Yankee Stadium's transformation near complete
The first-ever boxing match at new Yankee Stadium, a four-round super lightweight bout between New York fighters Christian Martinez (3-0, 3 KOs) and Jonathan Cuba (2-1, 2 KOs) is scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. tonight. But with a little less than 90 minutes until first bell, stadium workers still are putting the finishing touches on the boxing setup covering all of rightfield, most of center and extending into short leftfield.
The canopy, which looks like a massive tent, has been raised far above the ring, and video boards hang from three sides. There is plenty of open space around the seating section in deep right field, which suggests promoter Bob Arum wasn't able to sell nearly as many premium seats as the 29,000-seat boxing configuration can hold for the main event, the first defense by Yuri Foreman (28-0, 8 KOs) of his WBA 154-pound title against Miguel Cotto (34-2, 27 KOs).
On Friday, Arum predicted the walkup sale would boost attendance close to 23,000. We'll see. It's breezy, hot and humid, and while there are clouds in the sky, there is no sign of thundershower activity in the vicinity. Then, again, my computer isn't equipped with Doppler radar. If it does rain, the canopy is too high to afford much protection to those in the expensive ringside seats, but fans in the outfield bleachers and seats along the rightfield line can seek protection under the overhanging upper decks.
Some workmen still are fiddling with the lights over the ring for the first fight on the HBO telecast at 10:15 between NABF and NABO super welterweight champion Vanes Martirosyan (27-0, 17 KOs) and Joe Greene (22-0, 14 KOs). The HBO cameras are located in centerfield, shooting over the top of the press section toward the stands behind the first-base line. The fighters will enter the ring from a path extending to the third base dugout.
I see HBO boxing judge Harold Lederman down on the field. He was one of three judges for the last Yankee Stadium bout between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton on Sept. 28, 1976. Looking around the plush new version of the Yankee Stadium, it's much different than the old stadium that lies in ruins now across 161st Street.
We just heard warmup renditions of the Puerto Rican, Israeli and U.S. national anthems. Soon, it will be real. Boxing will be back in Yankee Stadium. I'll post more updates later this evening along with Newsday colleague Marcus Henry.