World Championship Boxing hasn’t been to Memphis in over 10 years, but that drought is coming to an end in July.
National promoter and Memphis native Langston Hampton, also known as ‘LankTheKing,’ will usher World Championship Boxing into FedExForum on July 21.
The “Big Payback” will put four world championship belts on the line. The headliner will be future Hall of Famer and six-time champion DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley as he faces off against Vivian Harris in a rematch for the super lightweight title. Corley won the first matchup in May of last year with a unanimous decision.
“A lot of people don’t know DeMarcus Corley is a boxing legend,” Hampton said during a visit to The New Tri-State Defender on Thursday. “He’s one of the last of a dying breed.”
The card will feature fighters from Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s promotional firm Mayweather Promotions. The fighters include Ava Knight, Lanell “KO” Bellows and Charvis Holifield. Holifield’s opponent will be West Memphis’ own Donald Ward, as they compete for the welterweight title.
“We have four fighters from Mayweather Promotions and all of them will fight for the title,” Hampton said. “That’s never been done in that camp, so that’s history being made.”
Bellows will face St. Louis’ Lamar Smith in an eight-round bout.
Bringing a fight to Memphis was a big deal for Hampton, who attended Overton High School and was raised in Orange Mound. Hampton’s roots made getting a local talent like Ward on the card even more of a focus.
The fight-card has big-time drawing power but there is no bigger attraction in the boxing industry than the recently retired Mayweather. Mayweather will be in attendance and will also host an afterparty at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.
Hampton doesn’t shy away from expectations, declaring that Memphis can expect a show and entertaining fights.
“It’ll be a good night of world-class boxing,” Hampton said. “It’ll be some knockouts –some good knockouts.”
With Memphis not having had a big fight since Andre Berto vs Miguel Rodriguez in 2008, Hampton knew he had to make some moves to sway the skeptical and stir interest. He decided to get a video of Mayweather confirming his attendance at the fight and the afterparty.
“People in Memphis believe in what they see and not what they hear,” Hampton said. “Right now, to be honest with you it’s a culture shock.”
Hampton is expecting to sell out FedExForum.
Larry Dodson Jr., who is an event consultant, has worked closely with Hampton on setting up the fight and has seen Hampton’s push to make the fight a must-see for fans.
“He’s expressed to the fighters as a boxing promoter (that) he wants the fans to be entertained,” Dodson said. “Not just come up there and hold each other for the whole fight; we want some entertainment.”
The fight will have tickets as low as $15, with ringside seats available for $100. While some pitched for higher prices, Hampton’s decision to make it widely affordable reflects a resolve to give back to his hometown.
“If a person is working at McDonald’s or the dollar store, they can still come to the fight.”
(Damichael Cole is a rising senior at UT-Knoxville and an MPLOY Youth Summer Experience intern at The New Tri-State Defender.)