“In the tradition of professional boxing in rural Nevada, boxing is making history again in Fallon” reads a blurb promoting Saturday’s boxing show at the Churchill County Fairgrounds. We’re not so sure about the “tradition” part and “making history again” is frankly quite a stretch, but a boxing show under the stars at a rural county fair is a slice of Americana reminiscent of an old Coca-Cola sign and we think it’s pretty cool.
Riff through the record of an old-time fighter and you will likely come across a bout held in a curious location. Digging deeper, you will invariably find that the bout was staged in conjunction with a fair or festival. The Fallon show, dubbed “Rural Rumble,” is an oddment as it precedes the town’s big shebang, the annual cantaloupe festival.
Fallon, Nevada (population about 8,500), the county seat of Churchill County, sits in the west central part of the state, roughly an hour’s drive from Reno or Carson City. If heading due east out of Fallon, the nearest human settlement is the old mining town of Austin, 183 miles down Highway 50, called the Loneliest Road in America. If you’re heading that way, best gas up before leaving Fallon.
This is the ninth straight year that a prizefighting event has been held at the Churchill County Fairgrounds during August. From 2009 through 2012, the cards were mixed: boxing and MMA. Now it’s strictly boxing once again.
In blurbs for Saturday’s event, only two fights are cited as examples of the “rural tradition” – the 1897 match between Gentleman Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons at Carson City and the 1910 match at Reno pitting Jack Johnson against James J. Jeffries.
Those famous fights were planted at those locations because the promoters literally had nowhere else to go. Only naughty Nevada was welcoming. Carson City in 1897 was inhabited by roughly 3,000 people; Reno in 1910 by about 11,000, but both little towns were served by a confluence of railroad lines, an essential ingredient in plotting a big fight promotion.
Saturday’s “Rural Rumble” is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Let’s Get It On Promotions, and the city of Fallon. Let’s Get it On Promotions is run by brothers Terry and Tommy Lane, the sons of Hall of Fame referee Mills Lane.
The main event is a 10-round featherweight affair between Guy Robb (18-1, 8 KOs) and Miguel Marriaga (23-1, 19 KOs). Hailing from Sacramento, Robb will have a regional site advantage over his Columbian adversary, but Robb will be competing in his first 10-rounder and will be stepping up in class. Marriaga competed for a version of the world featherweight title in June of last year, losing a unanimous decision to Nicholas Walters in what remains the lone blemish on his record.
Robb vs. Marriaga will be televised on Univision along with a 10-round lightweight bout between Jose Felix Jr. (33-1-1, 25 KOs) and 36-year-old Denver journeyman Robert Frankel (34-16-1, 7 KOs). Although this looks like a stroll in the park for Felix, it is more than a stay-busy fight for the Mexican gladiator as he hasn’t looked sharp in his recent outings against opponents that he was expected to dominate.
The off-TV portion of the show is highlighted by a 10-round match between Oscar Vasquez (10-1, 2 KOs) and Janiel Rivera (14-2-3, 8 KOs) with a minor 108-pound belt at stake. Vasquez, from Reno, will be fighting in his adopted hometown. He made his pro debut at Fallon in 2011 and will be making his sixth straight appearance at this annual event. Rivera hails from Puerto Rico.
First bell is at 6 PM.