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Published: Wednesday, 11/21/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Fight nights hit Toledo in December

Toledo boxers Douglas, Vargas promote events downtown

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Former world heavyweight boxing champion James "Buster" Douglas, left, bumps fists with Bronco McKart, a super welterweight boxer from Monroe, Mich., during a news conference Tuesday at the Grand Plaza Hotel in Toledo. Former world heavyweight boxing champion James "Buster" Douglas, left, bumps fists with Bronco McKart, a super welterweight boxer from Monroe, Mich., during a news conference Tuesday at the Grand Plaza Hotel in Toledo.
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When speak­ing at the Pur­ga­tory Fight Ser­ies press con­fer­ence Tues­day in Toledo, James “Buster” Douglas had two fi­nal words for a room­ful of me­dia mem­bers.

“Go Bucks,” Douglas said.

No doubt Satur­day’s an­nual Mich­i­gan-Ohio State tilt was on the Co­lum­bus na­tive’s mind, even as Douglas, a for­mer world heavy­weight box­ing cham­pion, ap­peared at the Grand Plaza Ho­tel to help an­nounce a pair of box­ing and mixed mar­tial arts events that are sched­uled to be held next month in Toledo.

An­nounced dur­ing one of the more her­alded weeks for sports in the area — as Douglas noted — the Hun­ting­ton Center will host the Pur­ga­tory Fight Ser­ies 10 at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, while the Grand Plaza will host the Pur­ga­tory Fight Ser­ies All Pro Box­ing event at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21.

“In box­ing, this is where it all starts,” Douglas said. “Be­fore you get to the HBOs and the ESPNs, this is where you hone your skills and pre­pare you for the big show. We need shows like this, and I’m a big-time sup­porter of some­thing like this.”

In 1990, Douglas be­came the first boxer to knock out pre­vi­ously un­de­feated cham­pion Mike Ty­son in To­kyo — a fight in which he was a 42-to-1 un­der­dog.

After liv­ing through a three-day di­a­betic coma in 1994, Douglas over­hauled his life and has be­come an anti-bul­ly­ing ad­vo­cate, as well as the au­thor of “Buster's Back­yard Bar-B-Q,” a cook­book geared to­ward di­a­bet­ics.

And he’s got­ten back in­volved in box­ing, which, as of late, has taken a back­seat to the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of mixed mar­tial arts.

“You have to put in qual­ity work,” Douglas said of box­ing. “We have to bring in guys who have tre­men­dous skills, and you see the art in it, as well.”

But, he said of MMA and box­ing, “they both have a strong pres­ence.”

North­west Ohio has hosted pro-am MMA events since 2010, but the Dec. 7 mixed-mar­tial arts event will be the first pro­fes­sional event hosted in Toledo.

Lukas Nieto, 4, and his brother Zeke Kniffen, 10, get autographs from mixed martial arts fighters including 2004 Olym­pian Devin Var­gas, a Start High School grad­u­ate who is now a pro­fes­sional boxer. Lukas Nieto, 4, and his brother Zeke Kniffen, 10, get autographs from mixed martial arts fighters including 2004 Olym­pian Devin Var­gas, a Start High School grad­u­ate who is now a pro­fes­sional boxer.
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The mixed-mar­tial arts card will fea­ture nine bouts that will in­clude Hec­tor “El Toro” Urbina and An­drew “The Ab­so­lute” Huff­man, and the box­ing card two weeks later will show­case Toledo na­tive and 2004 Olym­pian Devin Var­gas, a Start High School grad­u­ate who is now a pro­fes­sional boxer.

Var­gas said he should know who his op­po­nent is by the end of the week.

Var­gas said he plans to in­ten­sify his train­ing for the bout, start­ing Sun­day.

“I’ve been keep­ing in and out of the gym and not get­ting lazy,” said Var­gas, who cap­tained the United States box­ing team at the 2004 Sum­mer Olym­pics in Athens.

Within min­utes of post­ing the news on his Face­book ac­count, Var­gas said he re­ceived plenty of re­sponses.

“It’s go­ing to be a treat for all my lo­cal fans,” Var­gas said. “They’ve been ask­ing about when I’m go­ing to fight here for the last five years.”

And while Douglas picked Ohio State, Var­gas went in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

“Mich­i­gan,” Var­gas said, with­out hes­i­ta­tion.

Con­tact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@the­blade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twit­ter @RLen­ziBlade.

 



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