Earlier this year, at Ogden's Summit Hotel, Ogden boxing trainer Dave Foley was in the dressing room of Clearfield heavyweight Gary Cobia. As Foley, who was there to help in the corner, relates, Cobia's energy and pre-fight enthusiasm were beyond intense.
"He was pumped to an epic level," ready to charge out to the ring, recalled Foley.
Cobia had his hand raised that night, although the fight was later changed to an official no contest.
Professional boxing has been a tough journey for boxer Cobia. The 40-year-old Davis County sheriff's deputy, husband, dad and LDS ward clerk is still searching for his first pro win.
On Friday night, at The Complex in Salt Lake City, Cobia gets another chance. He'll fight Ogden's Fred Spitzenberg, which is a rematch of Cobia's pro debut 21 months ago, in which Spitzenberg gained a four-round decision.
The main event has World Boxing Union welterweight champ Chris Fernandez, of Salt Lake City, defending his title against challenger Hector Alatorre, of California.
Training at Foley's gym in Ogden, Spitzenberg (1-0) summed up the universal feelings about "Gentleman Gary Cobia."
"I like him so much that I don't really want to punch him," said Spitzenberg.
Cobia, for his part, has been active since his pro debut. Last year he fought two of the top prospects in the world -- one is already a world contender -- and was, frankly, hammered in both fights.
But Cobia hasn't give up. For the past several months, he's been working with trainer Ryan Gregory, of Logan, to improve his skills. Gregory, an old-school trainer, in his own words, stresses "hard-hitting geared to handle the hand speed common to the game today."
And Cobia is eager to learn from Gregory and others. Despite his job, church duties and a big family, he's a fixture at Gold's Gym, often before 5 a.m., working out with Ogden heavyweight Billy Zumbrun.
On Saturdays, he's in the gym with Zumbrun.
Other days, Cobia works out in his garage.
"I have loved boxing since I was 16," says Cobia, who is an imposing figure with an NFL build. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder recalls buying his first set of boxing gloves at 16. "My friends and I would always spar," he said.
Today, there are seven members in the Cobia family, Besides Gary, there's his wife, Amy, and five children: Bryce, 15, an amateur boxer, Melissa, 11, Tyson, 8, Nathan, 7, and Anna, just 4.
Gregory, who has seen potential in Cobia for a long time, is working to make the tall, strong boxer more effective.
"We're doing a complete tear-down and rebuild this (past) summer. We're currently working five separate mitt drills that stress offense and defense with hand-speed drills at the end to make tired arms faster," explains Gregory.
Also involved in the training is Amy.
"Amy has created different conditioning routines to stress stamina. Billy (Zumbrun) has helped with morning work-outs and mental support," added Gregory.
In his first fight with Spitzenberg, Cobia appeared wary at times, too eager to jab from a distance rather than engage his opponent effectively. Gregory is working with Cobia on a strategy for the rematch, but is not eager to provide the details prior to the fight.
"My wife is very supportive, but she hates to see me box. It scares her. I would like to fight at least every three months if possible. I will work with Eddie "Flash Newman" and Charles Presnell (both local promoters) and fight in Montana and Colorado a few times and head back to California," said Cobia.
Watching Cobia train grabs the observer. His intensity is evident. Despite the odds, 40 years old, a preliminary fighter still looking for a win, Cobia gives it is all.
After each set, whether mitts, rope-skipping, shadow-boxing, bag punching or sparring, Cobia looks toward his companion or trainer, ready for another round of exercise.
Indeed, Cobia, Spitzenberg, and other local pro boxers may have more opportunities to fight in Utah. The Complex, located at 536 W. 100 South, in Salt Lake City, which is hosting Friday's fight card (which starts at 8), plans future boxing events in 2014.
There may be more boxing cards in Ogden, as well. If boxing gets a burst of energy over the next year, it's clear that Davis County's fighting deputy sheriff will be on as many of the cards as his enthusiasm can maintain.