By Phil Doherty
Photos: Armando Alvarez
Sports fans can be fickle. Take the wild popularity of mixed martial arts as an example–a sport that didn’t exist in America twenty five years ago. It’s difficult to forecast which sports will garner fan support and funding in years to come. Quite another and much easier to recall the sports that once held sway as must-see events of their day. Sports like jai-alai. Or boxing. In their heyday during the sixties and seventies, these two sports converged in one location, the fabled Miami Jai Alai Fronton (now known as the Casino Miami Jai Alai.) Today local sports fans witnessed a “homecoming” of sorts at the venue as former Don King Promotions trainer Al Bonanni hosted the final press conference for this Saturday’s five-fight boxing card.
Local cruiserweight prospect Azea “Haitian Hitman” Augustama (13-1, 8 KOs) wagered his own bets on the outcome of his scheduled ten-round bout against veteran David McNemar (13-2, 10 KOs). Augustama proclaimed: “I feel great. I haven’t had to cut weight, so that’s good. I’ve just been focusing on taking in as much oxygen as I can by running, and getting strong for this fight. I’m ready to go.
“It’s great fighting in front of my home audience, and knowing I’ll be receiving the support of my hometown fans. I want to showcase my talent, and give them as good a show as possible. This fight will end with body punches.
“Mark my words. Body punches.”
Haitian super middleweight and Boynton Beach resident Stan “Classy” Staniclasse (3-0, 3 KOs) looked forward to fighting for the first time in the US following three successive bouts in the Dominican Republic.
Staniclasse said: “I’m hoping for a fabulous start to my career in the United States. This is my first fight in the States. Being a pro feels more at home for me. I’ve always had more of a pro style, and not so much that amateur style of landing shots just for the sake of getting points. I like to knock people out, and that’s what I’m focused on as a pro.”
Twenty-five year old local lightweight “The Jewish Dragon” Hunter Levy Sundberg (2-0, 1 KO) mused on the differences between his chosen vocation of boxing and the legal profession he plans to follow one day. He stated: “I’m really excited to be fighting in front of people I grew up around, and I’ll have a chance to represent Miami in Miami.
“I Iove boxing. I grew up boxing, so instead of going to law school, I said ‘Let’s try boxing and see where this goes’ Law school will always be there, but boxing won’t.”
Power-punching Kazakhstani Kanat “The Kazak” Islam (8-0, 8 KOs) prefers to let his fists do the talking while he masters English, saying: “I’m very happy to be fighting in the U.S. and showing fans my talent.”
Tickets for “The Homecoming” are still available online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Casino Miami Jai-Alai at 305-633-6400. Doors open at 7:30. First bell at 8:00 PM