Amer Abdallah will get his first shot Saturday at a world kickboxing championship title, and aims to win it in his adopted hometown of Lockport.
Abdallah, 38, ranked second in the World Kickboxing Association light heavyweight division, will put his 16-0 record on the line against Gareth Richards, of Wales, United Kingdom, who has been WKA champion in the weight class the last three years.
The bout tops a mostly kickboxing card. The exception: a boxing match that will feature former heavyweight boxer Joe Mesi’s nephew Tyler Mesi of North Tonawanda against fellow 17-year-old Tyler Rodier of Niagara Falls.
“We had offers for Dubai, offers for Las Vegas, but I wanted it here,” said Abdallah, whose Lace Up Promotions company won the bid and gave him the choice of where to host the fight.
Richards, 31, has a 28-5-1 international kickboxing record.
“He’s very aggressive,” Abdallah said. “He comes in straightforward. No disrespect to him, but I don’t think he’s as skilled as I am. But he can be relentless. It’s going to be a great fight.”
Abdallah said he has “a great game plan” for the contest: “I’m confident I’ll be the first Western New Yorker to win a world title.”
Doors open for the event at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Kenan Center, 433 Locust St. Fights start at 7 p.m.; tickets are available at ticketfly/210y5zu.
Abdallah moved to Lockport as a child after his father won a bid to own eight McDonald’s restaurants. He started studying martial arts in the city before he went to college in his native Jordan on a kickboxing scholarship and competed for the national team. He returned to Lockport 16 years ago and opened his first kickboxing gym about the same time Billy Blanks started his Tae Bo cardio kickboxing venture.
“When that came out, I had 70 women in my kickboxing class and I thought, ‘Wow, this workout can really appeal to everybody.’ That’s when I started gearing it toward fitness,” he said. “Whether you want to train for a fight or train to be in the best shape of your life, kickboxing is the best workout. You can choose to take a contact or noncontact aspect of it.”
He opened the Lockport Athletic & Fitness Club in 2003 inside Flips Gymnastics and sold the business in 2013 to focus on his promotions business and pursue his dream of fighting in a world kickboxing championship in Lockport. The gym continues to teach cardio kickboxing with trainers he trained.
He and his wife, Alanoud, moved to Las Vegas last December so Abdallah could continue training with Jeff Mayweather, uncle of boxing great Floyd Mayweather, and prepare for Saturday’s fight. The couple had their first child, daughter Alyah, nine months ago.
“My body is very preserved,” Abdallah said. “I feel good at my age. I told my wife that the moment I feel I can’t keep up with these younger guys, I’ll walk away, but that hasn’t happened yet.”
Abdallah and his family arrived Sunday in Lockport from Las Vegas with Mayweather, his head boxing coach, and two-time world kickboxing champion Dewey Cooper.
What happens after the world championship bout – which Lace Up Promotions touts as “The Final Chapter”?
“In my heart, I believe this is the final one,” Abdallah said. “My goal is to win the title, and immediately after that I think I’ll know what the future holds.”