This year, Bristol Borough’s Michelle Rosado is all about positivity. Even as a promoter in the often cutthroat industry of boxing, she isn’t letting the negativity of other people bring her down.
Thanks to this unwavering mindset, Rosado confidently matched her first big fight – Stevie Ortiz versus Damon Allen. This is the headlining match of her second annual Philly Special (through her business Raging Babe), set for Friday, March 27, at the 2300 Arena, in South Philadelphia.
“I feel like I’m one to watch this year, and I say that very humbly. I’m not being cocky about it, but I have some cool plans. I’m starting 2020 off with a bang by making this huge main event between Stevie Ortiz and Damon Allen. It’s for the PA State Lightweight Title,” Rosado said. “There are people in Philly that have wanted to see these guys fight for years, and it’s finally happening.”
Ortiz, 26, won the vacant state 135-pound title last year when he scored a pair of knockdowns en route to a unanimous eight-round decision over another Philadelphian, Jeremy Cuevas, at the Met. He last boxed on Sept. 20 at Parx Casino in Bensalem, when he got off the canvas twice to earn an eight-round majority decision over Alejandro Salinas. A pro since 2015, Ortiz is 11-0, 3 KOs, and has boxed only two men with losing records.
“It’s a big fight because we are both very talented,” Ortiz said. “As amateurs, Damon was always the top guy in his division. I was the top in my division. We went to the National Golden Gloves together and we fought great fights. This match-up is going to bring the best out of us.”
Allen, 27, last boxed on Oct. 25 at the 2300 Arena when he scored a unanimous six-round decision over Dieumerci Nzau. A pro since 2013, Allen is 16-1-1, 5 KOs. He owns a pair of victories over Mexican veterans Gamaliel Diaz and Martin Honorio.
“I never wanted to be the best in the city. I want to be the best, period,” Allen said. “I have more experience in and out of the ring. He [Ortiz] is just another fighter in front of me. I live a boxing lifestyle. I told him to ‘come ready and prepared’ because I’m coming 110 percent.”
When Rosado proposed the match to Hall of Fame promoter Russell Peltz, whom she recruited to handle Philly Special matchmaking duties, she explained he was negative about the fight and told her not to waste her time since it probably would never happen. Instead of agreeing, Rosado told Peltz to “stay out of it,” and reached out to the management and trainers of both men. Needless to say, an agreement was reached.
“I wanted them all to be happy. It wasn’t just about me, the promoter. I wanted Team Ortiz to be happy. I wanted Team Allen to be happy. What did they want financially? What were they looking for? What would be meaningful and significant enough for them?” she said.
Ortiz and Allen will be fighting for the PA State Lightweight Title, which Rosado stressed is a huge deal.
“That’s bragging rights,” she said. “That’s saying you’re the best of Philly. It’s not like you’re saying you’re the best of Biloxi, Mississippi. Who cares? When you say you’re the best from Philly, oh, that means something.”
For Rosado, Philly Special is a way to remind people of the “good old days” in Philadelphia boxing when it was considered a legendary fight town.
“Years ago, fighters just fought. They laced up the gloves and they fought in really good, competitive fights. Now, I would say, this era isn’t so much that way. It’s more about the marketing, the ticket sales and where he’s from, protecting the record and wanting to be undefeated like a Floyd Mayweather,” she said. “But boxing at its best is when the fighters are fighting the best out there.”
And that’s exactly what Ortiz and Allen intend to do.
“They know that it’s the right time. They know that the winner is not only going to be the PA State Champion, but he’s probably going to break into the world rankings. They did not come up with excuses, they didn’t bat an eye. They knew that this fight would take them to the next step in their careers,” Rosado said. “Philly fighters, they have that grit about them. They like to fight hard and they’re not going to quit.”
While Ortiz versus Allen is the main event, Rosado said Philly Special attendees will also enjoy six undercard fights.
“It’s about featuring these up-and-coming young fighters from the area in competitive matches,” she said.
One such fighter is William Tennent running back Tommy Santiago.
“He got offers from colleges to play football, but he’s a really good standout boxer, too,” Rosado said. “He wants to turn pro before he goes off to college.”
Rosado has invited a number of influential individuals from the boxing world to attend, with hopes the featured fighters will be discovered.
“If they shine, good for them. They might get picked up, they might get signed, they might get a promotional agreement,” she said. “That’s what Philly Special’s all about.”
If you go: Philly Special takes place Friday, March 27, at 2300 Arena, 2300 S. Swanson St., Philadelphia. The first fight begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets priced at $50, $75 and $125 are on sale, and can be purchased at 2300arena.com or by calling 267-273-0945.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org