Local fight fans in for treats

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

They're at the 'bare bones' stage right now, but look for plenty of meat to soon be added to a quartet of pro boxing cards coming to Edmonton over the next couple of months.

And with tomorrow's Floyd Mayweather vs. Juan Manuel Marquez showdown in Las Vegas and the Sept. 26 WBC heavyweight title bout between Vitali Klitschko and Chris Arreolla in L.A. tossed into the mix, there's a whole lot for fight fans to get pumped about.

In chronological order, here's what's happening on the local scene:

Saturday, Oct. 10: Sheldon Hinton and Garry (Mad Dog) Stevenson of Straight To The Top Promotions have booked the cozy confines of Hawrelak Park's band shell for the city's first outdoor card in more than half a century.

Hinton will headline the afternoon show against an opponent to be announced next week, while the undercard will feature the pro debut of 2008 Canadian Olympian Adam Trupish along with local crowd favourites Omar (The Mexicutioner) Valdez, Arash Usmanee and Calgary's Steve Claggett.

Hinton suffered a training injury that wiped out a scheduled fight with world-ranked Monte Barrett last month at Telus Field, but during a break from training at the Beverly Bronx Gym yesterday, Canada's No. 6-ranked heavyweight confirmed that Barrett is "still on our radar.

"Barrett couldn't commit to an October date after the postponement, but we're definitely going to reload and line him up for the very near future," Hinton said. "In the meantime, we want to give Edmonton shows to be proud of -- and fighting in Hawrelak Park is a cool way to kick it off. We're calling it 'OktoberFightfest' ... a full afternoon of boxing, food and music ... a real festive atmosphere."

Friday, Oct. 30: As a special attraction to complement headliner Tye Fields on Big Bang Promotions' Malice at The Palace card at the southside Palace Banquet Centre, promoter Ken Lakusta is staging the first in a series of bouts that will culminate in crowning the heavyweight champion of North American football.

Lakusta is still trying to find an opponent for Fields, the six-foot-eight, 270-pound slugger who relocated to Edmonton from Las Vegas earlier this year. Lining up the pigskin pugilists has been somewhat easier.

"The first fight in the series will have hometown boy and former Eskimos offensive lineman Glenn Kulka going up against ex-B.C. Lion Paul Cheng," Lakusta said last night. "Glenn is a five-sport pro athlete who wants to add pro boxing to his resume, and Paul is already 2-0 in the ring, with two first-round KOs.

"That's a recipe for action: two big guys slugging it out for bragging rights to carry over into the next one. Once word gets around, I think we'll have a bunch of past and present CFL and NFL players wanting to get in on it."

Saturday, Oct. 31: Straight To The Top has tentatively scheduled another local card for Halloween night, but Hinton and Stevenson are keeping tight-lipped about the venue and lineup, except to say that Trupish, Valdez and Usmanee will all likely be in the mix.

Friday, Nov. 13: KO Boxing gets back on the championship track with Canadian cruiserweight titleholder Frank White (7-2, 5 KOs) of Sarnia, Ont., defending his crown in a rematch with the guy he won it from, Saskatoon's Ryan Henney (13-3, 8 KOs).

"This could end up being the fight of the year in Canada," says KO frontman Glen Carriere. "Henney won their first fight by TKO in 2007, then White won a decision to take the title in their rematch last year. These guys know each other's style so well, and they're both big bangers who only know one way to fight -- all out. It should be a war."

QUICK JABS: Call me crazy, but I've got a hunch that 3-1 underdog Marquez will score an upset over Mayweather tomorrow night in Sin City. Even though he's moving up from 135 pounds to the welterweight catch-weight of 144, the Mexican banger (49-4, 36 KOs) has always been a dangerous counterpuncher against opponents who are vulnerable on the inside -- and the cocky Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs) fits that description. If he can survive Pretty Boy's early accuracy and wear him down with overhand rights, look for Marquez to win by late stoppage ... Former NHLer Nathan Perrott, who played 89 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars before winding up his hockey career in Russia last season, won his heavyweight debut in Philadelphia last week, stopping trialhorse Makidi Tima in four rounds.

MURRAY.GREIG@SUNMEDIA.CA


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