By Cary Shuman
It didn’t take long for Encore Boston Harbor to establish itself as a major player in the New England boxing scene.
A sell-out crowd of 2,300 fans enjoyed an action-packed show Friday night at the recently opened $2.6 billion resort casino located in Everett. The show, promoted by Murphy’s Boxing, drew what is believed to the largest crowd in years for a Boston-area boxing event.
Fans were awed by the ornate, spacious ballroom that was transformed in to a major-league, Las Vegas-style boxing venue. Fans had an unimpeded view of the ring from their seats.
The public address announcing system, lighting, special effects, and four huge, high-definition televisions made it a spectacular sight and sound experience.
The extra touches, like the free photo booth in which fans could pose in different boxing gear and instantly receive a free photo, was welcomed by all who participated in the experience.
Each fighter walked to the ring to the accompaniment of his own personal entry music. Former world champions Tony DeMarco of the North End and Mickey Ward of Lowell were honored with special awards during the show.
Press Conference, Weigh-In Kick off the Show
The press conference and weigh-in for the fighters was held one day before the show and that, too, was a special experience as everyone knew that they were part of something historic – the first ticketed event at Encore Boston Harbor.
Robert DiSalvio, president of Encore Boston Harbor, personally welcomed the boxing community and Murphy’s Boxing to the five-star resort.
“Good afternoon, everyone, welcome to Encore Boston Harbor,” began DiSalvio. “On behalf of the over 5,000 team members that have joined us here, as you know, we are a new facility and one of our main goals that we could present a very diverse lineup of entertainment options and sporting events for our guests that visit the property.
“I can’t tell you how pleased we are to have Ken Casey and Murphy’s Boxing here for our first championship boxing event,” continued DiSalvio. “We feel this is a great way to kick off this new venue.”
DiSalvio’s appearance and welcoming remarks were much appreciated by the boxers.
“This is awesome,” said main event fighter Greg Vendetti of Stoneham. “I’m honored to be part of the first show [at Encore]. Everyone has been really nice.”
Vendetti would go on to win a unanimous decision over Michael Anderson and capture the IBA Junior Middleweight World Championship. Interestingly, Vendetti was a linebacker for the Northeast Regional Vocational High School (Wakefield) football team.
Ken Casey, frontman for the Dropkick Murphy’s and promoter, also spoke at the press conference.
“This [Encore] is amazing and we’re honored to the first ticketed event, that is exciting stuff, that’s history right there,” said Casey. “We have big plans to bring amazing fights to this casino and hopefully some more world title fights.”
Casey also thanked Encore for its hospitality.
“I can’t say enough about how great Bob [DiSalvio] and his staff have treated us – it’s a first-class venue all around. The set-up [in the boxing venue] is pretty awesome.”
Everett Fans Join Large Crowd at the Show
Boxing fans from Everett joined fans across New England at the show.
City Councillor Michael Marchese, a three-sport athlete at Everett High School who played football for Moody Sarno, said it was exciting to see Everett residents past and present, at the show.
“This is a fantastic venue and there’s life back in Everett,” said Marchese. “It’s good to see people from Everett here and plenty of faces coming back to Everett. The boxing has been outstanding and I look forward to being back here in August for the next event.”
Former cruiserweight champion Richie “The Mountain” LaMontagne of Everett drew a warm reception when he was introduced in the ring.
“I’m so proud of Everett – I love this venue for boxing,” said LaMontagne. “It’s beautiful here. Encore has done a great job. This is great for our city and New England boxing.”
Also seen in the crowd was former Everett High tennis star Eric Glassoff, who is now a successful real estate agent.
“I can’t believe we’re in Everett, it feels like we’re in Las Vegas,” said Glassoff.
Winthrop School Committee member Tino Capobianco was also on hand for Encore’s first-ever show.
“The show has been great,” said Capobianco. “There was no traffic getting here. I took the ferry from downtown. Everyone here is having a great time. New England has a great history with boxing with Rocky Marciano, Mickey Ward, Marvin Hagler, and Johnny Ruiz and it’s great to see Encore carrying on that tradition.”
Murphy’s Boxing will hold its next boxing show at Encore on Aug. 23.