Buoyed by the success of San Leandro fighter Nonito "Filipino Flash" Donaire, Hayward-born super middleweight champion Andre Ward, and the Fillmore's own junior welterweight title-holder, Karim "Hard Hitta" Mayfield, we've long predicted a Bay Area boxing Renaissance.
And once again those predictions are starting to bear fruit.
The new man to watch out for is Tony Hirsch
, an Oakland-based, 29-year-old junior middleweight, erstwhile football player, and sparring partner for Ward. Hirsch hopes to get his major star turn this Saturday
after an 8-round main event fight with John Jackson
in the Virgin Islands.
Hirsch has long been stymied by his lack of a real manager or promotional arm, though boxing writer Mark Ortega reports that he's now being courted by Mayfield's manager, a
sports agent named Marlon Sullivan. In a tweet posted yesterday, Sullivan confirmed that he added Hirsch to his roster in March.
Though Hirsch's record is spotty compared to those of his peers -- he was trounced by an unknown fighter in his fourth fight after going pro -- he certainly doesn't suffer for lack of grit or hustle. He began training at the now-legendary King's Gym in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood. Undeterred by a few early beatings from Ward, he developed a fighter's spirit, kept returning to the gym everyday, and began to show promise.
If he wins this weekend's event -- which will only be viewable on the webstream GoFightLive (gfl.tv) -- Hirsch might have a shot at a mainstream career. For boxers, "mainstream" boils down to the number of fights they have broadcast on cable television, and the first of those is considered a rite of passage. (TV contracts are, after all, the main currency in professional boxing.)
Mayfield got his induction to HBO in a much-anticipated undercard
last October, at which he soundly defeated Riverside boxer Mauricio Herrera. The fight turned Mayfield into a known quantity. With a little luck, Hirsch will join the ranks soon.