A NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOLockport's Joe Taylor, left, has his arms raised at boxing's mecca Madison Square Garden in New York City, after his 2017 victory there, becoming the only Lock City fighter in history to win a professional fight there. Taylor will vie for the United States WKA light heavyweight championship this Saturday night at the Kenan Arena.

LOCKPORT — Lace Up Promotions returns this Saturday to Lockport's historic Kenan Center Arena to promote an unprecedented event featuring five title fights dubbing it, “A Night of Champions.”

The Main Event, featuring hometown hero “The Son of a Legend” Joe Taylor, will be for the World Kickboxing Association United States Light Heavyweight crown.

Lace Up Promotions CEO Amer Abdallah said four of the five title fights will be for promotional titles, with the Taylor versus Johnson bout for the World Kickboxing Association championship. Taylor faces veteran Jay Johnson in a five-round K-1 kickboxing title bout.

“We're proud to continue to build local champions and give them a platform to showcase their commitment to their craft,” said Abdallah, who grew up in Lockport, won a world amateur title then and became the WKA professional Cruiserweight world champion with a win here, defending it as well at the Kenan.

“It’s a blessing to be fighting in Lockport for the United States title,” Taylor said. “My friend and manager, Amer helped make a lot of my dreams come true and I appreciate all the advice and knowledge he has shared with me to get me to this point. I’m also thankful for my coach, Corey Webster, who has trained me over the past six years and all of my family, friends and supporters. I truly appreciate and love them for all of their love and support.”

Although many WNY fans will come for the undercard fights, all eyes will be on the Main Event which has the Lock City buzzing.

“Joe has had a historic run during his professional career and has done things no other Lockport based fighter has been able to accomplish. On Saturday night, he has to maximize this opportunity and add it to his legacy” Abdallah said.

“I’m going to give the fans what they want” Taylor added. “And the fans want a knockout.”

Lockport’s “Warrior Princess" Vanhessa Tankersly, will put her undefeated record on the line as she faces Syracuse-based Olivia Matura in a Junior Lace Up Promotions Title fight. Tankersly, who’s last two performances were knockout victories at the Kenan Arena, trains under Joe Taylor at the Team Taylor Gym downtown.

SPAR Self Defense’s “Iron Spartan” Javier Figueroa, who has worked his way to the No. 1 contender position, will take on Canadian head Muay Thai instructor Kru Rich Kniff for the Lace Up Promotions Muay Thai Title. Figueroa is coming off of a huge win in Syracuse last month.

“I’ve never trained harder for anything in my life as I have for this title fight on Saturday,” Figueroa said.

Five Star Martial Art’s up and coming star, David “Twitch” Firenze will battle Western New York MMA’s Sean Doyle for the Lace Up Promotions Welterweight Title. "Both fighters have faced ups and downs in their careers and I assure you, given the opportunity on June 8, will do everything it takes to win this fight,” Abdallah said.

Buffalo-based Jessie Billinghurst of Matteo’s Malitia will take on heavy-hitting E.J. Johnson of Southtowns MMA for the Lace Up Promotions Middleweight title. Billinghurst and Johnson both only have one loss on their records and have build impressive wins over the past year to land this matchup, Abdallah said.

Tickets for Saturday's fight card are available on-line only at www.LaceUpPromotions.com, or at the door Saturday night.

“A Night of Champions” is sponsored by Mulvey Construction, All Metal Works, Molinaro’s Restaraunt & Executive Landscaping.

Doors will open at 5 p.m., with the opening bell expected at 6 p.m.

Follow veteran US&J sports reporter and editor John D'Onofrio at @JohnD'Onofrio7.

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