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LI boxers excited about new Nassau Coliseum

Long Island boxing stars Chris Algieri, Joe Smith Jr. and Cletus Seldin visit the new Nassau Coliseum to tour the grounds and view the progress of construction. Credit: Newsday / Chuck Fadely

Joe Smith, Jr. plans to be working on Nassau Coliseum soon, part of the countless horde of laborers, engineers, electricians and masons who are trying to get the venue finished by this coming spring. After he’s done with all that, he plans to come back. This time, as the main event.

Smith, a laborer for Local 66, is also known as “The Beast” around these parts: 22-1-0 and the World Boxing Council International light-heavyweight champion. Wednesday, he and fellow local boxers Chris Algieri, Cletus Selding and Sean Monaghan descended on the construction site as a precursor to a series of boxing events that promoters hope will put the Coliseum on the map as a premier venue for the sport.

“Fighting here, it’s great,” said Smith, who’s gunning for a rematch with Monaghan, whom he defeated in 2008 to become the New York Golden Glove Champion. “I’ll be able to sell the place out with friends and family, being it’s so close to my home [in Shirley]. Everybody will show up. It’ll be great, all the trades, labors and unions are going to show up to support me and I’m looking forward to it . . . The boxing community is going to love it.”

An extension of the Barclays Center’s “Brooklyn Boxing,” “Brooklyn Boxing on Long Island” will host six to eight events at the Coliseum next year, according to a spokesman for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (the company that owns the Coliseum, Barclays Center and the Nets, among other properties). Other than the Paramount Theater in Huntington, it’ll be the only significant venue for boxing on Long Island, said promoter Joe DeGuardia. And, with an expected 14,000 seats, it will be the biggest.

Some of the events will take up the entire arena, while smaller, theater shows fit 4,500 spectators. Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark hopes to further expand the Brooklyn Boxing platform and eventually make the sport a large part of the Coliseum’s programming, similar to what he’s done at Barclays, a spokesman said.

Last month, Newsday reported that Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment was also in negotiations with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to bring mixed martial arts to the Coliseum.

“It’s very realistic that we’re going to be boxing here relatively soon,” said DeGuardia, who represents Smith and many others as part of Star Boxing. “It’s great for the local boxing community . . . Now we have boxing taking place on a big scale.”

Construction on the Coliseum is on schedule, said Rebecca D’Eloia, senior vice president of development for Forest City Ratner, and they expect it to be complete by late March or early April. Currently, they’re preparing the interior for new flooring and seating installation (new seating is expected to arrive by November). They’re also finishing up a bulk of the electrical work.

Jerry Capobianco, Smith’s trainer, is also an engineer who’s worked on the Coliseum in the past. His brother, Kevin, rode the Zamboni there for 10 years, before losing his job when the Islanders left town. Even in its newest iteration, Nassau Coliseum runs in his family’s bloodlines.

“We feel it’s our home,” he said.

Added Algieri: “I’ve been Long Island in Brooklyn, why can’t Brooklyn come to Long Island?”

“It’s incredible to walk in here and see it like this,” he said. “There’s something about it. I think it will be the future of Long Island boxing.”


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