Wolfe vs. McNemar II showdown set Saturday at PHS

Gary Wolfe (left) and Dave McNemar (right) will clash in the Wolfe vs. McNemar II main event of “A Battle of the Ages” boxing card Saturday night at PHS Memorial Fieldhouse. The two Parkersburg fighters will square off in a rematch of their battle for the state light-heavyweight championship 20 years ago at PHS. Photos by Steve Hemmelgarn.

PARKERSBURG — The stage is set, whatever tickets are left are going fast, and the combatants are ready for Wolfe vs. McNemar II Saturday night at PHS Memorial Fieldhouse.

Twenty years ago on April 19, Gary Wolfe and Dave McNemar — both Parkersburg boys — stepped into a boxing ring at PHS to fight for the state light-heavyweight title, a match won by “King David” on an 11th-round TKO.

Both went on to achieve other glory in the ring. McNemar captured the West Virginia heavyweight championship with a stunning victory over Jeremy “The Beast” Bates, again at PHS, while Wolfe put a state championship belt around his waist too after he won the cruiserweight crown at Wheeling Island Casino.

But Saturday’s rematch, cleverly called “A Battle of the Ages” with Wolfe, 52, against McNemar, 44, was an idea thought up by Wolfe, who then approached both McNemar and promoter Mike Sheppard about it becoming a reality, and neither hesitated at all to jump on board.

However, one main obstacle the members of the state boxing and wrestling commission put in the trio’s path was its concern with the boxers’ ages. But they were eventually convinced otherwise and OKed Saturday’s heavyweight bout of six 3-minute rounds.

McNemar’s last pro ring experience was in 2013 and he has a record of 13-3 with 10 knockouts, while Wolfe’s last fight was in 2005 and he’s 16-7 as a pro with five KOs.

“If I was ever going to have another fight, this would be it,” said McNemar, who dropped 30 pounds for Saturday’s match.

“Usually, most people by the time they’re in their late 30s, they hang their gloves up,” said McNemar. “But this time around, I think it’s about the fans who have followed Gary and myself over the years.”

After their first fight, Wolfe and McNemar became friends. “He loved the sport of boxing like I loved it,” said McNemar, who was even trained by Wolfe for a while. “But this time around — and it’s never personal — it’s just business.”

McNemar admits “I’m not as good as I once was, but like the song goes, I can be as good once as I ever was. I think the same is true with Gary, and I expect nothing but the best from him Saturday night and you’ll see nothing but the best from me.”

McNemar’s two sons, Gunnar and Davey, will lead him to the ring Saturday night.

Wolfe’s thinking about his proposed fight was “I knew the thing that would really sell was a rematch with Dave. We had the great fight once that everybody remembers. I told Dave that I wanted to do it because I just like to prove to people that we can still do it, but don’t think it will work unless you do it, and then it would be a big deal.”

Like McNemar, Wolfe also lost weight (40 pounds) while getting back into fighting shape. “I want people to walk out Saturday night and say, ‘I can’t believe they did that at 44 and 52.’ “

Wolfe, who hasn’t been in the ring for 12 years now, thinks Saturday’s match “will be a good fight really because for the main reason that Dave and I are both competitors. I mean if we’re on our deathbed, we’re going to fight to death. That’s what made the fight great the first time, and what I think will make it great this time.”

Still, Wolfe noted “that I’m kind of biting off an awful lot, because I’m eight years older than Dave, don’t think I was blessed with as much skill as Dave and don’t have as much power as Dave. But I don’t care; I always like being the underdog. The more people think it’s impossible, the more I get pumped.”

Also on Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. card, Wolfe’s son Ben, 17, will have his first USA Amateur Boxing match, and other pro bouts will feature middleweights Brian “The Golden Greek” Camechis and Parkersburg’s Donnie Miller as well as current West Virginia cruiserweight champion Joe Paintiff of Parkersburg in a non-title fight,

Parkersburg’s Justin Milam will make his amateur kickboxing debut Saturday and participants in other amateur boxing matches will be Zack Hays of Vienna and Parkersburg’s Jeremy Buskirk.

Weigh-ins are scheduled for 7 p.m. today at J.P. Henry’s Restaurant, 5106 Emerson Ave., Parkersburg. Fight fans are welcome to attend.