Professional boxing is returning to SaskTel Centre for the first time in 29 years.
“Thunder on the Prairies” was announced Monday, with seven fights featuring several local fighters scheduled for Nov. 25 at the arena.
The event marks the first time SaskTel Centre will host professional boxing since May 28, 1988 when Donovan “Razor” Ruddock knocked out Ken Lakusta in the first round to claim the Canadian Heavyweight Boxing Championship.
Boxing events have since been hosted at Prairieland Park.
Saskatoon’s Gary “Hocus Pocus” Kopas, current Canadian cruiserweight champion, will headline the night in a 10-round bout against France-based Saiduo Sahh with an international title on the line.
“Being the hometown guy for once is definitely really exciting,” Kopas said at the announcement, adding it’ll be the biggest fight of his career. “I’ve been waiting for this.”
The 39-year-old boxer said he was originally supposed to make his professional debut in Saskatoon 17 years ago, but his opponent never showed up to weigh in.
Fight promoter Dennis Page told reporters the SaskTel Centre atmosphere would be great for Kopas and other fighters on the card.
“Just the feel of the building says boxing,” he said. “Everyone is stepping up in competition. It’s going to make for an exciting night.”
Page said part of the thrust for the large venue event is to help build fan bases for fighters based in Saskatoon.
“It’s that whole hometown feeling,” he said. “It makes the guys train harder, prepare themselves hard and makes them mentally stronger.”
Local boxer Wayne Smith will fight in a six-round co-main event, facing off against Jorge Castro.
Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation’s Ian Abbott is also on the undercard, scheduled to battle Cesar Cardenas.
Tickets for Thunder on the Prairies go on sale Friday at noon, with prices ranging between $31.50 and $52.50.