'That's a whole lot of beef'

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

There wasn't much in the way of traditional "sizing up" between Tye Fields and Nicolai Firtha yesterday.

"I know Alberta is ranching country, but I don't want to hear anybody yell 'Where's the beef?' on June 20, 'cuz it's going to be in the middle of the ring," the six-foot-five, 250-pound Firtha joked at the media conference to announce the Rumble at River Cree.

"This is the first time in a long time that I'm the little guy," added Firtha, a personable puncher from Akron, Ohio, who owns a respectable record of 16-5-1, with seven knockouts.

"When I look over at Tye, I almost feel small - but when we get in the ring, that's gonna be a whole lot of beef. And don't blink, 'cuz there's going to be some fireworks."

Fields and Firtha will square off in a 12-rounder for the World Boxing Council's vacant Native American heavyweight championship in the headliner on the six-bout card.

Fields - all six-foot-eight, 280 pounds of him - recently relocated to Edmonton from Las Vegas, bringing a formidable record of 41-2 (37 KOs).

In addition to headlining, the former USBA champ is making his debut as a promoter.

"I'm extremely proud to be fighting for this belt and to be launching Big Sky Promotions with what we think will be a new era in pro boxing in the City of Champions," said Fields, a southpaw originally from Missoula, Mont.

"We're determined to give Edmonton fight fans something new and different - and that starts with making this title fight very competitive.

"I'm not taking anything for granted with Nicolai. I may have the edge in experience, but any time you get two big guys throwing bombs, anything can happen."

Both men are ranked in the world's Top 50, with Fields holding down the No. 18 spot among 450 rated American heavyweights and Firtha at No. 45.

"I'm just grateful for the opportunity," said Firtha, who delights in being the consummate road warrior.

"For me, it's a matter of pride to always be in the best of shape and to show up ready to fight and earn my payday.

"I just get so sick and tired of seeing guys with big guts huffing and puffing after two rounds.

"They look like pigs, all sloppy and jiggling around the ring. That's what's giving the heavyweights a bad name.

"If people are going to shell out their hard-earned money to buy tickets in these tough economic times, the very least they should expect is for the fighters to be in shape."

Like Fields, who played pro basketball in Europe before joining the punch-for-pay ranks, Firtha is a multi-sport athlete.

"Baseball, basketball, water polo, tennis ... you name it, I play it," he said.

"It's very rare to see two big heavyweights who are also great all-around athletes. And on June 20 I plan to show that athleticism can be a big equalizer in the ring, too.

"Like I said, it's a matter of personal pride. My dad drilled that into me. He was my trainer and manager until we lost him to cancer two years ago, and I know how special this fight would be for him.

"I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to fight for a WBC title in Edmonton.

"This will be a spiritual journey for me."


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