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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Valentine’s Day Boxing For Lovers & Fighters

Boxing fans often marry people who don’t share their passion for the sport, a circumstance Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing, The Paramount and ESPN have recognized in developing a fight card for Friday, Feb. 14.

Fans who have made arrangements to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their spouse over the weekend of Feb. 15-16 can attend on Feb. 14 the six professional boxing matches being held at The Paramount in downtown Huntington starting at 7:30 p.m. Situated at 370 New York Ave., and open since September 2011, the Paramount holds upwards of 1,555 people.

There are boxing aficionados who under no circumstances can spend Valentine’s Day watching, in-person, ESPN’s Friday Night Fights presented by Corona Extra, lest they want an in-house battle of their own. This is where ESPN 2 and Spanish-language ESPN Desportes+ come in. Those two networks will be broadcasting the Paramount’s proceedings live starting at 9 p.m.

The main event features The Fighting Pride of Huntington, 29-year-old junior welterweight Chris Algieri, a former world kickboxing champion, who is putting his undefeated record (18-0, with eight knockouts) on the line against Edgewood Arsenal, Md., native Emmanuel Taylor (17-1, 12 knockouts). The 23-year-old Taylor is the #4-ranked junior welterweight in the world by the International Boxing Federation (IBF). Algieri, a pre-med student majoring in clinical nutrition, took an absence from his studies over the past few weeks to train in Las Vegas, allowing him to compete against top-notch sparring partners as part of his preparation for the Taylor fight.

“This is an excellent nationally televised match of young, hungry junior welterweights with a lot to gain,” said Joe DeGuardia, president and founder of Star Boxing, the company presenting this Friday night what’s known as Rockin Fights 12. “Chris [Algieri] has made The Paramount his home with his electrifying hometown performances. This will be his eighth fight in the venue, all wins and all sellouts.”

Star Boxing’s Rockin Fights series has sold out each of its 11 previous Paramount events dating back to January 2012, a major reason boxing has seen a renaissance on Long Island over the past two years.

Commentator Joe Tessitore and analyst Teddy Atlas, a distinguished boxing trainer best known for his ties to former world heavyweight champions Mike Tyson and Michael Moorer, will describe the action for ESPN 2. Delvin Rodriguez and Pablo Viruega will call the fights for ESPN Deportes +, which is rebranding its coverage as Noche de Combates (Fight Night).

Three of the five bouts on the undercard feature Huntington fighters: welterweight Wendy Toussaint (3-0), lightweight Alan Gotay (7-0, three knockouts) and lightweight Anthony Karperis (5-1, three knockouts). Toussaint is squaring off against Anthony Gangemi of Mine Hill, N.J.; Gotay is facing Carl McNickles of Chicago, Ill., and Karperis’ opponent is Calvin Smith of Prichard, Ala.

Before Algieri and Taylor get into the ring, fans will see a scheduled six-round fight between two middleweights, Jason Escalera of Union City, N.J., who is 13-1, with 12 of those victories coming via knockout, competing against Lykan Byfield of Atlanta, Ga. The eight-round co-main event between Issouf Kinda of Brooklyn and Jeremy Bryan should be a good one, too. Kinda is 16-1, with six knockouts, and seven of Bryan’s 16 wins have come through knockouts, as well.

Tickets to the Paramount for ESPN Friday Night Fights/Rockin Fights 12 start at $50 per person. They can be purchased through The Paramount Box Office, Ticketmaster or Star Boxing (www.starboxing.com).

The Paramount’s doors open at

7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14. If your spouse is not a boxing fan, and you want to avoid being on the receiving end of an emotional, and perhaps physical, Valentine’s Day Massacre — while still seeing the Algieri-Taylor bout — ESPN has provided a Plan B.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net