The Royal City Rumble is going to have a distinctly Brantford flavour.
ProForce Promotions is bringing a major professional boxing card to Guelph’s Sleeman Centre on Sept. 15 and two of the bouts on the main card will feature a Brantford fighter.
“We want to get the word out to Brantford about this one,” Black Eye Boxing Club coach Jack Armour said. “We want to get as many fans out as possible because this card is going to be very exciting.”
Brantford’s Craig ‘the War Dog’ Hudson is making his professional boxing debut for the Black Eye club in a heavyweight match.
Hudson has had several amateur bouts with the Black Eye club in the past, but after venturing into the mixed-martial arts world for the past year he is looking forward to getting back into boxing.
“It was my original dream (to be a boxer),” Hudson said. “But I got guided the other way for MMA. I’m looking forward to getting back into it to improve my hands and see where I stand.”
Hudson – pending bloodwork to get his Ontario Boxing Association sanctioning – will make his pro debut against Oshawa’s Frank Rill.
At 6’4” and 270 pounds, Hudson will have the advantage over the 6’3” 245-pound Rill, but Armour said the Oshawa boxer has plenty of experience.
“We haven’t had a heavyweight like (Hudson) for quite some time,” Armour said. “But we found him a pretty good competitor in Rill. He has had something like 20 amateur bouts.”
For his part, Hudson is very glad to be back in the Brantford boxing club’s Webling Street training centre.
“I love this club,” he said. “It’s always been one of my great passions. Bill (Williams) is gone now, but (Armour) has been doing a great job with me and finding me sparring partners.”
Finding someone to take practice punches from the heavy-handed Hudson is not an easy assignment. Armour has taken him to Toronto and Guelph to get some work in on a live target.
“He has great movement and fantastic hand-speed for a heavyweight,” Armour said.
Hudson is keeping up his MMA training as well, with his sixth professional fight on the horizon.
On Oct. 27, Hudson will meet rising Latvian star Misha Cirkunov at Freedom Fight in Sudbury.
Cirkunov is moving up a weight class to take on Hudson.
“Everyone seems to be afraid to fight him at 205 (pounds), so he is stepping up to heavyweight,” Hudson said. “But he picked the wrong dude to face.”
First things first, Hudson believes his MMA experience will transfer well to the boxing ring at the Guelph promotion in a few weeks time.
“They might not realize who I am unless they follow MMA,” Hudson said. “They are going to get a huge surprise. I can bang with the best of them for heavyweights in Canada.”
Hudson isn’t the only Brantford boy on the card, as Johnny ‘The Tank’ Mercante gets a much-anticipated rematch with New Brunswick’s Emil Arsenault.
Former Black Eye coach Bill Williams, who retired to the Maritimes in April, said he was at the May fight between Mercante and Arsenault in Shediac, New Brunswick, that was declared a draw.
“(Mercante) battered him,” Williams said in a telephone interview. “It should have been stopped in the third round because Johnny had him cut above the eye real bad. Even being generous, the rounds were 4-2 for Mercante but they declared it a majority draw.
“This rematch will be a real rock ‘em sock ‘em affair.”
Mercante moved on to a full-time gym in Toronto after Williams left the Black Eye club because he needed full-time training as he climbs the boxing ranks.
But he came up through the Black Eye club and made his professional debut fighting out of Brantford.
“This is a stacked card and will be a great night,” Armour said.
More information on the event is available at www.proforcepromotions.com.
Tickets are available through the Brantford Black Eye Boxing Club at 15 Webling St. on Mondays or Thursdays between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. or on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon.