Phil Armer is a nostalgic guy. That’s why he is trying to bring professional boxing back into prominence on the local sports scene. That’s why he loves to hold his boxing events in the somewhat antiquated surrounding of Danceland Ballroom.
And that’s why he is bringing the Quad-Cities’ most successful pro boxer of the past 20 years back to town for a fight on Feb. 23 as part of “The Civil War” boxing event at Danceland.
Antwun Echols, a world middleweight contender a decade ago, will be one of the headliners on the card, presented by Armer Boxing and Calkins Sports Productions.
Echols, 41, will take on Galesburg’s George Carter in a six-round middleweight bout that he hopes will jump-start a career that has waned since 2004.
Echols (32-19-4) twice fought Bernard Hopkins for the IBF world championship and fought Anthony Mundine for the WBA world title in 2003. But he has just one win in his past 18 fights and has not fought in his hometown of Davenport for 13 years.
“It’s going to be a good fight,” Echols said. “Carter is no pushover.”
In fact, Carter is 8-0 and has become something of a regular on Armer’s local shows.
The co-main event has Gilbert Venegas of East Moline taking on Muscatine’s Lance Williams in a six-round welterweight bout.
Venegas (11-7-3) was part of a November card at Danceland, winning a hard-fought victory over Leonard Overstreet. Williams is off to a 4-0 start
in his pro career with all four victories coming by knockout against fighters who have yet to win a pro bout.
The 35-year-old Venegas said he is “totally excited” to be facing someone of Williams’ caliber.
“You’ll see more of the real Gilbert this time,” he predicted. “I’m excited to stop this kid. He’s calling me an old man. I don’t even know him. I guess he’s saying things to get himself fired up.”
Armer, a former local amateur boxer himself, said he is expecting another sellout crowd at Danceland, which has seating for about 500 but can hold 1,100 to 1,200 people.
“Of course, there’s hardly any room to move when you get that many people in there,” he said.
“I’m excited about the way this is going,” he said of his efforts to revive boxing locally. “There hasn’t been a real pro boxing scene here since the 1990s.”
Armer did four boxing shows here last year and has five planned this year. He admitted that as it grows, he might need to consider larger venues.
“That’s a decision we’ll need to make at some point,” he said. “But I kind of like the old-time feel of Danceland.”
The Civil War
Feb. 23 at Danceland
George Carter (8-0) vs. Antwun Echols (32-19-4), middleweight (6 rounds)
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Gilbert Venegas (11-7-3) vs. Lance Williams (4-0), welterweight (6)
Travis Hartman (12-16-1) vs. William Bokhart (0-9), welterweight (6)
Jake Klemme (1-0) vs. Robert Goldsmith (0-0), middleweight (4)
Alex Rozman (0-0) vs. Jesse Nunez (0-0), heavyweight (4)
Joe Jordan (1-0) vs. Nick Christensen (2-1), light heavyweight (4)
Kenneth Taylor-Schmitz (2-4) vs. Fred Thomas (0-10-2), light middleweight (4)
Travis Thomas (1-0) vs. Justin Gauthier (0-1), light welterweight (4)
Vic Martinez (0-0) vs. Ricky Thompson (1-7), lightweight (4)
Limberth Ponce (2-0) vs. Eli Smith (0-1), middleweight (4)
Donovan Dennis (1-0) vs. Derrick Mehmen (0-0), heavyweight (4)