PARKERSBURG - The Fishbone Gill and Grill should be jumping Saturday evening as several local fighters are on the bout sheet for the outdoor Fishbone Fight Night I.
Promoter Mike Sheppard, a four-time world kickboxing champion who will be fighting in one of the four professional boxing matches Saturday, currently has a bout card featuring a dozen fights.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the first fight, featuring amateur boxers Joey Belaire of Clarksburg and Huntington's Ryan Dotson, is scheduled to get underway at 7:30 p.m.
The main event will pit Parkersburg South graduate Dustin Echard (6-0) against Oak Hill's Shawn Laughery (5-0). The victor gets a shot later this month to take on Eric Watkins for the vacant light heavyweight state crown.
"We've been trying to set this fight up (versus Watkins) and the number one contender is going to be between me and Laughery," said Echard, who was pleased with the support he received when he fought in town a couple months back. "It was awesome. I had a lot of friends and family come out.
"It was good to see people coming out, being interested in boxing and having a good time. It was good to really not so much introduce, but promote boxing in the area and get people excited about it and get them coming out to the show."
Bout Sheet For Saturday
Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
AB - Joey Belaire (Clarksburg) vs. Ryan Dotson (Huntington)
AB - Justin Knopp (Parkersburg) vs. Josh Knopp (Parkersburg)
PB - Mike Sheppard (Elizabeth) vs. Justin Novaria (Zanesville, Ohio)
AB - Perry Simms (Clarksburg) vs. Josh Fisher (Wheeling)
KB - Chad Blevins (Columbus, Ohio) vs. JR Hines (Lexington, Ky.)
AB - Zach Cheuvront (Elizabeth) vs. Alonzo Whaley (Clarksburg)
AB - Zack Hays (Vienna) vs. Tyler Conway (Shinnston)
AB - Mike Brown (Parkersburg) vs. Steven Chesnik (Zanesville, Ohio)
AB - Preston Wilson (Parkersburg) vs. Kenny Wilson (Wheeling)
PB - Nathan Hall (Parkersburg) vs. Nathan Butcher (Huntington)
PB - Joe Paintiff (Parkersburg) vs. Greg Maynard (West Virginia)
PB - Dustin Echard (Washington, W.Va.) vs. Shawn Laughery (Oak Hill)
Notes: AB (amateur boxing), PB (pro boxing), KB (pro kickboxing)
There's plenty of reason for folks to still grab a $30 general-admission ticket at the door Saturday as the second fight of the night will feature the Knopp twins from Parkersburg, Justin (4-4) and Josh (7-4), going at it.
Wirt County's Zach Cheuvront, Vienna's Zack Hays as well as Parkersburg's Mike Brown and Preston Wilson are also on the undercard. Wilson, 11-0 and a two-time Toughman champion, will be pitted against Wheeling's Kenny Wilson, who is also a two-time Toughman winner. Parkersburg's Nathan Hall and Joe Paintiff are also on the undercard in a pair of pro bouts.
Sheppard, who said his sponsor - Dean's Screens - will have commemorative T-shirts for sale at the event, noted two matches he hoped would happen aren't going to. Wes Hanson and Bobby Thomas Jr. were ready to fight, but "their opponents got disapproved," said Sheppard, who will take on Justin Novaria of Zanesville, Ohio.