July 20, 2008


Columbia lands Simms comeback  - Capital city earns its biggest card in years as former champ begins his return to the ring -PATRICK OBLEY,

A big fish is coming to this small boxing pond. 

The first step on former WBA light middleweight champion Travis Simms' road to redemption will be taken in Columbia on Aug. 9 as the headliner of a card at the Radisson on Bush River Road.

It's a big step up in competition and venue for the local boxing scene, which arguably has not played host to a boxer of Simms' caliber since the late 1980s.

"It's more upscale, and it's what we've been pushing toward," said local promoter Andrew Stokes, who has overseen events at Jamil Temple. "We're bringing in the biggest and the best."

The 37-year-old Simms is 22-1 with the loss coming in July 2007 when he fractured a hand while defending his title against unbeaten Joachim Alcine. That also was Simms' last bout. While taking time off to heal, Simms asked for and received his release from Don King.
Finally ready to return to the ring, Simms called Stokes, who happens to be his brother-in-law.

"He's married to my sister," Stokes said. "I promoted him before he became world champion and signed with Don King."

The timing was fortuitous, since Stokes had just signed a deal to bring his events to Radisson's main ballroom.

Earlier this year, Stokes convinced officials from Radisson to attend an event at Jamil Temple. Those officials came away impressed with the scene.

Though the entire card has yet to be finalized, local fighters Robert Dunton, Mike Rayner and Cedric Boswell will take part, as will former Spring Valley state wrestling champion, Chris Yandle, who is making his professional debut.

A women's bout featuring Rachel Clark also is planned.

Current WBO welterweight champion Paul Williams is expected to be in attendance for the fight night, as is former WBA welterweight champion Luis Callazo.

"Three champions in the building at the same time," Stokes said. "It's going to be a big deal for Columbia."

Reach Obley at (803) 771-8473.





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