Boxing’s March Mayhem comes to Pittsburgh

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Rich Cantolina (right center) and Derek Gionta (far right) talking to Referee Tim Shipley (far left) and Chris Willimas (left center) before his fight against Brock Willis on November 2nd, 2019 at Printscape Arena. Photo by Tyler Polk.

Since stepping into Monroeville’s Boyce Boxing Gym in November 2000, Derek Gionta has been a part of the Pittsburgh boxing scene. He started competing as a sophomore in college and later trained, managed and made matches for boxing cards since

“I wanted to learn about boxing,” said Gionta. “I followed boxing for a long time prior, and this was my chance to learn the sport from a hands-on standpoint.

Gionta will now add promoter to his boxing resume with his first event, March Mayhem, at the Pittsburgh Shrine Center in Cheswick on March 7th.

He acquired his license to promote pro fights in January. He’s helped with matchmaking amateur cards like the Golden Gloves for the past four years and pro cards for shows at the Meadows and Rivers Casinos.

Promoting shows is a different animal. Gionta is matchmaking the card, but he’s learning about the other details; ticket sales, seating charts, event staff, security, and more. He cites Mike McSorley and J.J Richardson, who promote for Integrity Fighter Management as a mentor in this process.

“They’re doing probably a consistent four shows a year, and I’ve had guys on their cards since they began,” said Gionta. “Talking to them and seeing other cards outside the area has been a big help.

Rich Cantolina connecting on a jab to Brock Willis on November 9th, at Printscape Arena. Photo by Tyler Polk.

The amount of pro cards in Pittsburgh is rising, every month there seems to be an event whether it’s at the casinos or by other boxing management teams. Integrity will be running a professional card in the South Side later this month.

“I’d like to add a couple shows this year, maybe even go outside the area,” said Gionta. “I’d like to run cards [when the casinos or other promotions are not holding boxing events] so [fighters] can stay active and not interfere on other shows.”

The card will be represented heavily by fighters from his team, Gionta Management, along with other fighters.

The main event of the card will be Rich Cantolina (6-0), who moved to the Kiski Area is excited to have a match in his new residence.

“I’ve been to the Shriners Center, but I’ve never had the pleasure of fighting there,” said Cantolina. “It’s a unique venue, and I’m super excited.”

Gionta started managing Cantolina before his third professional fight. He calls it an honor and a pleasure to be fighting on this card.

“Derek is so knowledgeable about the game. He’s been around fighting and fought himself, so he sees it from both sides,” said Cantolina. “I don’t think there’s anybody in this area, maybe the country that’s more knowledgeable about boxing.”

His opponent, Dave Tomaso (1-3), is not to be taken lightly. Cantolina calls the former NY Golden Gloves champion “rugged and tough fighter,” who had fought against ESPN top rank fighters.

Kel Smith (left) and Oleg Dovhun sparring at Conn-Greb Boxing Gym in Oakland. Photo by Matte Bradic.

“From the videos I’ve seen, you can never judge a book by its cover,” said Cantolina. “He keeps moving forward and throws a lot of punches. I’ll hopefully be able to showcase my boxing abilities, footwork, and skills.”

Also fighting on the card is Oleh Dovhun from Integrity Fighter Management (10-0) going against a former WBA World Light Flyweight Champion Jose Alfredo Rodriguez (32-10). Dovhun wants to make a statement towards challenging for a world title.

“He beat a lot of good opponents and has a lot of professional experience,” said Dovhun. “I have amateur experience. If this goes this distance, I will win, but I think I will stop him in two or three rounds.”

In addition to the two fights, other Gionta Management fighters scheduled to appear are “Lethal” Leemont Johnson (6-1), Ryizeemon Ford (3-0), Freddy Latham (9-2-2), Joel De La Paz (9-1), Deon Goodlow (1-3), and James Bryant (5-1).

“It’s exciting to see all of these guys on the same card.”, said Gionta. “They’ll feed off each other’s energy, and they are ready to put on a good show.”

Tickets range from $35 dollars for general admission to $125 for ringside seats.For tickets call 412-759-0407