The festivities began Saturday afternoon, at a formal press conference for select media, held inside a staged boxing ring and moderated by longtime boxing broadcaster Bob Sheridan and Jose Sulaiman, during which each boxer was presented with his personal watch by Guadalupe. Sulamain and Guadalupe then spoke about the inauguration of the WBC pension fund and took questions from the audience. Each fighter, sporting his new King Power timepiece, addressed the crowd and thanked the WBC and Hublot for their efforts on behalf of their needier constituents. (Biver, who was instrumental in the project, was ill and unable to attend the event.)
That evening, after red-carpet arrivals of the boxing champs and other VIPs in attendance — which included boxer Evander Holyfield, legendary promoter Don King, musician and reality-TV star Flavor Flav and NFL player Jeremy Shockey — 300 guests were treated to a cocktail reception with a Hublot-sponsored bar and then seated for the formal dinner and auction. And who better to host such an event than the voice of boxing, Michael “Let’s get ready to rumble” Buffer? The world-famous ring announcer led the live auction, held in cooperation with the international auction house Bonhams. Malcolm Barber, CEO of Bonhams, joined Buffer on stage and used his own auctioneering expertise to build excitement and sale prices for the 12 timepieces. Each winning bidder had the unforgettable experience of receiving their new watch personally from the boxer whose name it carries. By the end of the evening, more than $1 million had been raised for the WBC’s retired boxer’s pension and emergency fund. (Sugar Ray Leonard’s watch went for an astounding $140,000.)
Jose Sulaiman summed up the significance of the event in his opening remarks. “Today is the happiest day of my life,” he said. “To have the 12 greatest living champions of all time together here with us, and to know that they care for other boxers who came to the end of their life without even a piece of bread… I congratulate Hublot for joining the WBC to start for the first time in the history of boxing a pension plan for those boxers of a certain age all over the world who are suffering in poverty. Boxing cannot forget them.”
Guadalupe told WatchTime that Hublot wanted to begin its boxing initiative with “something limited” that would provide funds for charity (there were actually 24 watches in total; each boxer received his own model to keep, without the personalized signature engraving on the casebacks of the 12 auction models), but indicated that it was possible that at some point, Hublot would release another limited-edition version of the watch that would be available to the public. Click below to see a slideshow of images from the gala event.