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"Solo Boxeo" comes to L.A. for final time

December 11, 2008 |  3:00 pm

The downtown Alameda Swap Meet is nothing like MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

At last Saturday's Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao fight at the Grand, Jennifer Lopez sat across the ring from me.

In contrast, my lasting memory of covering a fight at the swap meet earlier this year was rain cascading down from a tarp right behind me, and pulling a friend out of the way from a very imposing, beer-swilling fight fan.

But the swap meet is an important stop for boxers on the road to Las Vegas. And swap meet fights have been televised since 2000 on the Spanish-language boxing series "Solo Boxeo," which is currently carried by Telefutura.

Bob Arum The series, however, will be stopping by Los Angeles for the final time Friday night, and its last airing will be a fight next week in Denver.

Telefutura announced last month announced that it was scrapping "Solo Boxeo."

That news followed ESPN2's decision to drop "Wednesday Night Fights."

"Solo Boxeo was great for boxing; it helped to develop talent and made a great contribution to the sport," said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who's sending unbeaten super-featherweight Urbano Antillon against Juan Ramon Cruz in Friday night's main event in a card that also will feature Brian "Hawaiian Punch" Viloria.

Indeed, the loss of a boxing series that in more than 400 shows provided early coverage of present-day stars including Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, the Marquez brothers, Kelly Pavlik and Juan Diaz has to hurt. So does depriving the sport of Southland-based broadcaster Bernardo Osuna, who partnered with Ricardo Celis and ring announcer Lupe Contreras in making the series something many anticipated after a long workweek.

Nevertheless, Arum has made several references recently to a possible deal that would feature boxing on free television. He says he's got a plan to deal with life after "Solo Boxeo."

"I've been in business since 1966," he said. "If I could not find solutions to problems, I would have never lasted. I'm not yet at liberty to discuss what I'm talking about, but no one is sitting on their rear saying, 'Woe is me' -- not me, not [Golden Boy Promotions executive] Richard Schaefer, not [promoter] Lou DiBella. Solutions will be found in the near-term rather than the long-term."

The final Alameda Swap Meet card will air for two hours starting at 8 p.m. on Friday on Telefutura. Arum will send Maywood's Antillon, 26, to the ring with a 24-0 record and 17 knockouts.

"He's one of the best 130-135-pound kids out there," Arum said. "He punches [hard]. ... He's a really good prospect."

Top Rank is also promoting the final "Solo Boxeo" card next week in Denver, with unbeaten junior-welterweight "Mighty" Mike Alvarado in the main event.

--Lance Pugmire 

Photo: Bob Arum. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images.