Big Lance “Mount Whitaker brings his massiveness in matching skills with Franklin “Yah Yah Lawrence on Saturday.

A downtown Riverside boxing and mixed martial arts card kicks off back-to-back weeks of prizefighting that begin on Saturday Sept. 11 at the Riverside Convention Center and proceeds to Ontario on Sept. 17, then downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 18.

Southern California is booming with prizefights again.

“I have been trying to get approval to hold a card at the Convention Center since the beginning of the year. Riverside is a great fight city, with great fans and great fighters and it is an honor to bring a heavyweight title fight to the city of Riverside. The support from everyone has been amazing, said promoter Craig Zimmerman of MEZ Sports.

Whitaker (35-6-1, 28 KOs) is no stranger to boxing fans. For more than a decade he’s been one of the more recognizable heavyweights and at one time touted as the heir apparent to Mike Tyson. After a three-year absence he returned and is making one more big push to challenge for the world title. With four fights in the span of a year, including an impressive split decision victory over Russia’s Andrey Fedosov in June, Whitaker is determined to give it one more shot and faces Lawrence a very good veteran heavyweight with heavy hands for the vacant IBO International title.

Lawrence (12-2-2, 7 KOs) and Whitaker both lost decisions to former heavyweight world champion Oliver McCall. Now they’re pitted against each other to see who moves forward in the heavyweight rankings.

In a preliminary bout, Perris’s Anthony Villarreal (9-3) tangles with veteran boxer Benji Garcia (14-16-3) who’s known for upsetting a fighter or two if underestimated. The bantamweight bout will be a six round affair. Villarreal is a talented speedy boxer with some pop. Garcia is an unorthodox puncher who fought to a draw with current WBA and WBO junior flyweight world champion Giovanni Segura and lost a split decision. He’s pretty crafty.

Also on the card will be several MMA fights.

Riverside County, in the past 10 years, has become fight central for both boxing and MMA and boasts some of the most active gyms in the country. MEZ Sports, who is promoting the mixed fight card, is capitalizing on Riverside’s growing interest with prizefighting.

All of the MMA fights feature local fighters including Richard Shiller, Yahir Reyes, Lorenz Larkin, Rick Slaton, Saad Awad, Jorge Valdez that all come from the Riverside County area or Inland Empire.

In one feature MMA battle, Roberto Vargas will contest Corey Grant for the MEZ featherweight title.

Zimmerman has been promoting mixed fight cards featuring MMA and boxing for more than a year with pretty impressive results in Southern California.

“There has been an overwhelming response to the hybrid cards. The fans of both sports have been pleasantly surprised about their enjoyment at the cards, says Zimmerman who had staged mixed fight cards in Hollywood and El Monte recently. “The advantage is that you get the best of both sports and see some great fighting that you may not see otherwise.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Riverside Convention Center is located at 3443 Orange Street in Riverside City 92504. For more information (888) 222-3183.

Sept. 17

Speaking of local fighters, a battle between local boxing gyms takes center stage at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario when Riverside junior welterweights Jose Reynoso (12-3-1) and undefeated Hector Serrano (13-0, 5 KOs) fight in the main event.

Also on the same card will be Artemio Reyes Jr. (6-1, 5 KOs) matched against veteran Michael Lucero (12-16-2) in a welterweight clash. And popular undefeated boxers Efrain Esquivias (9-0, 5 KOs) battles undefeated Ephraim Martinez (4-0) in a six round junior featherweight match.

Sept. 18

Pomona’s Sugar Shane Mosley recently had a media day in West Hollywood. The former lightweight, welterweight and junior middleweight world champion is preparing for a 12-round battle with former junior middleweight world champion Sergio Mora of East L.A.

“I know he thinks he can beat me, said Mosley who just turned 39.

For discount tickets to the fight that takes place at Staples Center use the promo code “Wildwest when calling Ticketmaster or go to

Fights on television

Fri. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m., Chris Martin (19-0-2) vs. Jose Luis Araiza (29-2).

Sat. ESPN, 2 p.m., Wladimir Klitschko (54-3) vs. Samuel Peter (34-3).

Sat. HBO, 7 p.m., Yuri Gamboa (18-0) vs. Orlando Salido (34-10-2).