Boxing events duke it out in SuperiorThe Night of the Rising Stars professional boxing event on Saturday at Wessman Arena was already in the works when another boxing event in Superior, the Battle by the Bay at Barker’s Island Inn, was announced two weeks ago.
By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune
The Night of the Rising Stars professional boxing event on Saturday at Wessman Arena was already in the works when another boxing event in Superior, the Battle by the Bay at Barker’s Island Inn, was announced two weeks ago.
For the same day.
Superior will find out Saturday if the town is big enough for both of them.
R.J. “T Rex” Laase of Duluth is making his promotional debut with the Night of the Rising Stars and also is fighting on the six-bout pro card, headlined by Duluth middleweight Andy “Kaos” Kolle.
Laase described the late announcement of the Battle by the Bay, on the same day as his event, as a low blow by Duluth’s Jungle Boy Boxing Gym, which is promoting the amateur boxing card at Barker’s Island.
“It’s kind of a slap in the face,” Laase said. “For the sport of boxing, I wish their show the best, but it’s putting a lot of mutual friends and fans in a position where they have to choose. I didn’t. My show was announced first. It’s as simple as that.”
Saturday is the latest development pitting boxers who used to be in the same camp, fighting out of Horton’s Gym in Duluth. Longtime trainer/
promoter Chuck Horton handed the amateur reins over to his former headliner, Zach “Jungle Boy” Walters, and then later retired from boxing altogether. By the time Horton came back out of retirement, Laase said he had already moved on.
“Just because Chuck retired doesn’t mean I was ready to retire,” said Laase, 23. “I want to make a career of this. Zach paved the way for boxing in Duluth, and I’ve learned a lot from Chuck. I learned from his recipe, but it became time to move on and spread my own wings.”
Laase and Walters said they had a personal spat over the Internet that both said wasn’t fit for print.
Walters called the feud “messy on many levels” and added that he felt “let down by his former teammates.” Instead, he wanted to talk about his amateur show, a 10-bout amateur card that features Marcus Morris and Lewis Molina, boxers who advanced to the finals last weekend at the Golden Gloves Region 2 tournament.
The event has a “Say No to Drugs” theme, an issue that Walters struggled with before turning his life around through boxing, and something he tries to instill in his young fighters. Walters said more than 40 people work out at his Duluth gym, each signing “the book” pledging to be drug-free.
“That’s one thing that is very clear in my gym,” Walters said. “Everybody signs it. I’m adamant about that. I believe boxing can be used to make your life better. It can help fix character issues, but you’ve got to leave those issues on the street when you come in here. Boxing can be the thing that helps those kids out.”
Walters said he is waiting until Saturday to announce his first professional boxing card, which he said will take place this summer in Duluth.
Horton said he’s “choosing Team Zach,” clearly questioning the quality of Saturday’s pro fights. Kolle (24-3, 18 KOs) will fight Michael “Midnight Stalker” Walker (19-12-3, 12 KOs), who lost 11 straight bouts before getting a draw just last weekend against Orphius Waite.
“Why Andy would want to fight Walker, at this stage in his career, is a head-scratcher to me,” Horton said.
Both shows begin at 7 p.m. and tickets for each are only $10, an unusually low amount for a pro card in particular. Laase already said he is close to breaking even on presales alone.
The last pro fights in the Twin Ports were in February 2011 at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth.
“I’ve had phone calls from Zimmerman, Minn., to Two Harbors, to Bayfield and Siren, Wis.,” Laase said. “There is a lot of interest in this fight. People have waited a long time for this. I’m bringing boxing back.”