September 20, 2006 12:11 AM by Christopher Nicholson
Jackie Kallen of The Contender is flanked by first season fan favorite Jimmy Lange (to her right), Lange’s opponent Tommy Wilt (to her left), and other fighters on the Oct. 7th fight card in Fairfax, Virginia. (By Christopher P. Nicholson)
During last season’s debut of The Contender, “First Lady of Boxing” Jackie Kallen was known as much for her sharply unabashed insight as for her exceedingly camera-friendly presence. Not surprisingly, every eye in Champps Sports Bar in Fairfax, Va., was affixed to her when she took the microphone to promote the October 7th fight night at the George Mason University Patriot Center featuring, in separate bouts, Contender I favorites Jimmy Lange and Anthony Bonsante.
“A fighter shows his true mettle when coming off of a loss,” said Kallen. “Mentally and emotionally, that first time back in the ring is the equivalent of a championship title bout.”
While she was referring to Lange, she could have just as easily been talking about Bonsante. Lange was stopped at the tail end of the third round in his Contender rematch with Joey Gilbert last February, while Bonsante recently suffered a thorough drubbing at the hands of Allan Green in July during a nationally televised bout on ESPN.
“After my most recent fight [against Gilbert], this is a ‘do or die’ fight for me,” said Lange. “As much as that fight continues to haunt me, I’m well-aware that I won’t move ahead by looking back, and I’m looking ahead to Oct. 7th.”
Lange isn’t the only fighter looking ahead to Oct. 7th, as it’s a full fight-card with a number of boxers facing the biggest bout of their career, perhaps none more than Tommy Wilt, Lange’s opponent from Altoona, Pa. When a prominent boxer faces his first major loss, his next few bouts are often “tune-ups” or “confidence builders” against unheralded journeymen with an acquired taste for the canvas. But nothing could be further from the truth here.
Before turning pro, Tommy Wilt had an unusually long amateur career and set a new record with six Pennsylvania state titles. This is particularly impressive, given the boxing powerhouse regions of Philadelphia and Pittsburg, and opponents that included Jermain Taylor, David Reid and Kermit Cintron. As pro, Wilt has achieved an impressive record of 20 wins and only five losses.
Bonsante, who was not at the press conference, may be a national figure, but he will have his hands full with Larry Brothers of Washington, DC, and his hometown crowd. Co-main events include middleweights Purcell “Hard Rock” Miller vs. former world title challenger Larry “The Laser” Marks, and super-lightweights Dorin Spivey vs. Roberto “El Viejo” Valenzuela. There will be five more undercard bouts, including three heavyweight matches, for a chock-full card of nine scheduled bouts in all.
And since you can’t have reality TV without a little bit of Hollywood, there will indeed be celebrities in the house. Perhaps the biggest will be in two of the corners. Lange’s chief second will be legendary trainer Angelo Dundee, who has come out of retirement to work the Lange Corner. Contender fans will also recognize Tommy Gallagher, who will be Lange’s cut man. Former world champion Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker will also be there to coach his protÃƒgÃƒ, Dorin Spivey.
Ticket prices range from $500 for VIP ringside down to $25 and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com and www.majorleagueboxing.com, and via phone charge at 703-573-SEAT, 202-397-SEAT and 410-547-SEAT. George Mason University staff and students, local high school and college students, and local firefighters, law enforcement officials and military personnel may all receive a discount by presenting a valid ID and purchasing their tickets in-person at the Patriot Center Box Office on the campus of George Mason University.
The October 7th boxing card is produced by Major League Boxing and promoted by BrotmanWinterFried Communications.
Written by Christopher P. Nicholson, a full-time independent writer based in Sterling, Virginia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org