'It's going to be a war': Cape Breton boxer ready for hometown title bout
Ryan Rozicki will fight U.S. boxer Shawn (The Killer) Miller for a WBC title at Sydney's Centre 200
A professional boxer from Cape Breton is preparing for the fight of his life this weekend before a hometown crowd.
Ryan (The Bruiser) Rozicki, 24, of Sydney Forks, is the current Canadian champion in the cruiserweight division.
On Saturday, he'll take on Shawn (The Killer) Miller, of Troy, N.Y., at Sydney's Centre 200 for the WBC International Silver cruiserweight championship.
Rozicki, who has a 9-0 record with nine knockouts, calls it his biggest challenge as he faces an older and more experienced fighter.
Miller, 37, started fighting when he was 12 and has been boxing professionally for eight years. He's 18-4-1.
"There's nothing he hasn't seen in the ring," said Rozicki. "I'm just looking forward to being there with such an experienced fighter."
Rozicki drifted into the sport after he got in trouble with the law as a teenager, which he said included "a lot of street fights."
How Rozicki got into boxing
"It was actually one of my court orders to join a sport," said Rozicki, who wanted to play hockey, but his father suggested boxing.
Rozicki didn't like the sweet science at first, but he didn't like losing, either.
"I sparred and I got beat up in sparring, and I just, I was like, I gotta go back and beat that guy up, so I just got obsessed with it and yeah, I went from there," said Rozicki.
Saturday night's bout is sanctioned by the World Boxing Council, one of four major international organizations that sanction pro fights.
Longtime sports writer Monty Mosher, who now works for CBC News, called it a "lesser championship" that nonetheless helps Rozicki build a profile and advance his career.
"Maybe this guy [Miller] will take him a few rounds longer than some of the other guys have and he can develop his skills that way, while still being fairly comfortable that he's not being overmatched by any stretch in the ring," Mosher said on CBC's Cape Breton Mainstreet.
Boxing has a long history in Cape Breton and the island has produced a number of top contenders.
Sellout crowd expected
Ticket sales for Saturday's event have been brisk, with organizers expecting a sellout crowd.
There are five fights on the card, including one featuring another Maritimer, Brandon Brewer of Fredericton.
Mosher said the sport has been largely overshadowed in recent years by mixed martial arts, and he's not surprised the event is generating interest.
"This creates a little pulse in the community for boxing, built around a guy they can get behind," said Mosher. "I think it's great for Ryan, but I think it's great for the sport, not just in Cape Breton, but in Nova Scotia."
'More of a boxer than a brawler'
Rozicki has been training in Ontario and said he'll have to be "more of a boxer than a brawler" in this fight.
"You can only get so far with punching power," said Rozicki. "I'm going to need composure, conditioning, a good jab. I need to bring something to this fight that he's probably not expecting."
Promoter Daniel Otter said the two fighters are evenly matched and he expects the bout will go at least several rounds.
'We're looking forward to seeing what Ryan's got after three, four rounds because he's never been in those deep waters before," said Otter.
Rozicki has made quick work of his opponents
In his nine fights, Rozicki has fought a total of 16 rounds.
Rozicki is predicting a tough fight.
"We'll shake hands before the fight and we're going to shake hands after the fight. But during the battle, it's going to be a war," he said.
With files from Gary Mansfield and the CBC's Cape Breton Mainstreet