Initiated in 1989 within basements and backyards as private grudge matches, University Fight Night has evolved in the past six years into Arizona's most attended amateur boxing event. "Revenge," the forthcoming rumble at Celebrity Theatre, is yet another rivalry between students of University of Arizona and Arizona State University. UFN promises "great fights" and "good times" with "10 times the energy" of your everyday amateur boxing event, because of the built-in rivalry. And yes, all of the brain-bashing will generate proceeds for charity -- the Phoenix Athletic and Boxing Club, to be exact.
"Wimps need not apply" is printed on circulars promoting the PABC-sanctioned event. UFN prides itself on the fact that about 90 percent of those attending have never been to a real boxing event. Coach Larry Lentz, a former UofA student with more than 500 fights' worth of experience under his belt, explains, "University Fight Night has transformed a traditionally rough blue-collar sport into an exciting event for suburban college kids. The hard-core boxing fans that do come think it's the bomb. They love to watch these kids just go for it."
Undoubtedly, the male audience is drunk with testosterone, but Lentz claims that the better half of the audiences are attractive college girls who are tipsy in their own right. With VIP tables, mingling, cigars and cocktails, University Fight Night has something like a club atmosphere.
It all comes as no surprise when Lentz explains that the event was formerly referred to as "Fraternity Fight Night" with previous events taking place at Maloney's in Tucson. "It was a lot like St. Paddy's Day," Lentz recalls. "We had DJs spinning and some two or three thousand people hanging out, talking and drinking. This time it will be more like a real fight event with the ring setup in Celebrity, which is our first Phoenix event."
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Lentz, who promises that this is the closest participants will ever be to a real "Vegas-style fight," reports that heavyweights of the boxing industry will be involved in the upcoming event. Thomas Treiber of pay-per-view and Fox Sports Net fame will be flown in fresh from Vegas, as will boxing trainer and national anthem wailer Don House. Mike Tyson, Michael Carbajal and Phoenix Cardinals members are among those on the invitation list. A Miss University swimsuit competition is also scheduled into the event, ensuring a few more knockouts in the ring, but, of course, the focus is on the fighting.
For those curious, the origin of the title "Revenge" should ensure a good, clean fight: Not one of the past six events has been won by ASU.
University Fight Night's "Revenge" is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, April 27, at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Tickets are $15 to $40. For ticket info, call 602-267-1600. For participant inquiries, call 602-264-1381.