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World Championship Boxing Back In Nashville

BY Editor ON February 03, 2006
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Fight Beat Entertainment is proud to present a full night of professional boxing at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Friday, March 31, 2006. Headlining FBE’s inaugural boxing show will be a battle for the vacant IBA World Cruiserweight Championship, between the pride of New Jersey, Bobby Gunn (15-2, 12 KOs) and “The Bonetown Brawler”, South Carolina’s Shelby Gross (16-3, 13 KOs).

The fight represents the first significant world title bout in Nashville in over five years.

Gunn currently holds the WBE Cruiserweight title, which he won in a vacant title fight last June in Nashville. Gross previously held the Intercontinental version of the title.

For Gunn, this will be his fourth consecutive trip to the Volunteer state, including two fights in Nashville last year. The well-traveled cruiserweight has boxed all around the world as an amateur and pro, but holds Music City close to his heart.

“I’m looking forward to returning to Nashville,” said Gunn, who has knocked out his last six opponents. “My two fights there last year introduced to some of the best fight fans in the country.”

Gunn has managed to develop a following in the Mid-South, but may very well be conceding home court advantage from a geographical standpoint. Gross is based out of South Carolina, and is no stranger to Tennessee, having fought in Memphis three times in the last two years (including his past two fights). Overall, this will be Gross’ eighth trip to Tennessee, though his first to Nashville since his days as a regular in the Music City Mix Factory fight series in the late 1990s.

Gross is looking to recreate his own Music City series, as he believes Gunn’s “Road to Glory” will end in Nashville.

“I’m coming to Nashville to win a title,” insists Gross, fresh off a first-round knockout in Memphis this past January. “For me, it’s not about the money, it’s about the title, because the IBA championship is a major world title. I feel that this fight represents a turning point in my career.”

It couldn’t have come at a better time for Gross, who gets a shot at redemption after previously falling short at the top level. While the record shows three losses, what was gained from each loss was learning experience. Gross believes such is the difference between he and Gunn in a fight that is otherwise dead-even on paper and guaranteed to be a scorcher from bell to bell.

“I know that I’m coming to fight, and Bobby always comes to fight,” says Gross. “But what separates us is that I’ve been at the top level, and have been able to learn from my mistakes. I know what I’ve done wrong in the past and have worked hard to get back into the title picture. No disrespect to Bobby, but I don’t think he knows what he’s walking into come March 31.”

While his official resume may not reflect it, Gunn boasts more experience than people believe. Boxing since the age of 7, Gunn is a five-time amateur champion who has shared the ring in sparring sessions with twenty former and present world champions. The list includes Mike McCallum, Michael Nunn and current WBA regular cruiserweight champion Virgil Hill.

Gunn is looking to add to that list, this time on his official ledger. The plan is to parlay a win over Gross into a series of world title bouts against the rest of the division’s best.

“I’m honored to be fighting for the IBA World Cruiserweight Championship. I’m training for twelve hard rounds. My mission is to unify all of the cruiserweight titles – the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO and IBA. While I’m not taking the Shelby Gross fight for granted, I look forward to winning the IBA title and defending that title against (current WBC/WBA/IBF world cruiserweight champ) O’Neil Bell, Jean-Marc Mormeck, Virgil Hill or even giving Antonio Tarver a shot if he’s interested in moving up.”

Before either fighter travels down the cruiserweight title path, they have to travel the Road to Glory… which begins in Nashville on March 31, 2006.

The chief support for the evening will be an eight-round heavyweight contest, with the vacant USBC crown at stake. Ohio heavyweight George Linberger (29-8-1, 25 KOs), fresh off of a win over the “King of the Four-Rounders” Butterbean, takes on Louisiana behemoth, 6’7” Rafael “The Cajun Connection” Pedro (19-5-1, 13 KOs).

A full undercard features promising local talent, including rising junior welterweight Luis Galarza (9-1, 6 KOs, Antioch, TN) and unbeaten lightweight Jerome Pillow (13-0, 10 KOs, Columbia, TN) in separate bouts. Also appearing on the card will be Florida-based junior middleweight prospect Ed Paredes (5-1, 3 KOs). Rounding out the show will be a female attraction, featuring Cleveland (TN)-based newcomer Melinda Woody.

Doors will open at 6:00 PM, with the first bout scheduled for 7:00 PM. Tickets are on sale now and range from $15 for General Admission to $150 for VIP seating, which is already in high demand. They can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, or by contacting Fight Beat Entertainment at (615) 687-6849.

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