both be ready for tough fights because of the hard work we’re both putting in at the gym.
“Fan response has been good, positive and supportive of what we both are doing and attempting to accomplish. To look back at the day I was told my son was going to be born with Spina Bifida, preparing myself mentally for the worse, and now 25 years later here we are close to fulfilling his childhood dream. It’s amazing! I feel blessed to share this moment with my son. I am also happy that we can do this in front of our family, friends & fans in our City of Worcester, where my son was born, and I was raised since I moved there when I was 16.”
On Aug. 17, Rivera will face battle-tested middleweight Ryan “Dangerous” Davis (24-19, 9 KOs), fighting out of East Saint Louis, Illinois, in the eight-round main event. Davis has been in with the iron, including six-time, two division world champion Zab Judah, former International Boxing Federation (IBF) world champion Ishe Smith, two-time world title challenger and 2004 US Olympian Vances Martirosyan, world title challenger Jonathan Reid, reigning International Boxing Association (IBA) world junior middleweight champion Mark DeLuca, plus other notables such as Rob Brant, Mikael Zewski, Carlos Bojorquez and Dominik Britsch.
Twenty-five-year-old A.J. will fight an opponent to be determined in a four-round welterweight match. He is a graduate of Johnson & Wales with a major in sports management, who has quickly become one of the most respected matchmakers in New England.
A.J. grew-up in a gym, watching his father train, and he also fought as an amateur boxer. “I’ve always wanted to fight as a pro and what better way than to make my pro debut on the same card headlined by my pops,” Rivera said. “This is a one and done, I’m not going to box as a career and, hopefully I will leave the ring on August 17th and retire undefeated. I plan to make matchmaking a career. I can stay in the sport I’ve always loved and matchmake for our company and for other promoters.
“I was born with Spina Bifida. A layer of skin covered a hole in my back, preventing water from getting in, which would have damaged my system and left me paralyzed, unable to speak and with a shunt in my head to drain fluid. The doctors told my parents that, if I survived, I’d only live to be 19, in a wheelchair and a little autistic. I had surgery the next day and my pops kept hope. As I got older, I played basketball, football, baseball and boxed. I was inactive for seven years when I went away to school and started matchmaking.”
In addition to sacrificing to make weight, instead of having a Father’s Day cookout, he watched what he ate and, of course, workout with his father in the gym to prepare for his pro debut.
“I wasn’t able to celebrate my 25th anniversary on June 2 either,” A.J. added. “I plan to celebrate my birthday and Father’s Day when I step out of the ring on August 17th. Then, I’ll go back to focusing on my craft and become a full-time matchmaker.”
Red-hot Richard “Popeye The Sailor Man” Rivera (8-0, 7 KOs), fighting out of Hartford, CT, will be showcased in the eight-round co-featured event. Rivera is the reigning UBF All Americans light heavyweight and ABF International cruiserweight champion.
Schedule to fight on the undercard in separate bouts are Worcester junior middleweight Khiary Gray (15-4, 11 KOs), promoted by CES Boxing, Danbury, CT junior welterweight Omar “The Beast” Bordoy, Jr. (6-0, 2 KOs), Springfield, MA welterweight Jose Angel “KO” Ortiz (4-13-1, 1 KO) and pro-debuting featherweight Joshua Orta, Southbridge, MA welterweight Wilfredo “El Sucaro” Pagan (4-0, 2 KOs), Worcester lightweight Francisco Irizarry (4-0, 2 KOs) and pro-debuting lightweight Eslih Owusu.
Opponents will soon be announced. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Tickets, priced at $75.00 (ringside) and $45.00 (general admission), are on sale and available to purchase at www.ThePalladium.net or the Palladium box office (general admission only), or by contacting Jose Rivera (firstname.lastname@example.org/508.864.6954), AJ Rivera (email@example.com/774.272.2269) or any of the fighters.
Doors open at 6 p.m. ET, first bout 7 p.m. ET.
Event sponsors include Lundgren Hondo, Atty. Maria M. Rivera-Cotto, USANA, Chieftain Liquors and ChrisFIT Xperience.
A portion of the proceeds will go to Spina Bifida Association of Greater New England.