ELIZABETH - Wirt County's Mike Sheppard is about a month away from entering the ring as he's set to compete Feb. 28 at the K-1 Arnold Classic Sports Festival at the Battelle Grand Hall inside Ohio's Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The former world kickboxing champion isn't fighting for a title, but is scheduled to be on the card against expected opponent Kelly Leo.
"They contacted me probably about a month ago and asked if I would be interested and I said yes," said Sheppard, who was denied a fifth world crown when he lost to Randy "Boom Boom" Blake last year at Xtreme Fight Night 7 in Tulsa, Okla., where the ISKA world heavyweight title bout used modified Muay Thai rules.
"I actually passed up some pretty good boxing matches because of this. They haven't released the fight card. I think they are waiting on Ohio to approve everything. It's not confirmed, but they are telling me it's going to happen."
Sheppard and Leo have a past history and the Wirt County school teacher is anxious to get another shot at him.
"It was like eight or nine years ago and it was in his hometown and stuff, but he won a split decision over me," said Sheppard of his loss to Leo in Georgia during the ISKA United States heavyweight title bout.
"I've just been real busy trying to keep the gym going (in Parkersburg) and I've been training myself."
The Glenville State College graduate said he was excited to fight in the K-1 event, especially considering they aren't using Muay Thai rules, which Blake used to his advantage.
"Like the guy (Blake) who beat me this summer, he could use two hands to pull my head down to his knee," Sheppard noted, adding that won't be the case in February where the combatants can only use one. "You can keep that clinch (in Muay Thai) and every time I got close that's what he did so he wouldn't have to deal with my punching power as much.
"He was young, good and real fast, but he can't hurt me with his kicks and punches. That's (Muay Thai) not really my thing. It's kind of hard to deal with and that's why they got that kind of rules on that fight so he wouldn't have to punch with me. It is what it is."
With that being out of the equation for this upcoming bout, along with the fact the fight will be at a neutral venue, Sheppard likes his chances.
"I think the fight is only three, three-minute rounds, but it might be five," Sheppard added. "They haven't released the final stuff yet. I'm just training and I'm starting to get in pretty good shape."