Photos by Gautham Nagesh for StiffJab.com
by Gautham Nagesh
Thursday marks one of my favorite events of the year: Fight Night 2012 at the Washington Hilton, which benefits Fight for Children. This will be my third year covering the black tie event, and the first I won’t have to pull double duty for The Hill. Fortunately, that means I’ll be able to devote my full attention to covering the best fight card they’ve had in recent memory.
The main event was supposed to pit Arlington junior welterweight Bayan Jargal against Lonnie “El Negro Mexicano” Smith, but Smith has reportedly gone AWOL. Jargal is still scheduled to fight, likely against the kind of short-notice opposition that shouldn’t pose too much trouble. The Mongolian native has a granite chin and plenty of heart, but lost three straight fights before taking almost a year off and returning with a win earlier this month. Hopefully he spent that time in the gym refining his offense, rather than soul-searching.
More exciting for our readers is the news both light heavyweight Greg Newby of the Lime Lite All-Stars and heavyweight Jerry Forrest will fight for the second time professionally. Newby will take on Baltimore’s Tacuna Farmer, who is making his pro debut, while Forrest will face the 3-0-1 (3 KOs) Brice Ritani of Las Vegas. Newby has had a couple fights fall through lately, while Forrest’s difficulty finding opponents is well-documented. Nothing is guaranteed is boxing, but Fight Night is about as first-class as such events get. Hopefully the fights will take place, even though in truth, the crowd barely notices.
The evening is definitely more about cigars, tuxedos and rubbing elbows with big shots and beautiful women than boxing, though former superstars like Sugar Ray Leonard, Ray Mancini, Larry Holmes and Roy Jones Jr. will be on hand as always. But the main point of Fight Night has always been raising money for Fight for Children, which works to ensure D.C. kids are healthy and educated. This year is particularly notable in that it’s the first since the passing of Fight Night founder Joseph Robert Jr., who raised over $32 million for local children since the first Fight Night in 1990. Fortunately, ObjectVideo chairman Raul Fernandez has stepped up to take the reins.
“We are thrilled that Raul Fernandez has stepped up to the plate in such a big way as we move to a new era for both Fight Night and Fight For Children,” said Michela English, CEO of Fight For Children. “He, along with the other co-chairs, have injected a new level of excitement into the event that will be felt by every one of our attendees, and we’re thrilled to have them heading up our event leadership in 2012.”
Fernandez has teamed up with other long-time Fight For Children supporters to launch Joe’s Champs, an early childhood program targeted at D.C.’s highest need neighborhoods. Together the supporters are ensuring that Fight Night will become Robert’s lasting legacy, and an important force to ensure that the area’s economic growth affects all of its residents.
It’s also one of the hottest tickets in town, thanks to the A-list roster of guests and sponsors, the freely flowing drinks, and one of the only silent auctions with items worth bidding on. A few stiff drinks and I found myself going home with a jersey and helmet both signed by Joe Montana after last year’s event. I hope to exercise more self-control this year, but I can’t promise anything. After the fights, the guests join the ladies from the Knock Out Abuse gala at the Ritz for an after-party that goes into the wee hours. If that sounds awesome, it is.