Tough times two at River Cree

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

They'll be deadly serious once the bell rings.

But at yesterday's final media conference for tomorrow night's Size Matters championship boxing card at the River Cree Resort & Casino, main-eventers Tye (Big Sky) Fields and Nicolai Firtha were in a mirthful mood.

Fields, a southpaw who stands six-foot-eight and weighs 265 pounds, and Firtha, six-foot-five and 250, are squaring off in a 12-rounder for the World Boxing Council's vacant Native American heavyweight title.

With renowned UFC referee Big John McCarthy the third man in the ring, there won't be a lot of room to dance.

"It'll be a real tight squeeze," quipped Fields, who relocated to Edmonton from Las Vegas four months ago.

Countered Firtha, who hails from Akron, Ohio: "I was gonna bring my camouflage stuff ... but I couldn't find it. That's why I'm wearing a suit."

Peter McKinn, the WBC's Arizona-based championship supervisor, was also on hand, and confirmed that tomorrow's winner will be ranked high enough by the sanctioning body to be considered for a title shot against world champion Vitali Klitschko.

"I'm excited about this fight for a lot of reasons ," said Fields (41-2, 37 KOs), who's also promoting the five-bout card.

"Being trained by (two-time Canadian champ) Ken Lakusta has been really great. I was around 290 pounds when I arrived in Edmonton and Kenny's trained me down to 265, which has really improved my speed.

"Plus, this is my first fight under my own promotional company and the first step on my road to a world title shot.

"I'm very grateful that my wife Jennifer has been such a huge help on the promotional side, because it's allowed me to concentrate more on my training.

"All I can promise is that it's going to be a great fight. Neither of us is taking anything for granted. I've got a lot of respect for Nicolai, and we both have a lot riding on this."

Firtha, whose 16-5-1 record includes 7 KOs, isn't reading a lot into their respective records.

"I'm used to being an underdog, to beating guys in their own backyard," he said.

"For me, it's a matter of pride to always be in the best of shape and show up ready to fight and earn my payday. With big guys like me and Tye, anything can happen.

"I'm so sick and tired of seeing guys with big guts huffing and puffing after two rounds. I can promise that's not what the fans are going to see here."

Firtha has a very personal reason for giving his all.

"It's fitting we're fighting the day before Father's Day, because I know how special this would be for my dad," said Firtha.

"He was my trainer and manager until we lost him to cancer a couple of years ago, and I know he'd be thrilled about this fight. I'm dedicating it to him.

"This is a spiritual journey for me."


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