A night at the fights at Fight Club OC featured swagger, entertainment, excitement and intensity.
There were some low moments, but overall most could see why this event has taken off in Costa Mesa.
The first rule of Fight Club may be to never talk about Fight Club, but promoter Roy Englebrecht wants the word out: that this is the premiere fighting event in Southern California, maybe even the best in the state.
Englebrecht, a Newport Beach resident, saw his Battle in the Ballroom series last for 25 years in Irvine. It was successful for that venue, he acknowledges, but Fight Club OC is on another level.
The Hangar at the OC Fair & Events Center seats close to 1,400. There is a jumbotron on the wall. The walls open at the Hangar to give it an outdoor setting feel.
The show has sold out seven of the nine times it has had matches at the Hangar.
“When I saw this building for the first time almost two years ago I knew that it would be a great building for the fights,” Englebrecht said Thursday night just before the show of four boxing matches and two mixed martial arts bouts. “I never thought that it would be this great. The whole ambience the high ceilings, the video board, I just thought it would be good when I saw an empty 23,000 square-foot cement floor …. This is the Staples Center or the Honda Center in a miniature form.”
Englebrecht pointed out the obvious that Fight Club OC does not have a Manny Pacquiao or someone of Oscar De La Hoya‘s stature, but he remains intent on entertaining fans with a big-fight atmosphere.
“NBC Sports wants to do want to one of their shows here in 2013,” Englebrecht said. “They want this ambience because it translates to the TV because there is so much energy here.”
The energy was there Thursday night. Much of it was provided by former world welterweight champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley, who was a fighter at the Battle of Ballroom series back in the day. Mosley was there to help promote Fight Club OC and Englebrecht’s Fight Promoter University. A session took place this week in Newport Beach.
“To have a legit world champion at a Fight Club OC show just gives what we do so much credibility,” Englebrecht said. “We had Evander Holyfield here at our June 2011 show, so two world champs in nine shows is not bad. Also, we had Chris Arreola there, as well as over the past 18 months: Abner Mares, Israel Vazquez, James Toney and Daniel Ponce de León … hey, Fight Club OC is the show where the champions hang out.”
There was a nice buildup to the main event, the middleweight match pitting the undefeated Brandon Adams of L.A. and Cleven Ishe of Long Beach.
Adams and Ishe weren’t aware they were on the main event until the day before at the weigh-in. They filled in after Ramon Valadez, a super featherweight, pulled out of his fight weeks ago.
They were both a bit nervous to be a part of the featured fight. Ishe hung tough, but Adams remained undefeated.
Ishe was excited to compete at Fight Club OC even though he lost.
“It’s a beautiful event,” Ishe said. “I love it. The setting is great, everything. I can’t wait to come again.”