Big Ring On Red Square for City Day

APMaskayev landing a punch against Okhello in the first ever heavyweight title fight held in Moscow, in 2006. Saturday's Red Square battle will be another first.
This year's City Day celebrations will offer something new at the very heart of the capital: boxing on Red Square.

In an unprecedented event being billed as "Ring Stars on Red Square, the former World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, Russia's Oleg Maskayev, will take on journeyman Robert Hawkins in a rematch. Thirteen years ago in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maskayev knocked the then-undefeated American out in the fourth round.

On hand for the event, which organizers expect to draw about 25,000 people, will be members of this year's Russian Olympic Boxing Team, professional stars of the ring past and present and young amateur boxers on their way up.

"There has been nothing like this in the history of boxing," said Tatyana Kiriyenko, deputy head of the Russian Boxing Federation, one of the organizers of the event. "Moscow has never seen boxing on Red Square."

Grandstands will be set up around the ring on the square, providing VIP seating at ringside for special guests and participants from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, as well as general seating for the public, free of charge.

The Russian Boxing Federation has invited all living Russian and Soviet amateur and professional boxing champions to attend the fight.

The undercard will include bouts featuring members of the Russian National Junior Boxing Team as part of their preparations for the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010.

Members of the Russian Olympic team, which brought home two golds and a bronze medal from Beijing, will also be on hand, including two-time Olympic champion Alexei Tishchenko and this year's Olympic heavyweight champion, Rakhim Chakhkiyev.

Singer Iosif Kobzon, the country's most awarded artist, will perform the national anthem before the event.

Maskayev, who is on the comeback trail after losing his heavyweight title to Nigeria's Sam Peter in March, fought in the first WBC Heavyweight Championship bout to be held in Moscow, defeating Uganda's Peter Okhello in 2006.

The event will be televised live nationally on NTV and, in another first, will also be broadcast live on the Internet at www.ringstars.ru.

Russian heavyweight superstar Nikolai Valuyev, who scored a unanimous decision victory over American John Ruiz to claim the vacant World Boxing Association heavyweight title Saturday night in Berlin, will provide color commentary for the evening's main event.

The Russian Boxing Federation's Kiriyenko said the event is being held as part of the City Day celebrations "to promote boxing among the younger generation and to help advertise the forthcoming Amateur Boxing World Cup."

Moscow will host the amateur tournament Dec. 5 to 15 at the Megasport complex.

Ring Stars on Red Square takes place Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. General admission is free, while VIP tickets cost 3,300 rubles to 330,000 rubles (for ringside). Web site: www.kontramark.ru, tel. 933-3200.