CHESTER - A new chapter in the history of boxing at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort was started on Saturday inside a packed house at the Harv where the sport returned for the first time since 2008.
Youngstown boxer Jake Giuriceo capped the eight-bout fight card with an impressive unanimous decision victory in an event in which the promoter wasn't the only famous athlete in attendance.
Former heavyweight champ Michael Moorer along with Pittsburgh Steelers legend L.C. Greenwood and New Orleans Saints running back Chris Ivory were among those who took in a night full of boxing action.
LANDING A LEFT — Youngstown boxer Jake Giuriceo, left, lands a left hook against Juan Santiago during an eight-round super lightweight bout on Saturday at the Harv at Mountaineer. Giuriceo (16-0-1) won the bout by unanimous decision.
-- Mike Mathison
Giuriceo (16-0-1, 3 KO) remained unbeaten and dominated Denver-based boxer Juan Santiago over eight tough rounds.
"We figured we'd have a good following come down for the fight, but it was probably bigger than I thought," Giuriceo said. "Everyone treated us good. The promoters were nice. Everything was great. I'd love to do it again."
The event was promoted by Roy Jones Jr. Presents in association with TNT Promotions. The eight-time world champion took in the action from ringside and thanked fans for their attendance during the night's intermission.
In the event's co-feature bouts, heavyweight Brian Minot, of Butler, Pa., scored a first-round TKO win over Matt Hicks.
A former title challenger, Butler (36-5, 23 KO) had little trouble with the 265-pound Hicks trapping him in the corner and landing a heavy right hand to the head at the 2:48 mark of Round 1.
Joel Diaz Jr., a 20-year-old super featherweight prospect, remained perfect after stopping Yogli Herrera in the fourth round.
Diaz (9-0, 8 KO gained national attention with a knockout victory on Showtime in January and scored five knockdowns against Herrera before the referee called a halt to the bout.
For Giuriceo, who is getting married in May, the fight unfolded much in the way he had thought.
"I knew Santiago was going to be very tough," he said. "He's got a lot of experience and he's a smart guy inside the ring. I got my lip busted, but I'm good. I don't have a mark on my face and I thank God for that."
Giuriceo lived up to his nickname "The Bull" by putting constant pressure on the durable Santiago (13-9-1, 8 KO).
"Staying busying was definitely the plan," Giuriceo said. "That's my fighting style. I like to bring the fight to my opponent and stay in the pocket and fight. We were training for that and I thought we did a great job of accomplishing that.
"Everything seem to come together for us."
Giuriceo said he believes this will move him up the ladder in the rankings at 140 pounds.
"I think we took a good step in the right direction," he said. "These are the fights we need to keep moving up."
Giuriceo said he will stay active in the gym next month, but won't be in the ring until after his wedding date.
"Maybe late June I will fight again," he said. "I'll be in shape so all I'll need is a couple weeks to spar and I'll be ready."
In other action, Monaca's Josh Himes won a decision in the night's opening bout, an amateur contest, over Coshocton's Josh Farley.
Four Pittsburgh-area fighters also earned victories.
Jaque Lutz (5-0, 2 KO) scored a unanimous decision win over Huntington's Michael Wilmer in a light heavyweight contest.
Welterweight Billy Hutchinson (3-1-1, 2 KO) fought to a unanimous decision victory against Mexico's Augustin Cicero in a rematch.
In another welterweight match, Sammy Vasquez Jr. (2-0, 1 KO) defeated Akron's Damon Antoine by unanimous decision.
The final undercard bout saw super middleweight Morgan Fitch (5-0, 3 KO) remain unbeaten after scoring the night's knockout highlight in the first round against Romon Barber.