FIGHT NIGHT: Boxing promoter Dmitriy Salita shown during a press conference at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit ahead of Claressa Shields’ 2023 bout at the venue. (Terrell Groggins/Getty Images) 

Boxing event is first of a series produced by Salita Promotions

The first “Big Time Boxing USA” event takes place Feb. 20 at the Wayne State Fieldhouse in Detroit, home to the G-League Motor City Cruise, headlined by a Michigan showdown between Ardreal Holmes Jr. and Marlon Harrington with a USBA Super Welterweight belt on the line.

The event is the first of a series of boxing matches produced by promoter Salita Promotions, streaming live on DAZN and looking to build the sport in Motown back to its boxing glory days.

“It’s been my initiative to rebuild boxing in Detroit because all the ingredients are here, the only thing that’s missing is an organized promotional entity,” said Dmitriy Salita, who splits time between New York and Detroit and who in June co-promoted the first boxing event at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit featuring Michigan native and top women’s boxer Claressa Shields.

“We are looking forward to working with Salita Promotions once again,” said Alfie Sharman, vice president of DAZN. “With Dmitriy’s exciting stable, coupled with our best in class production and knowledge of the sport, we feel that together we can create something very special with these shows.”

Tickets are on sale now.

More Big Time USA events are in the works in the city, which could take place at Wayne State Fieldhouse, Little Caesars Arena or other venues, with a focus on developing talent and hard-ticket sales rather than casinos, which Salita says will help serve and develop true boxing fans. He says Wayne State Fieldhouse, a $25 million facility that opened in 2021, will produce a first-class environment for boxing, with a 3,000-seat configuration.

“There’s a lot of local talent that has worldwide capabilities,” Salita says of the city’s boxing scene, which includes the renowned Kronk gym that has produced top talent. “I believe that in the next year Detroit is going to be one of the hubs of professional boxing in the United States and the world.”

Wayne State Fieldhouse in Detroit, shown during a WSU basketball event. (

While Salita’s Big Time Boxing USA series has a decided hometown flair, the professional boxing scene has seen some of the biggest events in the last couple of years take place in Saudi Arabia. The Middle Eastern country has invested billions into the world of sports since 2021, seeing super-sized contracts for superstars like soccer’s Christiano Ronaldo and top ranked golfer Jon Rahm joining Saudi leagues or teams. French soccer superstar Kylian Mbappe recently turned down a world-record bid reportedly worth more than $325 million.

While detractors can complain about their favorite players being poached by fledgling foreign teams — not to mention those who criticize that the country is “sportswashing” a history of human rights violations as it attempts to move away from oil dependence — Salita says the impact on boxing has been positive.

“What Saudi Arabia has done through their Riyadh Season initiative is enable different promoters that would not normally work together to work together and to make it the biggest and the best fights and drive the sport forward,” said Salita, whose stable includes heavyweight fighters Otto Wallin and Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, both of whom fought during “The Day Of Reckoning” at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh on Dec. 23. That fight was headlined by UK heavyweight superstar Anthony Joshua, with a purse reported to be well into the tens of millions of dollars. It’s just one of many major boxing events planned as part of the state-funded Riyadh Season initiative.

“Generally speaking, competition is a good thing, and it’s great for fighters to have an outlet to challenge themselves and fight the best (opponent) and make a significant amount of money for that,” Salita said.

He says Saudi Arabia is not taking fights away from the U.S. — rather, the fights weren’t happening at all.

“The boxing industry in the United States has to rebuild itself,” he said. “It’s in a challenged place that it hasn’t seen for a long, long time, possibly ever, because the major broadcasters that have been in boxing for 30-plus years have exited the business.” He’s referring to HBO and Showtime, former stalwart pay-per-view boxing platforms that have left the sport in recent years.

Salita wants to use the momentum built from high-profile fights happening in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere — the UK and Mexico are other strong boxing markets — to help build the sport back in the U.S.

The biggest fight for him currently, however, may still be abroad.

“In my opinion, in all of sports, the biggest event that can happen is for Claressa Shields to fight in the Middle East,” he said. “It may be Saudi Arabia, maybe it’s Dubai, maybe it’s somewhere else. She’s beaten everybody there is to beat and shown her in-ring greatness. But to go to the Middle East in this changing atmosphere of women empowerment and women’s sports, the messaging of that would be absolutely incredible. As big or maybe even bigger than the Rumble in the Jungle.”

Madison Square Garden wouldn’t be bad either, he says.