Courtesy Jim Jenkins, Sacramento Bee
Professional boxing is returning to Sacramento’s storied Memorial Auditorium, venue for many of the California capital city’s former top fighters and site of perhaps its most famous bout. Hall-of-Fame promoter Don Chargin has billed an Oct. 6 card at the historic 16th and J Streets arena, where he was involved in directing many of the fabled cards. The Saturday night show will be telecast by the Fox Sports Network and feature Japanese welterweight prospect Yoshihiro Kamegai (21-0, 18 knockouts) against an opponent to be named in the main event.
The fighters appearing in the inaugural card, however, are less significant than a long-range plan for central Sacramento by Chargin and his partner, Woodland promoter Paco Damian who, along with Golden Boy Promotions, have been promoting frequently in the nearby small cities of Woodland and Fairfield.
“We want to build Memorial Auditorium back up again for boxing,” Chargin said. “And, to help celebrate opening night, we are inviting back some of the top fighters who developed their careers there — Pete Ranzany, Tony Lopez, Loreto Garza.
Except for a heavyweights-themed-card in 2009 by an out-of-town promoter, boxing in downtown Sacramento has been a rarity since the emergence of larger Arco Arena, home to the NBA Kings and where many nationally-televised major fights have taken place, among them Lopez and Garza world title bouts. In the interim, other promoters have put on smaller shows at area hotels with limited seating.
However, Memorial Auditorium, with a cozy, double-tiered seating capacity of 4,000, was the scene of arguably Sacramento’s best fight, Bobby Chacon’s off-the-deck comeback win over Bazooka Limon for the World Boxing Council junior-lightweight title in 1982. Telecast by ABC and promoted by Don King, it was The Ring magazine’s Fight of the Year and received big ratings for its pure, fans hanging-over-the-balcony, exciting boxing atmosphere.