Lest We Forget: Leavander Johnson

LeavanderIt appears fashionable to criticise boxing. Commentators regularly, and gleefully, posting obituaries for the once great sport and though it is irrefutable true that the sport is perilously close to expulsion from the consciousness of mainstream or casual fans, at boxing’s core the heart of the fighter still beats strong.

The loss of Leavander Johnson 18 months ago was felt around the world, the sport mourned but it is refreshing to hear that boxing hasn’t forgotten him or the family who lost someone even greater and more important than the IBF Lightweight champion he was in the ring.

Aspiring professional Shamone Alverez speaks in a recent release on the affection he holds for the fallen champion and his promoters have agreed to donate a proportion of the purse on which Alvarez features to the Fund set up in Johnson’s name to help support the family he left behind. Sure, the cynics will note it helps promote the show, but to me the conscience is to be welcomed, not derided.

ALVAREZ COMES HOME FOR NABO TITLE BOUT AGAINST CRUZ

PROMOTERS OF UNBEATEN WELTERWEIGHT RISING STAR
TO DONATE MONEY FROM JUNE 2ND BRIGGS-IBRAGIMOV
UNDERCARD BOUT TO LEAVANDER JOHNSON TRUST FUND

HOLLYWOOD, FL, May 1– When unbeaten welterweight contender Shamone Alvarez was rising up the 147 pound ranks, one of his mentors and friends was IBF lightweight champion Leavander Johnson, a fighter who had been through the ups and downs of boxing and who was able to give a young fighter the advice he needed to navigate the murky waters of the fight game.

Tragically, Johnson died in September of 2005 after a fight with Jesus Chavez.  Alvarez has not forgotten his friend though, and when he steps into the ring in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on June 2nd for the biggest fight of his life – a bout against Jose Luis Cruz for the NABO welterweight championship – he will be thinking of Johnson, while his promoters will be donating a portion of the proceeds to the trust fund set up for the family of the fallen World Champion.

“Leavander Johnson was a good friend of mine and I think about him every day,” said Alvarez.  “He was a true warrior and a good family man, and that’s why I’ve dedicated this fight to him.”

Alvarez-Cruz, a 12 round NABO welterweight championship bout, is a featured bout on the card headlined by the WBO World Heavyweight title fight between champion Shannon Briggs and challenger Sultan Ibragimov.  For Alvarez, an Atlantic City resident, it will be an emotional night as he fights in the city’s biggest venue.

“I’ve fought in Atlantic City a lot but this is my first time fighting in Boardwalk Hall and I’m excited to be on this card with a World Heavyweight Title bout like Briggs-Ibragimov,” said Alvarez.  “I’m bringing all my friends and family to the show and they’re definitely going to be in my corner when I beat Cruz and win the NABO title.”

Alvarez (17-0, 11 KOs), a pro since 2002, is a talented fighter with the type of skills necessary to compete at the highest levels of the game.  A 2001 Golden Gloves champion, ‘The Truth’ has had to battle through bouts of inactivity during his career, but in 2006 he had his biggest year as a pro as he won four fights in a row in impressive fashion.  In his last bout, on March 10, 2007, Alvarez made a successful Madison Square Garden debut, stopping Travis Hartman in the first round.

Mazatlan, Mexico’s Jose Luis ‘Chelin’ Cruz (32-2-2, 26 KOs) is a rugged battler who is unaccustomed to taking a backwards step in the ring.  A veteran of over a decade in the ring, Cruz burst on the world scene with his hard fought decision losses to former world champions Shane Mosley and Sharmba Mitchell in 2005 and 2006.  Winner of his last bout via decision over well-regarded Archak TerMeliksetian last November, Cruz is hopeful that he can deal another prospect a defeat on June 2nd.

“Seminole Warriors Boxing and our partners at Golden Boy Promotions are proud to honor this great fallen champion on this very special night of World Championship Boxing,” said Leon Margules, Executive Director of Seminole Warriors Boxing.

This exciting and emotional night of fights, which features the highly anticipated battle between two great heavyweights for the world renowned crown, is brought to you Seminole Warriors Boxing, Golden Boy Promotions and Caesars Atlantic City, in association with Nafta Moskva, Golden Grain Promotions, Main Events, CSI Sports and Global Marketing Strategies can be seen Live on Pay-Per-View.

Tickets, priced at $300, $200, $150, $100 and $50, are on sale now, and can be purchased at the Boardwalk Hall box office, by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-736-1420 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.

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