Report/Photos by David Finger
It’s been close to three years since Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) came to the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas but boxing fans in the Sun City are still talking about the night of July 18, 2015. It was arguably the greatest night of professional boxing in the long, storied history of El Paso Boxing with a double header featuring two world championship fights and a main event featuring Mexico’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. taking on Chihuahua native Marcos Reyes in a ten round brawl. Rounding off that card were 14 other fights featuring some of PBC’s most popular prospects.
But if there was one complaint about the card with local fans it was this: there simply wasn’t enough local talent on the card.
Well, PBC is back in the Sun City…and they listened.
Former WBC welterweight champion “Vicious” Victor Ortiz (32-6-2, 25 KOs) looks to continue his comeback on a Fox televised card on February 17, 2018 as he takes on fellow former world champion Devon Alexander (27-4, 14 KOs) in the main event of an exciting card that will undoubtedly rival the fireworks of July 18, 2015. But unlike with the Chavez-Reyes card, the undercard will feature two of El Paso and Las Cruces’s most popular fighters in Jennifer Han and Austin “No Doubt” Trout (30-4, 17 KOs) of Las Cruces, New Mexico and IBF women’s featherweight champion Jennifer Han (16-3-1, 1 KO) of El Paso will both be featured on non-televised fights on the undercard of the Alexander-Ortiz bout. Kicking off the event was a press conference held at the Wyndham Airport Hotel in El Paso on Wednesday, January 10 as Trout, Han, Ortiz, and Alexander all talked about coming to West Texas for one of the biggest fights in the city’s history.
“This is going to be an excellent fight,” Devon Alexander said when introduced to the assembled media and fans present. “I’ve known Victor for quite some time now. And this is business…I’m not his friend in the ring. This is not laughy-laughy, joke, joke when you get in the ring. Because I know he’s going to come do the same and I’m going to do the same. This fight is a crossroads fight for me. I think I’m the best fighter in the world and I have to prove that February 17th.”
Alexander also admitted that he recognized that he lost valuable time in the ring and is keen to make 2018 a breakout year.
“That’s all that’s been on my mind since the fights been announced: getting back what I lost. I lost two years of my career already and I don’t plan on losing anytime soon. Expect fireworks February 17th.”
Victor Ortiz spoke after Alexander and was also respectful, animated and good natured.
“This is business,” Ortiz concurred, turning to Alexander. “We are warriors. You are not going to like me much come February 17th and I definitely won’t like you much. At the end of the day we both know what we come to do: I come for that victory.”
Ortiz also spoke candidly about the ups and downs in his career since turning pro in 2004.
“You know I’ve been counted out many times already,” Ortiz admitted. “I was actually called a couple of days ago by one of my boys who said ‘you’re fighting again?!’ I said yeah bro, main event. He said ‘dude, you got nine lives bro!'”
Still, Ortiz was also confident that the best was yet to come.
“We’ll stay healthy and keep coming forward and we’ll raise our hand in victory and someday soon my son will call me daddy’s champ.”
There was no question that both fighter genuinely liked each other and respected each other, although there was also no question that both fighters recognized that there would be no laughing on February 17th.
“Devon…I hate you.” Ortiz said to laughter from both the assembled media and even his opponent when it was mentioned that there wasn’t a visible animosity between the fighters on stage.
“He has a mutual respect and I have mutual respect. Why? Because he’s a hell of a fighter and a hell of a world champion…as am I. So we know exactly what’s going to happen on February 17th: two warriors are going to step in. It’s a dog fight…not the Chihuahuas.”
Alexander also opened up about his recovery from opioid addiction.
“I’m not fighting for myself anymore as I get older,” Alexander admitted. “I’m not fighting for myself. I’m fighting for the people who’ve been addicted to pain killers, addicted to heroin. If I win they’re going to win. It’s bigger than me. It’s an epidemic.”
Kicking off the press conference was Las Cruces, New Mexico’s Austin Trout, who undoubtedly stole the show when he arrived at the press conference with his pet dog.
“I’m looking forward to fighting at home,” Austin Trout said when introduced to the assembled media. “Many of you know I was born in El Paso and I live right down the street in Las Cruces where I started and continued my career.”
Trout was also appreciative of the opportunity to be fighting on the undercard of the Fox televised card.
“It’s one hell of a card to be part of and really one hell of a night of boxing to be part of.” Trout added. “I’m glad to be part of it all. Look forward to fighting next to Jennifer Han again. It’s the El Paso sweetheart and the Las Cruces tough guy.”
It was a perfect pivot into the next fighter to be introduced to the media: El Paso’s first, and to date only, world champion: Jennifer Han.
“I’m so excited to be part of this card,” Han said to the media. “There is so much talent and it’s going to be an amazing show. We are going to make El Paso extremely proud. Everyone knows we are going to bring the show here. Come out and support us and we’re not going to let you down.”
Tickets will go on sale this Friday (February 12, 2018) with tickets starting at only $25. They can be obtained by calling the UTEP Ticket Center at 1-915-533-9899 or by going online to ticketmaster.com.
Doors will open at 4PM with the first fight kicking off shortly thereafter.