By Ricardo Ibarra
It’s been over twelve years since a pro boxing event has taken place in Portland, Oregon, but this Saturday former IBF Jr. lightweight world champion Steve “2 Pound” Forbes does his part to rekindle interest in the sport in his hometown, organizing the first of what is expected to be an ongoing series in the once busy fight town. Working under the promotional banner of 2 Pound Sports and Entertainment, Forbes and partner Christina Lunzman will stage a nine-bout pro-am card at the Jackson Armory, focused on showcasing regional professional and amateur fighters.
Topping the card will be Pacific Northwest cruiserweight prospect Marquice “Tree” Weston (11-1-1, 6 KOs) squaring off with Ohio’s Armando Ancona (8-6-2, 5 KOs) in a scheduled six round match-up. Originally, Weston was set to face Missouri’s Gary Tapusoa but after Tapusoa pulled out in early November, Ancona stepped up to fill the slot.
Weston is hoping to close out what has been a busy and productive year on a high note, having already scored four consecutive wins over the past ten months. The twenty-seven-year-old Tacoma, Washington fighter started 2017 with an impressive fourth round stoppage win over Jesse West in February, rebounding from a decision defeat in December to Montez Brown in Virginia, the first and only loss of his career. He followed that up with third a round TKO victory over Carlos Villanueva in June, a vicious first round knockout of Juan Reyna in September, and an October decision win over Stephen Lyons.
Ancona, of Columbus, Ohio, has been a pro for over nine years, participating in sixteen fights over that span. Coincidently, he faced his most notable opponent in the state of Oregon last year, dropping an eight round unanimous decision to unbeaten 200-pound prospect Mike Wilson. He’ll be looking to shake off a years’ worth of ring rust, having last fought in November of 2016 when he lost to Michael Glasscox by decision.
The two will meet at an agreed upon weight slightly over the cruiserweight limit.
“I think it’s a good match-up,” said Forbes of the main event. “Marquice is going to have to work for this one. But I believe he wants those challenges. He wants to keep pushing himself and keep getting better. You’ve got to love a fighter like that. He’s a skilled guy, from what I’ve seen. He trains in Tacoma and I used to box for Tacoma. Those Tacoma guys, Tom Mustin and all those guys, they teach these fighters well. They’ve got a lot of skill and a lot of ability, so I know Marquice can fight…and Ancona went the distance with Mike (Wilson) and gave him a good fight. This should be a good one.”
Four additional fights will round out the remainder of the professional portion of the card. In the light heavyweight co-main event, Detroit, Michigan’s James Ballard (9-0, 3 KOs) will take on Britton Norwood (4-1-1, 3 KOs), of Brandon, Mississippi, in a six round bout. The undefeated Ballard, a sharp former Detroit Golden Gloves champ, last fought in June, claiming a unanimous decision win over Rayco Saunders. Norwood, meanwhile, is coming off a fourth round TKO win over Omar Nunez in Mexico this past August.
Quick-fisted former Tacoma amateur stand-out Nicholas Jefferson (2-0, 2 KOs) will look to add a third consecutive knockout win to his unblemished ledger in a four round welterweight bout, squaring off with Jesse Barich (0-3), of Port Orchard, Washington. Jefferson last fought in late October, scoring a third round TKO victory over Ramel Snegur. Barich put up a game effort against Jorge Linares in his last fight this past September, dropping him in the first round of an exciting back and forth battle before getting stopped in the second.
Portland’ Oscar Hernandez (1-1-1) will make his return to the ring after a three-year long hiatus, taking on Marco Russell (1-1-2), of Henderson, Nevada. In Hernandez’ last outing the local fought to a four round majority draw against Ron Pryce in September of 2014. Russell is also looking to break a stretch of inactivity, though only a year and half’s worth. His last fight was in June of 2016, a four round draw against Jamykle Wade.
And finally, Oscar Herrera, of Portland, and Northern California’s Shawn Harwood will make their professional debuts against each other, facing off in a four round Jr. middleweight contest.
A sixth fight between Chance Gabriel and Felipe Medina (0-2) was cancelled after Gabriel suffered an injury. Four amateur fights will make up the rest of the show.
“We’ve got some great fights on the card,” said co-promoter Lunzman. “I don’t think we have one bad match-up on the show. We have some good fighters that are from around Portland and they haven’t gotten the attention they deserve. We’re trying to change that and this should be a good start. It’s going to be a great show.”
Forbes shared in that sentiment. “The whole card is evenly matched. Each fight is solid. I think that people will see that there are some talented boxers in the Northwest that want a chance to be on that big stage. I’m excited about it.”
In addition to doing what they can to bring boxing back to area, Forbes and Lunzman have been doing a lot of work to help the local community. Towards that end, they’re asking people that attend the show to donate unperishable food items to help the needy during the holidays.
“We have a big heart for helping people,” said Forbes. “We would really like it if people coming out to the fights would bring a can of food to help people that maybe are having a hard time in life and need a little help. We really try to do what we can to help. That’s what it’s really all about.”
“Come out and enjoy the fights,” said Lunzman. “Enjoy a family friendly event, have a beer, watch a great show, and bring some food to help pay it forward.”
Doors to the Jackson Armory will open at 6 p.m. with the first bell set to ring at 7 p.m. Tickets to the event, titled ‘2 Pound’s Fight Night,’ are available now at www.tickettomato.com. The weigh-ins will take place on Friday at Knockout Taco in Portland at 7 p.m., with hip-hop artists performing after the fighters hit the scales. For more information visit www.2poundsports.com or the 2Pound Sports and Entertainment Facebook page.