Dan Baxter fights the same way he played football – as though he’s been shot out of a cannon. Full force. Off-the-charts intensity on the field of battle.
He isn’t one to wait patiently, perhaps, which is one of the reasons things didn’t work out with the V.I. Raiders.
“I was riding the bench for a bit, then I was playing, then I was riding the bench, then I was playing,” said the former defensive lineman.
So this past fall he quit football and decided to pursue his passion for fighting.
“I started working, training full time, dedicated my whole life to this, really,” Baxter said.
On Saturday (March 12) in Ladysmith, he will face Victoria’s Bikram Gill in an amateur heavyweight bout at a World Kickboxing Network event.
It will be the first in-ring action in two years for Baxter, who had one mixed martial arts fight at a toughman show in Nanaimo back when he was just 17 years old.
“He was young and excited,” recalled Don Arnott, Baxter’s trainer at Tomari Martial Arts.
At the sound of the ring bell that night, Baxter burst out of his corner toward his opponent and got clocked, suffering a one-punch knockout.
“It’s definitely in the back of my head. You’ve got to remember that,” Baxter said. “But I’m looking good, I’ve trained hard and things should work out for me.”
There’s really no comparison, said Arnott, between the youngster who sprinted headfirst into his first fight and the one who will step into the ring this weekend for his second.
“He’s made huge improvements. That was two years ago,” said Arnott. “He’s been training really hard. He’s been training a little bit of everything in martial arts.”
Baxter thinks he knows now how to avoid those knockout blows.
“I’ve definitely worked a lot on my defence, countering, slipping, keeping my hands up,” he said.
And when he gets the chance to go on the offensive, he’ll take it.
“I’m going to be cutting off the ring, pound the body, wait for him to drop his hands, kick him in the head…” he said. “I’ve got power in both hands, both feet.”
Baxter, 205 pounds, is expecting his opponent Gill to have as much as a 45-pound weight advantage, but the Nanaimo fighter is hoping to have the edge in quickness.
Certainly Baxter will have that explosiveness he’s always had. But this Saturday, when that bell rings and he’s shot out of the cannon, he’ll also have the fight game to back it up.
“I’m going to show everyone what I’m all about,” he said.
FIGHT FACTS … Saturday’s World Kickboxing Network card iis Saturday (March 12) at 7 p.m. at the Stz’uminus First Nation Comm-unity Centre at Ladysmith’s Shell Beach. The main event features Gabriel Varga against Yohan Ha Van for the WKN World Super Lightweight Championship, plus another 8-9 bouts. For tickets, $45-75, phone 250-751-3657.