Boxing fans have a fighting chance to be entertained Saturday night in Elizabethton.
Area fighters Robert Hall, Blayton and Charlie Watson, Brad Austin and Roy King are scheduled to box on a professional card that begins at 7 p.m. at Evolution Sports Gym (formerly East Tennessee Sports Complex).
The 22-year-old Blayton Watson (3-0) hasn’t boxed locally in four years — since losing a controversial decision to Chad Trahan (Lafayette, Louisiana) in Brooks Gym at East Tennessee State.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve fought here,” Blayton said. “So I’m pretty excited, especially fighting pro.”
Blayton is scheduled to box Omar Barfield (Pomona, Calif.).
“He’s not bad and he’ll come to fight,” said Watson’s coach, Scott Vance. “But Blayton really looks good and he works hard. … He’ll get him in the second or third round, hopefully.”
Blayton reeled off eight two-block, uphill sprints Wednesday evening outside the Johnson City Athletic Club. It’s hard to believe he’s the same person who won a national heavyweight title in Marquette, Michigan at 200-plus pounds when he was 14.
Vance said this will be Blayton Watson’s fourth and final four-round bout before going to six-round matches. Blayton is still adapting to the pro level.
“You don’t wanna waste any punches really, I’ve learned, in the pros, because you don’t have punches to waste,” he said. “You don’t have a headgear on and if you waste punches or overexert, that could be it, you know. It’s not as easy to take a punch, I guess you could say, in the professional game.
“When you’ve got the headgear you ain’t got as much to worry about. The gloves are smaller in the pros. I’ve probably been caught twice now and this will be my fourth fight, so I can’t really say too much about how much different it is until we keep getting more experience.”
King, 35, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, will be making his pro debut. He’s also the event promoter, via his Bang Bang Promotions. King moved here from New York City, where he had a barbershop and cleaning business, and decided to quit trying to fight his dream.
“These kids aren’t getting the opportunity that they really wanted; they’ve had to travel far (for pro bouts),” King said. “So why not put some money into something that I love to do and I know I have close friends that love it and are dedicated to it. Life is about taking risks.
“I did karate and stuff like that growing up. I always wanted to fight. … And once I came in here and got around Scott Vance he showed me a lot and I started growing. I was always into football, basketball and sports like that, and I got in here and Scott said, ‘Man, I think you could box.’”
The chiseled King will take on Terrence Watson (0-11) of Danville, Virginia. King noted Watson will have an advantage with experience, but King did go 14-4 in amateur bouts. He said sparring with Hall, Charlie and Blayton and Austin has been invaluable.
“I love watching Robert and Blayton Watson,” King said. “They’re both elusive, quick and have speed. I can’t wait to see them fight also this weekend.”
The 22-year-old Hall (2-0), a 6-foot-3, 201-pounder, will take on James Johnson of London, Kentucky. Hall defeated Carlton Little in Nashville via technical knockout in April, his second TKO in as many pro bouts. He’s eager to fight professionally in front of the home folks, which include his wife Talor and infant son Braylen.
“Amateur was exciting, but this is a different level,” Hall said. “It’s an honor to have it here. I’m a little nervous about it, you know, first pro fight at home. But it’s gonna be good.”
You wouldn’t know Hall is nervous to judge by his style. He’s prone to keeping his hands down in a swaggering-looking fashion.
“I’m working on keeping my hands up,” he said with a big smile. “I watch (Muhammad) Ali too much. You know, how he fights with his hands down, trying to be flashy. Staying pretty, as he calls it.
“In the past, I’ve been fighting like that, but I’m working to keep my hands up more. And I’m working on conditioning more.”
Charlie Watson, 23, will box Quincy Brown (Selma, Alabama) at 168 pounds. It’ll be the first bout in East Tennessee in four years for Watson, a former Southern Golden Gloves champion that’s boxed in Ireland and for Olympic development teams based in Memphis and Los Angeles.
“It’ll be very exciting fighting in front of the home crowd again,” Watson said. “I don’t care who it (his opponent) is, it’s all business when I’m in the ring.”
Brad Austin (8-13) will take on Roderick Reed (Spartanburg, South Carolina). Johnson City’s Austin, a 37-year-old cruiserweight, has boxed professionally at such locales as New York City, Carson, California, Memphis and Tunica and Biloxi, Mississippi.