HANFORD — Marqus Blevins of the Kings County Sheriff's Department faces what may be his toughest in-ring challenge yet as he steps in the ring at this year’s Central California Battle of the Badges.
The annual night of United Combat Association fights pits members of the military, law enforcement and first responders against each other in the sweet science of fisticuffs. The event raises money for local charities — and gives local fighters and the agencies they’re a part of bragging rights for another year, when they win.
In what’s being called a superfight, current heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Blevins will face Camp Pendleton firefighter Chris Dubiansky, the UCA Super Heavyweight Champion.
“It’s a great privilege to fight in my hometown,” Blevins said.
Dubiansky will drop down in weight to challenge Blevins for his heavyweight title, hoping to duplicate some of Blevins' own dual-title success.
At last year’s event, Blevins made history by becoming the first fighter to hold two UCA titles simultaneously — and he’s now entertaining thoughts grabbing another.
Dubiansky’s super heavyweight belt won’t be on the line for the fight, but Blevins said that if this heavyweight fight is close and goes his way, he’d consider jumping up a weight class for a super heavyweight rematch.
“It’s crossed my mind. It would be nice,” he said. “I’m a dual champion now. Going for three would be really ambitious, but if the option is there and it’s appealing, why not?”
The undefeated fighter told the Sentinel last week after a training session at the Hanford Police Activities League (PAL) Gym that he’s at “full steam” and training now is just fine-tuning his game plan.
“Luckily this time, I didn’t have to cut any weight. I’m the smaller guy,” he said.
He’s hoping that being the “smaller guy,” which may be one of the few times in his life Blevins could be described in such a way, will lead to having an advantage when it comes to speed, while retaining power.
The boxer is currently finalizing a deal to participate in his first mixed-martial arts fight, which would take place in May.
Fighters train anywhere from three to six months, event organizer Nichole Martinez said. The fighters will train before work, after work, on weekends — really anytime they can fit in some sparring rounds in between their shifts and family time.
Proceeds from the event, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, April 6 at the Hanford Civic Auditorium, will go toward multiple charities, including the Fallen Officer Resource Fund and the Widows and Orphans Fund.
Martinez said that the charities are really at the heart of the event and is the main reason the fighters sign onto the weeks and months of training.
“They don’t hate each other; they all know they’re fighting for charity,” she said. “But, let me tell you, once they are in the ring — it’s go time. They definitely know they’re doing it for a good cause and to give back to the community."
And while there’s no animosity between fighters, friendly rivalries do pop up, she said. The most heated rivalries tend to be police officers vs. fire fighters and police vs. correctional officers.
One such rivalry will be played out during the 15-fight card when Woodlake PD’s Davy Ray Hall faces off against Avenal State Prison correctional officer Greg Azevedo. Martinez said that there’s yet another angle to the fight that will make it a must-see event.
“That one will also be interesting to see because you’ve got a police officer and a correctional officer going at it,” she said. “But they’re also childhood friends. They’ve been friends since they were 15 years old.”
Other fights on the card include a firefighter from Miami, a sheriff’s officer from West Virginia, members of Hanford PD, Fresno PD, California Highway Patrol and other local and regional agencies.
Tickets, $30-$50, are available at www.unitedcombatassociation.com.