The New England Revolution are all about doubleheaders these days.
Sunday's Eastern Conference matchup against the Montreal Impact will be followed up by a three-bout boxing card in the stadium, headlined by an eight-round battle between Framingham native "Irish" Danny O'Connor and Eddie Soto of Pawtucket. The event will mark the first time ever a boxing match has been held at Gillette Stadium.
"We're excited to host the first-ever professional boxing match at Gillette Stadium and even more excited to have proud Revs fan and Framingham's own Danny O'Connor headlining the card," said Revolution President Brian Bilello. "This will be a unique event that will add value for our fans. We think we'll convert some boxing fans to Revolution soccer and vice versa."
The open-air match is going to be a pretty unique event, although the timing is a little odd. The Revs match will end sometime around 9 PM, meaning that the undercard figures to begin no earlier than 9:15 PM. On a Sunday night, all the way out in Foxboro, holding an event that late is an interesting move to say the least.
Then again, perhaps not. While it's traditionally been difficult to get Revolution fans to show up in numbers for matches not played on a Saturday night, this is a boxing match, not a soccer game. The hope is that fight fans and soccer fans alike will come out to watch both events. Cross-promotion is something that both Revolution executives and the fighters are excited about.
"I think it's great to be able to do a cross-promotion," said O'Connor during Saturday's match against Kansas City. "I think a lot of the fans that come to soccer are fight fans and vice versa, so I'm excited."
O'Connor is 17-1 as a professional. Previously, he was a two-time national amateur champion and was an alternate for the 2008 USA Olympic boxing team. Recently, he took on Dropkick Murphys frontman Ken Casey as his manager, and has been working hard to build a local fanbase. In May, he sold out a fight at the House of Blues in Boston.
Eddie Soto is a bit more of an unknown quantity (which is to say, the Revolution have not released much information about him). According to Boxrec.com, Soto is 36 years old and sports a respectable 12-4 record with 4 KOs. If that website is also to be believed (or read correctly), he hasn't won a decision since taking down Darrell Martin by unanimous decision at Twin River Casino in July of 2009.
The two fighters are familiar with each other, however, having trained in the same gym.
"I've got nothing to say about Danny O'Connor, I know he's a great fighter," said Soto. "He's going come to fight."
O'Connor expressed similar sentiments.
"He's a tough kid, man," said O'Connor. "I know he's a tough kid, he's going to come to fight."
This came straight out of left field as a promotion opportunity. Friendlies like the one played last weekend between Milan and Olimpia are expected, but a three-fight boxing card to follow a Revolution match is unprecedented.
Despite the slightly tacky, marketing-department feel to the event, there is some real history to be made here, and that wasn't lost on either fighter.
"I'm just real excited to be part of the first boxing match ever in Gillette history," said O'Connor. "Regardless of what happens, when my son's grown up I can tell him that. It's a special thing."
Also attached for your perusal is a video of Danny O'Connor being interviewed on NESN, wearing a Midnight Riders scarf and a Rebellion t-shirt.