The Met adds an elegant touch to ‘The Sweet Science’
PHILADELPHIA – Jeremy Cuevas leaned back in the plush, maroon velvet-cushioned chair and thought for a moment. The undefeated Philadelphia lightweight looked around, absorbed the spacious environs and looked up at the glistening chandelier dangling from above and the Proscenium arch under which he’ll be fighting on Saturday night, in the Met Philadelphia, a refurbished opera house that’s been in existence since 1908.
“It’s a shame I’m going to mess this beautiful place up with blood,” Cuevas said with a smile.
Cuevas (11-0, 8 knockouts) will be headlining the grand opening, at least for boxing, to the newest and easily most regal boxing venue in the United States, when he takes on fellow undefeated Philadelphian Steven Ortiz (9-0, 3 KOs) in Hard Hitting Promotions’ debut show, in conjunction with Live Nation, at the Met Philadelphia.
The venue, which will fit 3,000 patrons 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.
The Met Philadelphia brings elements of class to a brutal sport. It’s certainly a step up from the Legendary Blue Horizon and the old Cambria A.C., known back to the old timers as “The Bucket of Blood,” the “Blood Pit,” and the “College of Hard Knocks.”
“I was never at the Blue Horizon but I heard a lot about it and I what I do know of it, it certainly doesn’t compare to this place,” said Cuevas, still looking around the architecture of the Met. “I think I’m the perfect fighter for a place like this. I feel blessed to be here with this opportunity.
“These velvet chairs look very nice. 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. Boxing is the most brutal sport in the most beautiful venues. That’s the way I see it. This is the last place you’d expect to see a brawl.
“These seats are going to get messed up. I can’t wait for that to happen. I always dreamed about fighting in a place that looked like this. Now I’m here and it’s time to perform.”
When Oscar Hammerstein first constructed the Metropolitan Opera House, holding live boxing matches there certainly wasn’t on his mind. Since the Blue Horizon closed for boxing in June 2010, Philly fight fans have been looking for a place to go that could be as near to the “Blue” as possible.
They’ll get something quite a bit more at The Met.
Also featured on the card are Philadelphia stalwarts Samuel Teah (15-2-1, 7 KOs) and Branden Pizarro (13-1, 6 KOs), along with Tre’Sean Wiggins (10-4-1, 6 KOs), Malik Hawkins (13-0, 9 KOs), Travis Castellon (16-3-1, 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).
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