Main event combatants nearly start title fight day early
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
You can cut the anticipation with a knife for tonight’s professional mixed martial arts fight card at the Lockport Kenan Center Arena.
“Road to Glory” main event combatants Amer Abdallah of Lockport and Roert Katzfey of Wisconsin don’t like each other and that was evident moments after both light heavyweights weighed in at Lock 34 on Friday night for tonight’s main event at the Kenan Center Arena.
Abdallah, 13-0, weighed in at 187 pounds for tonight’s defense of his World Kickboxing Association United States Light Heavyweight championship. Katzfey, 10-2 in muay thai fighting and 3-3 in MMA competition, weighed in at 177 pounds.
The two fighters started pushing and shoving, then had to be forcefully separated while posing for post weigh-in photos, adding fuel to the blazing fire started last week when Katzfey sent a video tape to Abdallah criticizing his Lockport gym, staff and abilities in general.
Accompanied by his manager, Jay Ellis, Katzfey is making his first visit to Lockport, weighing in at 177 pounds.
“I don’t know too much about Abdallah, other than he’s got an undefeated record and he’s the champion. He’ll be a tough opponent, but I’m not afraid. I’m going to be inside a lot, brawling,” Katzfey said.
When asked what he thought his chances were tonight, Katzfey said, “One hundred percent. I’ve been fighting my whole life. I started when I was five years old. I started out competing in tough man contests and worked my way up from there. I’m kind of winding down in my career now, training others more. I used to own a gym in Colorado and am hoping to someday start up another one.”
Abdallah, who earned his first WKA top-10 ranking earlier this year, is hoping tonight’s contest precludes a WKA world light heavyweight title shot sometime this fall.
Surrounded by perhaps the largest entourage of the evening was popular Lockport streets department worker Dominic Esposito, 52, who’s making his first return to the ring in about three decades. Looking fit and trim and in the best shape of his life, Esposito, who weighed in at 209 pounds, will fight in the heavyweight division against Steven Wilson of Syracuse in a three-round amateur bout.
“I feel good. I’ve been training hard,” Esposito said. “I’m doing this because I just wanted my family see me be an athlete again. My new wife, Renee, and my stepsons Noah and Kalyn and my daughters Jordan and Justine and sons Johnny and Joey, they’ve never seen me in the ring. It’s my dream to do it just one more time. Thank God I can still do it.”
Among those present to support Esposito were his wife and daughter Jordan, cornermen Corey Webster, Joe Fazzolari and Nicky Fazzolari; Lockport Bowling Hall of Famer Dave Poole, Mike Ficarra, Jimmy Kane; and from Lockport Community Television, retired streets department employee and LCTV colorman Danny Sheehan, along with tonight’s LCTV play-by-play announcer Jim Slowey.
Arriving with his three sons in tow, heavyweight kickboxer Joe Taylor of Lockport weighed in at 202 pounds. Tayor, the star running back of the Lockport Rampage semi-pro football team, will make his amateur heavyweight kickboxing debut tonight against Jay Boyd of Syracuse in a three-round amateur bout.
“I’m feeling good right now and ready to fight. I plan to get plenty of rest and I’ll be ready for tomorrow,” said Taylor, the son of the late Johnny Taylor, a former Lockport professional boxer. “I won’t be playing football for obvious reasons,” he said when asked about the Rampage’s home opener this afternoon against the Buffalo Chargers. “I think the Rampage can take care of things without me for now.”
Others weighing in Friday included Western New York MMA fighters Erin Morris (141 pounds) and Dan Dorfman (149 pounds).
Among the many others present at Friday night’s weigh-in were Corey Webster’s biggest fan, his father Paul, along with Team Abdallah coordinator Liz Bouchard, manager Ahmed Imamovic and strength and conditioning coach Gina Nowak from Abdallah’s Lockport Athletic & Fitness Center, “Road to Glory” sponsor Jeff Folckemer of Local Edge; and world reknown boxing trainer Jeff Mayweather of Las Vegas, the uncle of pro boxing’s biggest name today, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Imamovic served as Master of Ceremonies for Friday night’s weigh-in.
Kenan Arena doors open at 6 p.m. today. The first fight begins at about 7 p.m. Other sponsors for tonight’s fight card include Mulvey Construction (Tim Mulvey), All Metal Works (Dominic Ciliberto), JS Motorsports (Kyle Brent), Executive Landscaping (Tony Butera), Niagara Gutter (Brad Cline) and Cain, Witlin & Dry Accountants (Scott Cain).