The last great world boxing champion to come from Cleveland, Ohio was the great light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim, who fought great champions like Sugar Ray Robinson and Archie Moore.
Local boxing promoter Cortez Bey of Bey Bros Promotion is looking to turn the city of Cleveland into a Mecca of boxing champions. But if you’re thinking that Bey is just generating hype in the name of generating publicity, he has already experienced some success putting his fighters on the world stage.
Cortez’s older brother, Mickey Bey, won the International Boxing Federation lightweight title back in 2014 and even though he vacated the title in 2015, he is still considered a major contender for the 135-pound title. In his last fight back in 2019, he lost a split decision to George Kambosos, the current undisputed lightweight champion of the world who is going up against Devin Haney.
With Mickey Bey’s success, Cortez wants the world to know that there is some top-notch boxing talent in Cleveland and that he has the experience to put the best fighters in both Cleveland and other parts of Ohio on the world stage.
“It’s not so much of the promise that my brother was a world champion,” Bey said. “It was all the steps of what it took to get to that level and to make it happen. What I’m trying to do is to give these guys a platform so they can make a name for themselves at home in Cleveland.”
On Friday, June 17 at Migs Pla-More Roller Rink in Euclid, Bey Bros Promotion is presenting, “KO in Ohio,” will be a six-fight card that will feature some of the best fighters in Cleveland and the state of Ohio. The fight will be live streamed locally and doors open at 5-pm.
“I want people to know that Cleveland is an amazing place to come and do fights because we have real good sports and we have diehard sports fans,” Bey said. “We haven’t gotten them to recognize these boxers yet which is what I plan to do with ‘KO in Ohio.’ I plan to showcase fighters not only from Cleveland but all over Ohio. … These guys from Ohio will fight anybody … I want this place to travel to watch some of these fights.”
While Cleveland itself hasn’t had a lot of world champions, the state of Ohio itself has produced some great world champions like Shawn Porter, Aaron Pryor out of Cincinnati, Buster Douglass (Columbus) Kelly Pavlik (Youngstown), and Ray “Boom Boom”. ” Mancini.
Amateur boxers from Ohio have performed well at the Olympic level as well. At the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, two male Ohio fighters-featherweight Duke Ragan of Cincinnati and welterweight Ahead Johnson made it to the quarterfinal round. Junior lightweight Ry Ford said there are a lot of good up-and-coming pro boxers in the state of Ohio.
“It’s a bunch of talent in Cleveland,” Ford said. “A lot of hardworking guys in Ohio.”
Ford is one of the featured fighters on this card and Bey believes Ford has the potential to rise through the ranks and one day become a world champion. The 28-year-old from Alliance has a 7-1 record with five knockouts. Three of Ford’s last four fights have ended with a knockout. At 5-foot-11, Ford is taller than most fighters in his weight class and has the ability to keep opponents from coming inside with a long-left jab.
“He has good skills, good punching power. He’s a dedicated fighter (Ford) has it all,” Bey said. “He’s a real promising fighter. He lost a fight early in his career, but ever since he’s been on a nice winning streak.”
Ford said he uses height against smaller fighters by his long arms to be able to fight in the middle of the ring and on the inside.
“My height helps out a lot,” Ford said. “I start it off by shooting my jab because my arms are longer than a lot of these guys and I just keep them at bay and then control the pace from there. If I want to get on the inside, I’ll get on the inside and I have the opportunity to get them out of there, I’ll get them out of there.”
Another fighter that Bey said fans should keep their eyes on for his boxing card is junior welterweight Amir Mason is 2-0 (1 KO). Another Cleveland fighter Brandon Vega, who had an 8-3 record as an amateur according to Boxrec.com will make his pro debut on Bey’s card.
“These guys are versatile. They can bang and they can box,” Bey said. “They have the ability to switch it up at any moment in a fight. That’s what makes these guys potential world champions.