Rayne's Mason Menard, Lafayette's Jarred LeBlanc headline Saturday's Rumble on the River
RAYNE – Rising star Mason Menard has been in big fights before.
The Rayne native, who is 14-1 with 12 knockouts, has won a fourth-round knockout victory over Thomas Dardar in early 2010 for the USA Louisiana State Lightweight title and also owns a seventh-round TKO victory over Robbie Cannon for the UBO All-Americas title eight months ago.
But Saturday’s fight could prove to be Menard’s biggest one yet.
The hard-punching lightweight will take on Kenya native Anthony Napunyi in his first UBO title defense and a victory could lead to UBO world title shot.
The fight will be a co-main event on the Rumble on the River card at Lafayette’s Hilton and Towers Ballroom. The first fight of the evening is slated for 7:30 p.m.
“The UBO commission will be on hand for the fight and I’ve been haggling with them for months about getting my kids a world title fight,” said Menard’s trainer and Boxncar promoter Chad Broussard. “So, pending the outcome, we could possibly have a shot to fight for a world title right here in Lafayette.”
Menard, who is coming off a seventh-round knockout over Dedrick Bell in Lafayette in December knows what’s at stake.
“It’s in the air and it’s being talked about,” said Menard of a possible world title fight. “I’ve trained really hard for this fight. I have to go in there and impress everybody, put on a good show and come out victorious so I can get my shot at my first world title.”
Napunyi (14-9, 7) plans to spoil Menard’s hopes. But in order to do so, he must do something he hasn’t been able to do as of late - stay off the canvas.
Napunyi has been downed six times in his career but also has seven knockout victories to his credit.
“Honestly, I don’t know much about him at all,” said Menard of Napunyi. “I don’t know how tall he is, I don’t know how big he is going to be. But all that really doesn’t matter because I’m preparing myself for 10 rounds of fighting and that’s what it will be if I don’t get him out before then.”
If the fight does happen to go the distance, it will be the first time that Menard has been past the seven-round barrier in his professional career.
“I feel that I’m in great shape,” said Menard. “One sparring session, I sparred 10 rounds, hard. I came with it every round and at the end of the 10 rounds, I felt like I could have went a few more rounds. I’m ready for it.”
Also headlining the event in the second portion of the co-main event will be the much-anticipated return over Jarred “The Lethal Weapon” Leblanc.
LeBlanc (12-1, 8 KOs), who suffered a torn ACL in the first round of his last fight against Juliano Ramos in April of 2010, will take on Jose Felix (10-9, 3 KOs) of Virginia. That fight could also have UBO world title implications.
“Jarred is ready to get back into the ring,” said Broussard. “He’s come a long way and done real well. He’s been exercising his Achilles since he injured it, he stayed in a boot for probably six months. But he’s doing really well and he’s ready to go.”
Lafayette’s Bailey Bobbit (4-0, 2 KOs) will also be in action. He is slated for a four round bout against Arkansas’ Omid “The Sandman” Bahreini (2-5, 5 KOs).
Joining Bobbit will be Lafayette native and former Ragin’ Cajun Boxing amateur Josh Joseph, who will make his professional debut against Texas’ LD Herbert (0-1).
Bobby “The Prodigy” Bryant (9-0, 7 KOs) will be taking on Ohio’s William “Bam Bam” Armstead in a six-round bout and Russian heavyweight Sergey Kovalev (10-0, 10 KOs) will take on Mississippi’s William Pete Johnson.
Six bouts are slated for the evening with a possible seventh fight in the works.
“There’s going to be like 40 rounds of boxing,” said Broussard of the card. “Every time we put on a show, it just gets better and better each time out.
“We really do have a good lineup. I don’t know if you would call this a five-star night, but it’s definitely going to be at least a three- or four-star night.”
Advance tickets are selling for $20 at Cajun Fitness, Reds and Planet Nutrition or online at www.boxncar.com. Ticket prices at the door will be $30.