The Peninsula is becoming a hot bed for combat sports, specifically boxing. There are a number of cards coming up in the next couple weeks that will feature some of the best fighters San Mateo County has to offer.
In addition, another well-known amateur will be turning pro and is just waiting on a date and an opponent.
Yohan Banks, a heavyweight out of San Mateo’s Westside Boxing Club, will take on 28-1 Travis Kauffman, who has 20 knockouts, in a non-title fight on the undercard of the Austin Trout-Daniel Dawson light middleweight bout on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights series Aug. 22 at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula.
The match is a huge opportunity for the 6-3, 285, 29-year-old Banks, who sports a losing overall record (7-8, 5 KOs), but is coming off back-to-back stoppages against Bomani Parker in July 2013 and Tim Puller last September.
“(Kauffman is a) great opportunity to see where we’re at,” said Pat Ragan, Banks’ trainer and manager, who has been working with him for the last couple years. “(And) a guy like Kauffman needs to face a guy like Yohan.”
Kauffman is ranked No. 16 in the heavyweight division in the United States and Ragan said his promoters are grooming him for big things.
“They’re throwing a lot of money into development for [Kauffman],” Ragan said.
Ragan believes Banks’ heavy hands makes him just dangerous enough that Kauffman will need to tread carefully.
“[Banks is] on the cusp of making some noise,” Ragan said. “He’s extremely powerful. He’s a big, powerful man.”
While Ragan said he only signed the contract Aug. 8, he was fairly certain Banks would get the shot at Kauffman.
“I knew they were kicking the tires (on Banks). I’ve been around long enough to know if they’re (the promoters and match makers) are serious,” Ragan said. “This is a very big promotion (Goossen-Tutor Promotions). … They are believing in [Banks to put on a good show].”
Always known to put on a good show, longtime amateur Casey Morton should know in the next couple of weeks who and where she will make her pro debut. Morton said her transition was put on hold for a while as she looked to put together her team of boxing and strength training coaches. She finally hooked up with Jairo Escobar out of San Francisco World Class Gym and strength coaches Mike Bazzel and Arian Soltero out of Undisputed Gym in San Carlos.
“The missing puzzle piece was (finding a) primary coach,” Morton said. “As an amateur I could train myself. In the pros, you can’t take that leap without a full-time coach. Now that I have one, we can finally get the show on the road.”
Two other local fighters who have already made the transition to the professional ranks will climb back in the ring over the next couple weeks.
Well, one will at least.
“Mighty” Melissa McMorrow (9-4-1, 1 KO), a super flyweight out of B Street Boxing who is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 4 in the world, will once again travel south of the border to Mexico for an Aug. 23 date against Jessica “Kika” Chavez (20-3-3, 4 KOs) for the vacant WBC International female flyweight title.
McMorrow suffered a unanimous decision, 10-round loss to Marina Juarez in February in Puebla, Mexico, snapping a three-fight win streak.
Chavez is the No. 1-ranked flyweight in Mexico and No. 2 in the world. She is undefeated in her last 11 fights, going 10-0-1 over that span.
Meanwhile, McMorrow’s B Street Boxing teammate Ricardo Pinell will appear in the debut promotion of Big Knockout Boxing, which is attempting a new spin on the sweet science.
Pinell will take part of the pay-per-view event in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Casino Saturday night. Pinell (9-1-1, 4 KOs) is coming off a six-round, unanimous decision victory over Jamal Harris last month.
This is not your traditional boxing match, however. Big Knockout Boxing consists of up to seven, two-minute rounds in what they call “The Pit” — a circular — not square — boxing mat without the traditional boxing ropes or corners. The intention is to turn up the offensive heat from both boxers.
In mixed martial arts news, Half Moon Bay lightweight Adam Piccolotti improved to 3-0 as a professional, stopping Eugene Marenya on strikes at the Dragon House 17 event in San Francisco last weekend.
Piccolotti, 25, holds a rank of black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, having won more than 20 BJJ tournament titles. He is the main instructor at Raul Castillo Martial Arts in Half Moon Bay.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You follow him on Twitter@CheckkThissOutt.