On The Mark by Mark Mayer | Few places in Las Vegas haven’t hosted boxing cards, so the Orleans has to come up with ways to make its promotions appealing. Enter matchmaker Frank Luca and the best woman boxer.
"Promoting fights at the Orleans is a stepping stone for us," said Luca, a veteran of 50 years in the fight game and matchmaker for Crown Boxing. "We’re starting out at the Mardi Gras Ballroom with a plan to one day schedule larger cards at Orleans Arena."
This Friday night’s main event features WBA world champion Layla McCarter returning to her Vegas roots to fight Loli "Sugar" Munoz, both the European and Spanish lightweight champ. The betting line on the 135-pound weight class title fight will be released during the week at the Orleans, with McCarter likely a substantial favorite thanks to her notoriety.
"Every fight previously held at the Orleans has been a sellout," said Luca, a native of Canton, Ohio who started boxing at age 12 and went on to train more than 364 fighters in a star-studded career highlighted with his ties to Earnie Shavers, Ray Mancini and Aaron Pryor.
Famed boxing promoter Don King once referred to Luca as "the mastermind." That tag fits his idea of putting women’s boxing center stage.
"McCarter is considered the best female boxer pound-for-pound in the sport," Luca explained. "We’re trying to establish uniformity between the men’s and women’s bouts. Women normally fight two-minute rounds. In this fight, it’s going to be 10 three-minute rounds, just like the men."
There are five other bouts on Friday’s card (matchups subject to change) that will include a men’s cruiserweight encounter between unbeaten Vegas resident Patrick Liles (7-0, 7 KO) and Montana native Leo Biercier, who has never been stopped in 11 fights.
Tickets for Friday night’s action are $50 at ringside and $25 for reserve seating. The Mardi Gras Ballroom can seat approximately 2,000.
It’s not Cotto-Margarito, but not many are. Both Luca and the Orleans are establishing a niche in promoting a sport this city can’t get enough of.
"The Orleans has done a great job of getting behind what we’re trying to present here," Luca said. "If we keep filling out the Ballroom, it can only get better."