Richardson Hitchins couldn’t have asked for anything more.
The Brooklyn native was in the ring for the first time as a pro, right in his hometown, and right at home at Barclays Center.
“A dream come true,” he called it.
Hitchins actually wasn’t out there very long. It took the 2016 Olympian less than two minutes to dispatch Mario Perez in a matchup of young welterweights.
“I established my jab,” said Hitchins. “I’m an accurate puncher. I knew as soon as that right hand landed, I was going to see where he’s at; if he’s going to take it, if it’s going to be a long night. I saw him trying to step back and get away. He went on survival mode. I tried to rush it a little bit, but I tried to stay composed.
“I caught him and it was done. I expected him to get up.”
Hitchins finished off Perez before the biggest boxing crowd in Barclays Center history had finished filling the seats for the main event, the welterweight unification title bout between Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman.
But he offered the latest reminder that the thrill of BROOKLYN BOXING is about more than the headliners. Over the last five years, up-and-coming boxers have taken huge steps toward stardom in the Barclays Center ring.
The Thurman-Garcia crowd saw another rising star back in March in super welterweight Erickson Lubin. ESPN’s 2016 Prospect of the Year set himself up for a title shot with a fourth-round TKO of Jorge Cota, punishing the veteran from start to finish. Lubin is just three-and-a-half years into his career with an 18-0 record. Just 21 years old, if he gets his title shot this year and triumphs, he’ll be the boxing’s youngest world champion.
Currently, that distinction belongs to Gervonta Davis. In January, the 22-year-old took the IBF world super featherweight title with a seventh-round TKO of Jose Pedraza at Barclays Center.
From the start, BROOKLYN BOXING has offered a spotlight to young fighters, particularly local boxers like Hitchins. Staten Island’s Marcus Browne made his first Barclays Center appearance on the arena’s second fight night in March 2013, an event that also featured the future unified welterweight champ Thurman on the undercard.
It was Browne’s second pro fight after he represented the United States at the 2012 Olympics, and he fought 11 times at Barclays Center over a three-year span while running his pro record to 20-0.
Browne is just one of the 2012 Olympians who have emerged as title contenders since turning pro. Another is Errol Spence Jr., who fought twice in Brooklyn in 2016.
At Barclays Center last April, Spence took on former WBO world super lightweight champion Chris Algieri, who had gone the distance with Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan. In August on Coney Island, Spence headlined his first bout card against another experienced fighter, Leonard Bundu.
Spence put the tough-as-nails Algieri on the mat three times on the way to a fifth-round TKO, with the referee waving off the bout without a count on the third knockdown. Four months later, Spence knocked out Bundu in the fifth.
“Chris Algieri, he fought Manny Pacqiauo and went the distance,” said Spence. “You have Bundu who went the distance with Keith Thurman, marked up Keith Thurman pretty good. It was kind of a range-finder to see where my skills were at, how I do under pressure, and I thought I did great.”
The two wins in Brooklyn propelled Spence to his first title shot, coming up next month against IBF welterweight champ Kell Brook in England. Spence plans on bringing the belt back to the United States. And he’d like to be back in the ring at Barclays Center, this time as champion.
“I’ve got great memories in Brooklyn,” Spence said while at the arena for the Thurman-Garcia fight. “All knockouts.
“I’ll definitely come back here.”
That’s the path Richardson Hitchins wants to follow. Originally from Crown Heights, the 19-year-old moved to Flatbush when he was five. That’s where he found the Atlas Cops & Kids Boxing Program at a neighborhood PAL gym six years ago. He won two Golden Gloves titles at Barclays Center before signing with Mayweather Promotions and turning pro. He’s back here tonight for his second pro fight.
“I want to make Barclays Center my home,” said Hitchins, “fighting big cards and targeting that world title shot.”
One after another, the electric matchups in the loaded welterweight division keep coming. And they keep coming to Barclays Center.
The latest is Andre Berto vs. Shawn Porter on Saturday, April 22. Two former champions, now one night away from another shot at reclaiming a belt.
Both fighters are trying to prove they deserve to be part of the championship conversations following setbacks. Porter’s was by the narrowest of margins.
Last June at Barclays Center he lost a narrow decision to Keith Thurman, 115-113 on all three scorecards in a bout that ESPN.com ranked as one of its top five fights of 2016. Thurman retained his WBC title and added the WBA belt with his win over Danny Garcia at Barclays Center on March 4.
That very same night, as the Berto vs. Porter matchup was being announced, the fighters learned their winner would be the mandatory challenger to Thurman for the WBC title that Berto once held, and that Porter was so close to claiming last June.
“I couldn’t have been more surprised,” said Porter of learning that this would be a title eliminator bout. “I don’t think there was anything in my life that I’ve been more pleased with a surprise other than that.
“My heart, it just glowed with happiness. I’m looking forward to this fight. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time.”
The 33-year-old Berto is four years older than Porter. He’s followed a longer road back to this opportunity, and a longer road period. He’s seen the boxing world from all sides and watched the narrative around him change.
Berto had his turn as the hot rising star, winning his first 27 pro fights and capturing the WBC title in 2008.
The ride came to an end with a loss to Victor Ortiz almost exactly six years ago in April 2011. That was the first of three losses in four fights for Berto, who battled shoulder problems and eventually had surgery.
He returned with wins against Steve Chambers and Josesito Lopez before dropping a decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the undefeated, unified champ’s last fight.
In April 2016 Berto got his long-awaited rematch against Victor Ortiz and made a thunderous statement with a fourth-round knockout.
“From my first loss I’ve been written off,” said Berto. “That’s just the way the fight game is. From my first loss on it’s been speculation. I’ve been through my hard times. Everything I’ve been through in this fight game has been on that TV screen.
“I love it because I love that rollercoaster ride. I’ve never seen my career as being perfect. I always wanted to feel everything this game has to offer.”
Porter expected to be back in this position, but maybe not this quickly. Berto has battled back from an unexpected detour to get back in the mix for a title shot.
“This should be a very good fight,” said Porter. “That’s why this fight is very anticipated because you know what I can do and you know what Andre can do.”
The undercards promise as much action as the Berto vs. Porter main event. Unbeaten world super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo makes his first title defense against Charles Hatley and four-division champion Amanda Serrano will be looking to make history as the first woman and first Puerto Rican fighter to win a fifth world title in five different weight classes.
Jacobs To Be Honored In Ceremony During Berto vs. Porter Event at Barclays Center
BROOKLYN (April 10, 2017) – Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams will declare Saturday, April 22, 2017 to be ‘Daniel Jacobs Day’ in Brooklyn, in a ceremony at that evening’s Andre Berto vs. Shawn Porter welterweight showdown at Barclays Center.
Jacobs’ Get In The Ring Foundation, through which he advocates for children struggling with cancer, childhood obesity, and bullying, will donate 100 tickets to the event to local families, children, teens in the Brooklyn community.
Jacobs, a Brownsville, Brooklyn-native, has fought at Barclays Center five times, and most recently, challenged Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in a closely contested loss. Jacobs is the face of BROOKLYN BOXING™, the flourishing boxing platform for Barclays Center, through which he trains and competes in branded gloves, trunks, shoes and robes.
In March, BROOKLYN BOXING unveiled a special merchandise collection in Jacobs’ honor, which features sweatshirts, sweatpants, t-shirts, and hats adorned with black and gold BROOKLYN BOXING branding alongside the fighter’s “Miracle Man” moniker, and is sold at BrooklynBoxingShop.com.
In 2011, Jacobs was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a life-threatening form of bone cancer. After an arduous battle, radiation treatments and surgery, Jacobs returned to the ring at Barclays Center where he went on to win the WBA world middleweight title in August 2014.
ABOUT BROOKLYN SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) develops and operates state-of-the-art venues and manages premier sports franchises, delivering dynamic content and experiences for audiences. BSE oversees programming, marketing, sales, and operations for Barclays Center and NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Presented By New York Community Bank, and manages and controls the NBA's Brooklyn Nets and its Development League team, the Long Island Nets, as well as the business operations of the NHL's New York Islanders.
Barclays Center, which opened on September 28, 2012, offers 17,732 seats for basketball, 15,795 for hockey, and up to 19,000 seats for concerts, and has 101 luxury suites, four bars/lounges, four clubs, and 40/40 CLUB & Restaurant by Tanduay.
NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, is scheduled to reopen April 5, 2017 after extensive renovation. The Coliseum offers 14,500 seats for basketball, MMA and boxing, 13,900 for hockey, up to 16,000 for concerts, and 4,500 seats for its theater configuration. With a focus on emerging businesses, BSE identifies and creates alliances, strategic partnerships and other business opportunities to ensure the success of its assets.
For additional information, please visit brooklynse.com.
Now the countdown can really begin.
Fight week began for Daniel Jacobs on Monday with a trip to ring the bell opening the New York Stock Exchange, followed by a midday press conference with his opponent for Saturday night’s middleweight championship bout, Gennady Golovkin.
“I’m glad to be back in New York City,” said the Brooklyn native. “I remember coming home Saturday and driving around listening to Notorious B.I.G. and listening to all that Brooklyn love and feeling the spirit. I’m back. Back in New York City where it all started.”
Jacobs spent training camp in California along with trainer Andre Rozier at trainer Virgil Hunter’s gym. He had a new addition to his camp in fellow fighter Chris Algieri, the former junior welterweight champ. Algieri brought nutritional guidance and more to Jacobs’ preparation.
“It was a joy to have him in camp, have great conversations with him, have good nutrition,” said Jacobs. “He understands what it means to be at this level.”
On Sunday night, Jacobs stopped by Barclays Center to greet fans and unveil the new “Miracle Man” line of apparel from BROOKLYN BOXING. It was six years ago that he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma and underwent surgery to remove a tumor wrapped around his spine, followed by two dozen radiation treatments.
Doctors told him he wouldn’t box again. Jacobs defied the odds, but the road was long.
“I would have never thought five years ago going through a whole bunch of craziness outside the ring that I would be fighting for middleweight superamacy,” said Jacobs.
He made his return to the ring at Barclays Center on Oct. 20, 2012 for the arena's first-ever fight night. Two years later he defeated Jarrod Fletcher in that same ring for the WBA world middleweight title.
Since his return he’s won 10 straight fights — all by by stoppage, no decisions — to run his career record to 32-1 with 29 knockouts.
“We’re fighting for history,” said Golovkin earlier this year. “This guy, he’s more dangerous and much, much better than anyone I’ve faced. He’s my best opponent.”
Golovkin is the holder of four championship belts, with a 36-0 record and 33 knockouts. Back in September, one day after Jacobs beat Sergio Mora in his most recent bout, Golovkin registered a TKO win against IBF welterweight champ Kell Brook.
“You’ve got to take that leap of faith in yourself, and then you’ll see what you’re made of,” said Jacobs during a visit to the Brooklyn Nets’ HSS Training Center back in December. “It’s about rising to the occasion. And all the greats always rise to the occasion.”
That opportunity is almost here. Just a few more days.
“I’m so focused,” said Jacobs. “’I’m so ready. I want it.”