LAYTON -- Saturday night at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, the main event at the CCC Promotions boxing card matches Ogden's Billy Zumbrun versus Henry Namauu for the Utah heavyweight championship.
For Zumbrun, though, a 13-year pro with a solid reputation as a main-bout journeyman, it's another chance to get a win that will lead to another shot against a contender.
Zumbrun (26-13-1) has been fighting for 13 years. He launched his pro career without fanfare, and through will and determination moved himself up the ladder, into opportunities against the best heavyweight boxers in the world.
Because he often has to travel to opponents' home towns, several of his losses are suspicious. On national television in 2007, he seemed to win a majority of rounds against ex-champ Riddick Bowe, but lost a split decision. He lost debatable nods to hometown favorites Mike Mollo in Chicago and Donnell Bennett in Corona, Calif. In New York City, he was fighting contender Michael Grant on even terms into the fifth round. Grant stunned Zumbrun, and the fight was quickly stopped.
But that's the odds that are handed to journeyman fighters and Zumbrun accepts it. And he has scored several impressive wins, including over Eric "Butterbean" Esch, Joe Hipp, Billy Douglas, Tony LaRosa, Justine Fortune and Stacy Frazier.
His last chance at a big fight was a legitimate loss. He was stopped by ex-champ Ruslan Chagaev in round 3 in Germany. He's eager for another opportunity. This will be his second fight this year in Utah. In July, Zumbrun stopped journeyman Marcus Rhode in round two, also at the Davis Conference Center.
"My goal a year from now is to get (another) bigger-name fight," said Zumbrun, who admits that with age 41 approaching in October, time may be running out.
Namauu, a former college boxer at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, will provide a tough test. "He's a crafty boxer," said Zumbrun. The Ogden heavyweight adds that his size advantage and his punching power will take a toll on Namauu (10-6), who has switched from heavyweight to cruiserweight and back in his career.
One problem for heavyweights in the Top of Utah is finding sparring. Namauu, in Las Vegas, does not have that problem. Zumbrun appreciates those who have volunteered to help him get ready, including mixed-martial arts professionals Craig Mock, a heavyweight, and Justin Roberts, an 170-pounder.
With a master's degree, a good job, and a family who supports him, life is well for Zumbrun. But he hasn't lost the drive to be a heavyweight contender.
After Saturday's fight, if Zumbrun wins, he'll wait by the phone, hoping for a call. "I'm training and waiting, staying in shape. I enjoy doing it. I'll fight anybody," he says.
The rest of the CCC Promotions card has seven fights, mostly featuring prospects trying to move upward. Two are from Utah, five others are from eastern Europe, sent to Ogden to gain experience, and hopefully wins. The two Utahns are cruiserweight Jesse West (1-0) of Fruit Heights, and super-featherweight Jose Haro (7-0) of Salt Lake City. Both are described as "the future" by promoter Tracy Spinks. West meets Keith Busch (1-1) of Arizona, and Haro (7-0) fights Eduardo Guillen, (1-2) of Mexico. Both West and Haro were successful Utah amateurs prior to going pro.
CCC Promotions' connections to other promoters have allowed Utahns to see highly regarded prospects in Utah. Saturday night is no exception. The bouts include:
Russia's Evgeny Churakov (5-0) versus Wilbert Mitchell (1-8) in a lightweight bout.
Russia's Fedor Papazov (12-0) versus durable but oft-beaten veteran John Willoughby (3-21) in a lightweight fight.
Uzbekistan's Bahodir Mamadjonov (13-1) meets Rynell Griffin, a far tougher fighter than his deceptive 7-16-2 record would indicate. Griffin recently upset previously undefeated Jose Emanuel Saenz. Although Mamadjonov is the WBA International lightweight champion, the fight is not for that title.
Also, Lithuania's Egidijus Kavaliauakas (2-0) fights Jason Thompson (0-2) in a welterweight bout.
The Layton card is rounded out with a heavyweight bout featuring former world contender Damien Wills (30-3-1) fighting journeyman Dante Craig (20-15-1). It will be the California Wills' first bout in two years.
The card starts at 7 p.m. The doors open at 6. Tickets are available at SmithTix.