Miami's out, Kissimmee's in for Feb. 3 card
Promoter Don King is the first person in the world to tell you that he would rather be lucky than good, and it was a little bit of luck that helped him finally find a home for his Feb. 3 "Super Saturday" card.
King's search for a venue ended about 235 miles north from where it started. The card was originally slated for Miami Arena to coincide with the Super Bowl in the city the next day. But after the deal collapsed, the show is moving to the 9,000-seat Silver Spurs Arena at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla., outside of Orlando.
"The fight will stay in Florida, which is good news," King said. "Kissimmee answered my A.P.B. and now we'll make history with the biggest fight ever staged there. It will be boxing at its finest with three world championships on the night before the big football game."
The top two fights will be televised on Showtime (9 p.m. ET/PT). In the main event, light heavyweight titlist Tomasz Adamek (31-0, 21 KOs) of Poland will make his third defense against Chad Dawson (23-0, 15 KOs) of New Haven, Conn.
Lightweight titlist Jesus Chavez (43-3, 30 KOs) of Austin, Texas, who hasn't fought since September 2005 because of a serious arm injury, returns to face interim titlist Julio Diaz (33-3, 24 KOs) of Coachella, Calif., in a mandatory fight.
In a third title fight, which won't be part of Showtime's telecast, junior middleweight titleholder Cory Spinks (35-3, 11 KOs), who won his belt via majority decision against Roman Karmazin in July, will make his first defense against mandatory challenger Rodney Jones (37-3-1, 22 KOs).
King's deal with Miami Arena fell through last week when a private investor agreed to put up $1 million to help bankroll the event that was designed to be part of the city's Super Bowl festivities. However, the check for the initial payment of $500,000 bounced, leaving King looking for a new site.
His staff scoured the country for a suitable venue. There was talk of taking the card to Hammond, Ind., or Connecticut before the Silver Stars Arena, which opened in 2003, came into the picture.
King, whose company is based in Deerfield Beach, in South Florida, didn't know the arena existed until told about it by Tom Malloy, the executive director of the Florida Boxing Commission.
"It was a complete coincidence," Malloy said. "Robb Larson, the general manager at the Silver Spurs Arena, contacted me a few weeks ago and told me he would be interested in doing a boxing event. He jumped at the chance to host a Don King-promoted card when I called him last week."
The arena is part of Osceola Heritage Park, the spring training home of the Houston Astros and host to concerts and sporting events.
"It is a logical progression for us, as a part of the [growing] greater Orlando market to present a world class boxing event," Larson said. "We're flattered that Don King chose our venue to make history with the biggest fight card ever staged in this community."
To help him promote the card, King has turned to his pal Tuto Zabala Jr., a Florida promoter who has been putting on smaller shows in Kissimmee since 2001 as part of his monthly boxing series on Spanish-language network Telemundo.
"I'm excited to be working with Don King again," Zabala said. "Just like a boxer, he got knocked down in Miami, then gets up and scores a knockout for Kissimmee."
One benefit of moving the card from Miami to Kissimmee is costs. With the Super Bowl in Miami, King was looking at enormous expenses, including an estimated $230,000 hotel tab. That will be considerably less in Kissimmee.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.