Yankee Stadium to host first fight in over 30 years

By Basil Katz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Yankee Stadium will welcome boxing back to the baseball field for the first time in over 30 years when it hosts a world championship bout in June that features an aspiring rabbi, officials said on Friday.

It will mark the first non-baseball event to be held in the $1.5 billion (975 million pound) stadium that opened last year as the new home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees.

The last fight in old Yankee Stadium, built across the street in 1923 and now being demolished, was in 1976 when Muhammad Ali defeated Ken Norton.

Foreman, 29, who emigrated to Israel and now lives in Brooklyn, is an aspiring rabbi who displays extraordinary discipline and focus.

After beating Puerto Rican Daniel Santos in November to become Israel's first world boxing champion, Foreman said he objected to suggestions from trainers to take easy fights.

FOREMAN'S DREAM

"I said no, to be a world champion it's not fighting just easy fights, it's actually fighting another world champion," Foreman told reporters at Yankee Stadium.

The June 5 fight against Foreman will mark Cotto's first with trainer Emanuel Steward, who has trained several top fighters including Thomas Hearns and Wladimir Klitschko.

"We are the owners of our destiny," Cotto said. "I guarantee you we are going to create a great show here."

The Yankee Stadium fight will be the second held in a major new sports stadium this year as Pacquiao beat Ghanaian Joshua Clottey in front of nearly 51,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium, the home of the National Football League Dallas Cowboys.

Officials said they hope to sell at least 30,000 tickets for the fight at Yankee Stadium, which can hold about 52,000.

Cotto is guaranteed $2 million and Foreman $800,000, according to Bob Arum of Top Rank, which represents both fighters.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Frank Pingue)