The Port Theatre will raise the curtain for some good, old-fashioned fisticuffs.
A six-bout professional boxing card will be held at the downtown venue July 18 and promoter Terry Strawson is billing it as the biggest boxing card in Nanaimo in two decades.
The main event is a light heavyweight bout pitting Mark (Machine Gun) Woolnough, a former Canadian champion from Qualicum Beach, against Billy Bailey of Bakersfield, Calif.
Two of Woolnough’s training partners from Parksville, heavyweight (Shotgun) Shane Andreesen and super middleweight Aubrey (Bam Bam) Morrow, are also on the card.
“We’re like a family, it’s great,” said Andreesen. “Something I’ve always wanted to do was fight on the undercard with Mark on it.”
Morrow said the friends are looking forward to fighting at the same event.
“Being on the same card with them is pretty cool and the training has been great with all of us…” he said. “We feed off one another so we push each other through the tough times.”
Strawson said Rich LeStage, who trains the three Parksville fighters, asked for tough bouts for all his guys.
“As a promoter that makes it better for me and makes it better for the viewer,” said Strawson. “You don’t have to have, necessarily, a guy 10-0 or 15-0. We’ve got some guys who are evenly matched and they’re going to come lay it all on the line.”
Woolnough (19-6-1) has had a bit of a layoff since a controversial split-decision loss in a junior U.S. title bout “broke his heart,” said Strawson.
“With this opportunity, being basically in our hometown, it’s too hard to pass up for him,” the promoter said.
Bailey (12-18) is expected to pose a challenge.
“He’s what we call a journeyman, but he’s extremely tough and he’s never really in a bad fight,” Strawson said.
Morrow (5-1-2) will face the more experienced Johah Arbuckle (9-3), Canada’s ninth-ranked middleweight, in a catchweight bout.
“[Aubrey’s] one of those live-wire type of guys, he’s just exciting to watch,” said Strawson.
The Nanaimo promoter is excited to bring boxing to the city, as he’s a longtime fan and supporter of the Parksville pugilists.
“Anytime someone from the Island wants to do something that’s remotely cool, generally you have to go to Vancouver,” Strawson said. “We travel an awful lot to go watch fights and go to support these guys. It will be nice to bring it here.”
The Port Theatre is a perfect place to watch fights, he said.
“That builds a little intrigue straight off the bat because it’s such a quality venue and people aren’t used to it in relation to boxing,” Strawson said. “If you pay more, you get more involved and you hear more sound, you may see a bit of sweat and blood flying and stuff, but even when you’re in the balcony at the very back you can see everything perfectly and appreciate everything just as well.”
The pro boxing card will be held July 18 at the Port Theatre. Tickets cost $46 to $111 and are available at www.porttheatre.com or by calling the box office at 250-754-8550.
For more boxing coverage, please visit www.pqbnews.com/sports.
-with files from Tyson Taylor