Boxing and the waterfront, two realms that are equal parts sunny and shady, have a long history together. Early heavyweight champ James J. Corbett fought on a barge in San Francisco Bay in 1889, a time when boxing wasn't always perfectly legal. More legitimate fight cards in Atlantic City have been called "Boardwalk Brawl" or "The War at the Shore."
Philadelphia's riverfront joins the fray Sunday afternoon when the Hyatt Regency Penn's Landing hosts boxing for the first time.
Boxing impresario Don Elbaum called seeking input for what to call this riverfront boxing event, and the suggestion here was "The Slaughter on the Water." He went with "Fight Day on the Delaware" instead, figuring he needs to remind fans it's a daytime show (first bout begins at 2 p.m.) and emphasize which river is involved.
Gil Hall, director of catering and convention services at the Hyatt, said he previously hosted a successful boxing show at the Hyatt in Kansas City, and if this one works out well he's happy to have more. The hotel ballroom will be set up to hold 800.
Aaron Pryor Jr., a 13-2 super middleweight from Cincinnati, headlines the card, currently slated to have six fights. He faces Willis Lockett of Takoma Park, Md., in an eight-rounder. Yes, Pryor is a son of former junior welterweight champion Aaron Pryor, an all-time great action fighter and Hall of Famer. He resembles his father facially, but Pryor Jr. is nearly 6-foot-5. His dad was barely 5-7. Junior says his style is more like that of another 1980s punching hero of the Midwest, Thomas Hearns.
"My dad wants me to be my own fighter," Pryor Jr. said Wednesday after arriving in Philadelphia for his first-ever visit. "One thing we do share is the same heart."
Pryor Sr., who hit hard times with substance abuse after his glory days but is in better shape now, is expected to be at the fight. But before landing in Philly, he is to attend Saturday's induction ceremony at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y. (He was inducted in 1996.)