If Cam O’Connell had his way he’d schedule all his fights in Red Deer.
That’s impossible, but he will give the local boxing fans a glimpse of his immense talent in the main event of the Tuff Glove card at the Sheraton Hotel Friday.
“I’ll always keep Red Deer as my home base . . . I can’t leave, although I’ll have to travel for different sparring partners and I can’t expect all my fights to be here. But I hope to bring back belts and if I get a chance to win a world title and if I get a chance to defend it where I want I’ll choose Red Deer. It would be great to have a huge super fight here.”
O’Connell takes a professional record of 3-0-1 into the lightweight bout against Mexican Luis Arjona (3-1-1). All four of his previous fights have been on the road in Edmonton and Calgary.
Getting an opportunity to have his fans behind him will be special, says O’Connell, who is already feeling the excitement.
“The anticipation is killing me,” he said. “I know what it’s like in the ring and I know what I have to do and what my opponent will do. Once I’m in the ring it won’t matter if anyone was in the crowd, but I’m excited to see how involved the crowd will be. How revved up they’ll be and what kind of noise we can create.
“That’s part of the game.”
O’Connell prepared for the fight by sparring with world class fighter Urash Usmanee.
“I worked on a couple of things, but mainly we banged it out for eight rounds,” said the 24-year-old O’Connell. “He’s like my big brother and he didn’t take it easy on me. If I can stay in eight rounds with Arash I don’t see a Mexican with a 3-1-1 record as a big threat.”
Still O’Connell knows little about Arjona.
“I know his name, where he’s from and his stance, he’s right handed,” he said. “From what I’ve heard he’s tough and comes to fight. Hopefully that’s true.”
O’Connell had the one blemish on his pro record, battling Lexton Bates to a four-round draw in December of last year. Since then he defeated Ryan Brigham on a first-round TKO in May.
“I have the one blemish. He was a tough opponent and it didn’t get me up in the rankings, but you need tough fights to get anywhere and after watching it on TV I felt I won three of the four rounds. But I’ll take it as a learning experience and won’t let it happen again.”
As for his future there’s been talk about a Canadian title shot or a shot at the WBC Youth championship.
“I hope to follow in Arash’s footsteps,” he said. “I know when promoters talk with him and ask about his sparring partners he mentions my name. My name keeps coming up, which is good.”
O’Connell’s bout is the third of three professional fights on the card, which will also include four or five amateur bouts, The amateur contests begin at 7 p.m. with the first pro bout expected to begin around 8:30 p.m.
Going into a bout at home, gives O’Connell an opportunity to look back at the early portion of his career and his mentor, Rob Carswell with the Red Deer Boxing Club.
“He’s not only been huge in my development as an athlete, but huge in my development as a person,” he said. “A true coach brings out the best in you. Takes you from being just a fighter to being a champion. It’s more than just hoisting the belt, but being able to talk with people, represent yourself and be humble. Rob taught me everything from setting . . . he’s been a huge part of my life.”
O’Connell now works with Doug Bolianatz and Roman Rzepkowski.
“Doug has been a killer for me. Everything I need he puts in the time and Roman has helped me big time. He’s there every day in the club working on what Doug has given me to work on.”
The other two pro bouts sees Lucazs Wierzbicki of Calgary taking on Antonio Dos Santos of Vancouver and American Kenneth Council meeting Ted Reno of Calgary.
Wierzbicki had an amateur record of 106-4 in Poland and is making his pro debut against Dos Santos, 2-5. Council is 3-0 with three knockouts while Reno is at 3-6-2.
The amateur portion of the card is highlighted by a 69-kilogram senior elite boxoff between Red Deer’s Brian Samuel and Devin Reti of Calgary that will determine the provincial champion and earn a berth to the Canadians.
Cole Farwell of Red Deer will clash with Danny Vo of Edmonton in a 60kg youth bout while Red Deer’s Lester Cudillio faces Wolfgang Pederson of Medicine Hat in a 52kg junior C fight.
As well, Robbie Cuisine of Edmonton meets Gwyn Lewis of Calgary in a 65kg senior elite bout while Eric Taylor of Edmonton and Connor Busch of Calgary could clash in a 60kg senior elite bout.
• A portion of the proceeds will go to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer and District Cops for Kids charity . . . Tickets can be purchased by calling 403-877-4391.