Inclement weather and logistical issues may have caused a change in venues, but Saturday night's "War on the Shore" boxing and kick boxing event went off without a hiccup nonetheless.
Originally scheduled to take place at Dunkirk's Memorial Park, the event, presented by the Southern Tier Martial Arts League, was forced to move to Dunkirk's Elite Combat Sports Academy (ECSA) when heavy wind and rain, coupled with a lack of electricity, forced the move.
"I think the event went well with all things considered," said ECSA owner Dave Harriger. "We had about an hour and a half to totally change gears and get everything switched from Memorial Park to (ECSA). I just made a bunch of phone calls and a bunch of members from my gym (and other gyms in the area) showed up and just made it happen.
OBSERVER Photo by Jeremy Izzio
Malique Carter, right, fights with Ken Pierce at 175 pounds during Saturday’s “War on the Shore”, which was held in Dunkirk, on Saturday.
OBSERVER Photo by Jeremy Izzio
Jeremy Sobilo, right, fights with T.J. Butters during the 'War on the Shore', which was held in Dunkirk, on Saturday. Sobilo won a split decision to improve his record to 8-4.
"It went together super smooth," Harriger added. "We've been a part of a lot of shows and (the other gyms) have been a part of a lot of shows. We all know how things are done so it was nice having a lot of veteran gym members there."
Once the action got underway, the maximum-capacity crowd was treated to a night full of exciting fights, with multiple local fighters displaying their talent.
ECSA's Jeremy Sobilo, Dunkirk; Emily Narraway, Forestville; Malique Carter, Dunkirk; and Chris Pasquale, Fredonia; each culminated a rigorous training camp with hard-fought performances.
Sobilo opened the event with an action-packed, 29-28 majority-decision victory over TJ Butters.
Fighting in his 12th fight, 11-year-old Sobilo looked sharp from the opening bell and used heavy pressure mixed with technical strikes to defeat Butters for the third time in the pair's three meetings.
"There was a little bit of bad blood with Jeremy's fight because he has already fought that kid twice," Harriger said. "So now he has beaten him three times. Jeremy is 11 years old and that was his 12th fight, which improved his record to 8-4 overall. He's doing work."
After winning the opening bout, ECSA dropped its next two contests.
Carter lost a controversial split decision to Ken Pierce in a 175-pound matchup. Carter appeared to control the first two rounds before dropping the third to Pierce, who was the fresher fighter by the fight's end.
When the decision was announced, the hometown crowd audibly groaned at what they felt was the wrong outcome.
"I didn't agree with Malique's decision," Harriger said. "I thought he landed a lot more significant strikes and I thought he out-pointed him too. The guy he fought was very technical and so was Malique. He made the guy miss a lot. I thought Malique won the first two rounds, but he lost the third."
The event's third bout of the evening featured Pasquale versus Max Logan at 175 pounds.
Pasquale got off to a slow start and got behind on the judges' cards before finding his groove and loosening up. By the time he began putting together combinations, it was already too late and Logan came away with a 30-27 majority decision.
"Chris has a little bit of performance anxiety I think. In the gym, he kills all of us," Harriger said. "He is hard to spar, he's long and has good combos. But then in front of crowds, he freezes sometimes. He has all the talent in the world and just needs to learn to put it together in front of people."
Capping the night for ECSA was Narraway, fighting in the event's lone female contest.
A multi-sport athlete during her time at Forestville High School, Narraway used her athleticism and determination to defeat Holly Snyder via split decision in a 135-pound contest.
Narraway battled through an opponent who seemed content to clinch and stall the Hornet's offense en route to the victory.
"Emily listened to exactly what I told her to do every single round," Harriger said. "She executed. She changed levels very well and had her girl completely thrown off. The girl kept holding on to her arm so she did a nice job of punching with her free arm. Of all the fighters, I am honestly the proudest of her. She had the most going on this whole summer and overcame everything."
The event was an opportunity for the local competitors to fight in front of their hometown supporters after having to compete mainly in Buffalo, Batavia and beyond.
With the success of the event, it is likely that more amateur fighting will be hosted in the area and will allow local fight fans to come support the homegrown talent.
"We had a ton of support from the gym and the community," Harriger said. "Everyone stepped up and pitched in to make this a very successful event. I couldn't be happier. It was good publicity for the gym and it showed everyone that we have good talent in this area."