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Christan Zaccagnino

Huge Opportunity for El Harrak

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Sid “The Messenger” El Harrak will have a career changing opportunity when he faces unbeaten and highly regarded Chris Pearson Satruday, May 3 as part of the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana Undercard.

El Harrak, 12-2-1 (7 KO’s), stopped his last two opponents but has had countless fights fall apart during the last few years. The California native fought title contender Jesus Soto Karass in May 2012, dropping a split decision on Box Azteca.

Pearson, who hails from Dayton, OH, is 11-0 with 9 wins by knockout. The 23-year-old showed he has a bright future in his last bout, outpointing notoriously tough Lanardo Tyner on Shobox: The New Generation.

Harrak meets Pearson at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV as part of the biggest card of 2014.

Melson applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo for reinstating SCI funding

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New York, NY (April 7, 2014) – For the last two years, junior middleweight and charity hero Boyd “Rainmaker” Melson, along with the coalition he is a member of known as “New Yorkers To Cure Paralysis,” lobbied the State of New York to do the right thing.

In 1998, then Governor George Pataki passed a bill adding a 5.4% surcharge to all moving violations for the specific purpose of creating funds for Spinal Cord Injury research in New York. The funds created approximately $8.5 million annually. Sadly, due to our nation’s recession at that time, the funds were redirected to other unrelated causes in 2009 by Governor David Patterson. In January of 2013, Melson was asked to join the coalition “New Yorkers To Cure Paralysis.” As part of this team, Melson went to Albany and pleaded with state officials to reinstate funding for Spinal Cord Injury research.

In 2013, partial funding was returned through amendments, adding $2 million to the state budget for Spinal Cord Injury Research. This was added only weeks after Melson delivered an emotionally driven speech to the Advisor of Assemblyman Richard Gottfried. Since 1987, Gottfried served as New York’s Chair of the Healthcare Committee. This year, Melson and his fellow members of New Yorkers New York To Cure Paralysis united again in Albany, and after great lobbying efforts in front of either Congressmen or their Advisors, officials agreed to reinstate $7 million for the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program (SCIRP) in their 2014-2015 budget.

“Words can’t express how happy I am,” Melson said of New York State’s decision to return $7 million in funding. “We fought hard for the money to be reinstated because there are so many people in need. This bill was created specifically for Spinal Cord Injury research in the state of New York. It was always our money but it was taken from us. We understood why due to the new financial stressors a national recession placed on us, but now we needed to take back what was never truly theirs. We were forced to beg to get back what was always ours.”

Melson was also thrilled that the unified effort helped play a part in the reinstated funding.

“We came together, found the correct words to resonate with the lawmakers and touch their hearts, and they finally opened their hearts back up to us. I consider this a major victory for Spinal Cord Injury research and hopefully the additional money will help with finding a cure. The clinical trial that I donate my purses to and Team Fight To Walk has helped raise a quarter million dollars for, has the ability to receive some of this funding to conduct the clinical trial. You have to believe. There is always one more round in life. The bell will always ring signaling the start of it. You have to decide what you are going to do when the bell rings. Are you going to get up or stay on your stool? If you get up, will you fight back? We got up, fought back and scored a major victory!”

Melson, who has a professional record of 14-1-1 but suffered a serious injury in his most recent bout, is targeting a mid-summer return to the ring.

Cunningham in for the Fight of His Life April 4

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Philadelphia, PA: Steve “USS” Cunningham (26-6-0, 12 KOs) has more motivation than ever to defeat Amir “Hardcore” Mansour (20-0-0, 15 KOs) on Friday, April 4th at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, PA and live on NBCSN Fight Night. Cunningham said, “This isn’t about a belt or about winning, this time I need this for my family. I need to make money. I have to get a new house for my daughter’s condition. I am fighting for another pay day and to keep going. ”

His opponent did not fight professionally for over nine years while he served time in Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution in Minersville, PA for drug possession, though he spent any free time training and honing his boxing skills behind bars. Steve took a very different path to get here. He learned to box while serving in the United States Navy but he believes both men are equally as hungry, “I know Mansour speaks about how hungry he is and how his time in prison made him so, but I don’t have time to waste either. I am fighting for something much more important.”

The two men sparred together when Mansour was first released from prison. Cunningham said, “I have worked with him on one fight. It was a good learning experience for me. He was much stronger and much hungrier. He is older but very powerful. Those years in prison kept him young. I have seen him fight numerous times. He is pretty good but I believe Steve Cunningham beats Mansour. It won’t be easy. I think he makes for a rough fight. I can get gritty and grimy with him; if I need to be I will.”

Mansour was emotional when he reflected on their sparring sessions, “When I got home in 2010, Steve was the first person I saw. He was fighting a southpaw and needed a sparring partner. I was so happy that I performed well with a world champion after an eight and half year layoff that I was literally crying.”

Cunningham’s strategy for this fight is simple, “My strategy is to be me, but the best version of me with added things. With Adamek I should have won but some people said I could have stepped it up a bit. Well this time I am going to step it up a lot. If I can stop him, I will. Opposition brings out the best in me.”

The 37 year old heavyweight will compete in front of his hometown crowd for the first time since March 29, 2003 when he defeated Demetrius Jenkins in an eight round unanimous decision victory at the historic Spectrum. Cunningham promises to put on a show for his hometown crowd, “This will be the best Steve Cunningham the world has ever seen.”

Melson Reflects on Paralyzing In-Ring Experience

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New York, NY (March 5, 2014) – For the first two and a half rounds of his February 12 bout against veteran Donald “Bulldog” Ward, rising junior middleweight Captain Boyd “Rainmaker” Melson appeared en-route to another impressive victory. In the second, Melson nearly stopped Ward and was seeking to score a knockout in the Roseland Ballroom’s final fight.

This was until an unexpected injury completely debilitated the 2003 West Point Graduate.

In the third round with the fight in his control, Melson’s entire right arm was temporarily paralyzed after throwing a hook. Shockingly, Melson was diagnosed after the fight with a stretched brachial plexus, which controls all of the movement and feeling from his collar bone down to his fingertips. From that moment forward, he was unable to throw jabs or his trademark check-hooks, as his right arm literally dangled at his side. Realizing his foe was at a major disadvantage, Ward looked to turn the tides.

For the next five and a half stanzas of the scheduled eight rounder, Melson struggled mightily as a one-armed fighter. Having to rely on his less coordinated arm, Melson used his intelligence and left arm to fight on.

“Doctor Barry Jordan of the New York State Athletic Commission told me he was astonished that I finished the fight and he’d never seen an injury like mine in 30 years of working with fighters,” stated Melson. “Dr. Jordan told me “often in the NFL, you will see players taken off the field with their arm dangling lifeless, sidelining them for weeks.”

Melson, an Army Reserve Officer, refused to quit even with the circumstances.

“My arm down to my fingertips felt like it weighed 1000 pounds and I literally could not move it. The pain was surreal and crippling in itself. I was nervous I was going to get stopped since I wasn’t able to fully defend myself. I felt disconnect from my right shoulder, making my arm go limp in segments down to my fingertips. Then it became heavy to the point where I could not move it. I tried moving my finger tips and they were frozen. When I tied my opponent up, my first thought was that I am having a stroke. While tied up, I check on my right leg and it felt strong. The right side of my face felt strong too, so I figured it wasn’t a stroke. Then I thought perhaps I was dizzy and uncoordinated from taking a blow and canceled that out as I felt myself able to think clearly. I pushed off with my right arm lifeless by my side, kept my left glove up against my left cheek and started moving around to buy time since I needed to think.”

“My thoughts went as follows in a matter of a few seconds while I was bouncing around: I am so scared I have no idea what has happened to me, I need to call the referee over, take a knee and tell him what happened. I can’t believe this has happened and I don’t know why I can’t move my fingertips. I can’t believe this is happening. He is going to jump on me and pummel me because I cannot defend myself. I will explain to the media what happened in post interviews, but nobody will care.”

Melson then received internal motivation.

“Christan came smashing into my mind and I could see her forcing herself to walk with her face in pain, then West Point popped into my head and I thought I am a damn West Point Graduate and Army Captain, I have one hand, he still has to beat me!”

Melson stopped bouncing around and settled in front of Ward with his arm dangling and proceeded to fight. When Melson sat down following that round, he told his corner that his arm was dead and he couldn’t move his fingertips, but he’d be ok. His cornermen told him that maybe he’d be able to use it the next round, but that next round never came.

“I remember during the sixth, I was able to raise my right glove to my face. I tried to catch a jab and my right arm at the elbow folded as if it were made of jello and dropped to my side. I figured that it didn’t work yet and I’ve got to figure out something else.”

After his victory, Melson was shocked that notable ringsiders weren’t aware of his injury.

“Professional boxers and fans who watched the fight said they did not notice anything wrong with my right arm and that I was just being lazy or using an unusual strategy. Most ringside reports all said I faded after the second round, my opponent came back strong, in the SIXTH round it appeared I hurt my right shoulder and the last fight at the Roseland was a let down.”

“The few fans that quickly noticed it were personal friends who were medical clinicians. Respected boxing writer Thomas Hauser spoke to me a week later and when I shared the details of the injury with him, he said he knew right away what happened and was amazed nobody else recognized that I was hurt. After I left the ring, I told one reporter what happened. He admitted he missed the injury, but the fact that I fought through it is a testament to my character. He went on to say I never panicked or gave signs that would make others realize something bad had happened.”

Regardless of what others said, Melson’s satisfied with his performance under the circumstances.

“I am extremely proud of how I responded to what life threw at me. It is sad and ironic to me that the last fight at Roseland was reported as me performing poorly instead of a boxer who fights to cure paralysis having one of his limbs become paralyzed in the fight and still finds a way to win.”

Sadly, Melson is suffering from terrible neuropathic (nerve) pain three weeks after his gutsy victory.

“I am in pain every day all day since this happened. It’s deep in my arm and it tingles regularly. Different parts of my arm down to my fingertips feel funny to the touch as if they are waking up from being asleep with pins and needles. I saw multiple doctors and they all said to be patient as it could be worse and fortunately for me, it will fully heal in time.”

Melson will be out of the gym until further notice.