Toledo boxing fans will have an opportunity to cheer on five of their own professional fighters at the Sports Arena on April 16.
Former United States Olympic boxing team captain Devin Vargas has spearheaded the production of the event called "Defendin' Our Home at the Riverdome." Vargas will fight in his second pro bout as part of the five-card event which is headlined by his brother, Dallas.
Devin, a Toledo native who lost in the Olympic heavyweight quarterfinals last summer, has created an organization called Devastatin' Promotions that has raised about $20,000 to produce the locally flavored pro boxing show.
"Toledo is the only place where you'll find the people to help you do this," Devin said. "I'm excited. All of this has come from some notes on a piece of paper."
Four of the five boxers fought in a similar event at the Sports Arena last November.
Dallas Vargas, a 1995 graduate of Waite High School, will fight in the main event. He is 18-2 with 13 knockouts. He is the reigning Ohio State Athletic Commission light-heavyweight champion, but his title will not be on the line.
"The City of Toledo deserves a quick knockout and I'm going to give them one," he said.
Former University of Toledo offensive tackle Dan Whetzel (4-3-1), who is Devin's sparing partner, will fight in a heavyweight bout. Whetzel, who was an all-MAC player for UT in 1994 and 1995, was an all-state wrestler and football player at Gibsonburg.
"Toledo has the best crowd I've ever fought in front of," said Whetzel, who knocked out his opponent last November.
Dennis Draper, a Scott High graduate, will be making his pro debut in the super- middleweight class. Woodward alum Martin Tucker (1-1 at 140 pounds) will be making his second appearance in front of the home crowd after he KO'd his opponent here last November.
All of the fighters train at the Glass City Boxing Gym in North Toledo.
Opponents have not been announced and will be named after they are signed to official contracts, according to Devastatin' Production officials.
Tickets are $20, $25 and $30 and can be ordered through Ticketmaster or at the Sports Arena box office. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.
Devin said the event was the brainchild of a simple meeting between himself and a friend, Salvidor Ruiz. He credited longtime supporters Jolee Yanez and Kelly Florez with raising the money through fundraisers and donations to put on the event. Budweiser is the main sponsor.
Devin, who has had trouble attracting a major promoter, envisions hosting boxing events in Toledo every four to six months. He said plans are already in the works for another show to be held in July.
"I just want to keep fighting," Devin said. "You can't pout forever.''