MMA promoters rave about Vicksburg|[08/27/07]

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 27, 2007

While there were plenty of winners inside the caged arena Saturday night, the biggest winner may have been Vicksburg and its Convention Center.

Elite XC President Gary Shaw said his mixed martial arts series will be making a return visit to Vicksburg in the near future. The five-bout professional Elite XC Challenger Series card was televised live by Showtime Sports, a premium cable network, to a worldwide audience.

A sold out crowd of 2,500 was inside the VCC and their enthusiasm was enough to sell Shaw on making a comeback.

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&#8220This was a good pro card and a great crowd. The people of Vicksburg rocked this place. It was a real live crowd, which is something we look for,” Shaw said.

&#8220I can confidently say we’ll be bringing more cards here in the future. If not in early December, most certainly by early 2008.”

Shaw comes into the mixed arts field after an impressive career as one of boxing’s top promoters. He was a co-promoter of the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson fight in Memphis, which was the biggest grossing pay-per-view fight in history. He has also co-promoted fights between Felix Trinidad and Fernando Vargas; Lewis and current WBC champion Vitali Klitschko; and the Shane Mosley-Winky Wright bout.

The main event Saturday was a rematch of a controversial draw from 2005 between mma pros Charles &#8220Krazy Horse” Bennett and Victor &#8220Joe Boxer” Valenzuela. Valenzuela won the grudge match with a submission knockout in the first round.

The result left Shaw a little disturbed since he personally bailed Bennett out of his problems with law enforcement officials in Florida. The fight with Valenzuela had been scheduled for June 22 in San Jose, Calif., but had to be canceled when Bennett was arrested on a parole violation.

&#8220I was disappointed in Krazy Horse. I thought we’d get more out of him, but you have to be impressed with a guy like Joe Boxer. He came to fight,” Shaw said.

The most impressive winner was Pennsylvania native Jon Murphy, a 6-foot-7 pro, who knocked out David Huckaba 19 seconds into the second round.

&#8220Jon Murphy was spectacular. It was an exciting knockout,” Shaw said.

&#8220I thought (Seth) Kleinbeck did well. He’s a real medical doctor and it’s something we can promote. You noticed he fought a guy who was covered in tattoos while Kleinbeck was clean,” Shaw said of the the former Delta State University graduate who won a second round knockout of Jamie Jara.

Another fighter Shaw was impressed with was Mississippi amateur Wes Shivers, who won a first-round submission in his first mma fight. Shivers was a starting offensive tackle at Mississippi State.

&#8220He’s a big boy. Very physical. He had a great night,” Shaw said.

The VCC also had a great showing, according to Shaw.

&#8220All around, I was very impressed. The arena is perfect. It’s really an ideal size. We had nearly 2,500 people here on a card that was put together on very short notice with very little advance. And talking to Larry Gawronski, they can expand the seating probably by another 1,000.

&#8220A lot of the credit for us coming here, though, should go to the Mississippi Athletic Commissioner John Lewis. He’s the reason we found this place.”

Shaw also had high marks for Vicksburg.

&#8220The city was great. From the desk clerks at the hotel to the waiters at the restaurant. I had one of the best chicken meals I’ve ever had,” said Shaw, who runs his operation from New York City. &#8220This place really knows how to deliver Southern hospitality.”

Mississippi fans attending the show were also thrilled with the Elite XC/Showtime’s production.

&#8220This is something really exciting for Vicksburg,” city resident Tara Pettway said. &#8220Having Showtime here was great.”

Erin Jones of Meridian came to see her husband, Patrick, fight in the night’s first amateur bout. She said the Showtime and Elite XC crew helped make it special.

&#8220This is the third time he’s fought here, but tonight was a real adrenaline rush for him,” Erin Jones said.

&#8220This was really big stuff to have Showtime here,” added Madison Burrell of Byram.