Pro boxing is returning to Greater Victoria for the first time in a more than a decade and it’s a big one.
Summer Slugfest is Friday Sept. 8 outside at Western Speedway, a Stan Peterec promotion of pro boxing, amateur mixed martial arts and kickboxing.
More importantly, it’s the first fight for Victoria’s newly adopted son Adam Braidwood since he dealt a fatal blow to Tim Hague, who died two days after their June 16 fight in Edmonton.
Braidwood, a six-foot-four, 250-pound heavyweight, will fight Colorado’s Kenny Lemos, a skilled boxer with 14 wins and 26 pro fights.
The trick with Lemos is caution. He’s older, he’s a little bit chubby, so his looks are deceiving, Braidwood said.
“People see my opponent and they think, ‘Ha, you’ll walk through this fight, but he’s got wins, skills and fundamentals, don’t judge someone by their genetics, I take this fight seriously.”
Of course, Lemos is only one challenge Braidwood faces getting back in the ring.
The incident of Hague’s death is barely two months behind us and is still making the rounds in national media, raising questions about fighter safety and concussions. It’s the latest, and biggest twist in Braidwood’s crazy life, one that included crime and drug addiction, but also a life the promising 33-year-old athlete has put back on track.
He’s the title holder for Canada’s WBU belt and is looking to crack the top ranks of world boxing.
“It’s been a winding road but I’m hoping it leads to greener pastures,” Braidwood said. “I do this with the full support of [Hague’s] family, it’s just boxing, it’s what I love.
“Yes I could stop and retire and go that route, but it’s not me.”
A high school football star, Braidwood was drafted first overall by the Edmonton Eskimos in 2006. A football injury led Braidwood to an addiction with opiate painkillers that led to more drugs and some bad decisions that resulted in led to multiple criminal charges and a period of three years in and out of jail.
To his credit, Braidwood is now giving back. He’s spoken to at-risk youth for Vancouver’s Gang Squad, and openly told his story in a Ted X talk and in a video.
See Braidwood’s story here.
“It isn’t the easiest stuff to talk about, my life is a crazy life, some of my issues are so horrendous. It’s easy to say none of this happened and not address it but I didn’t feel like there’s anything beneficial about that so I talk about it,” Braidwood said.
Locally, Braidwood trains out of Zuma (he met owner-coach Adam Zugec in Edmonton a decade ago) and is excited to have the local fighters he’s supported at recent shows be at Slugfest.
“I support the local fighters, been to local fights and I’m excited to have them at the show because a lot of them follow my career, it’s cool to have trained with these guys.”
Also fighting at Slugfest are local kickboxers Suraj Bangarh (verses Kentaro Miyachi), Greg Lamothe (vs. Osvaldo Venegas), Tim Packer (vs. Gilbert Nakatani), Rob Doerksen (vs. Cody Jerome) and Saanich twins Paul and Peter Lopez making their MMA debut against Grey Patino and Justin Knoepfli, respectively.
With a live band and a beer garden, it’s going to be a big night, Peterec said.
“It’s the most expensive card we’ve ever done except for Donny Lalond’s card [in 1996],” Peterec said. “The cost is unbelievable, this card is at least $25,000 for flights and purses, which usually tops at $10,000.”
Peterec is the premier promoter in town though pro MMA did thrive during the AFC years, with Jason Heit, who’s Island MMA shares a space with Peterec’s two-floor gym on Fisgard.
Peterec is hoping the Western Speedway venue will bring out a couple thousand for a warm September night.