Two boxers with Commonwealth Games experience are among the drawcards of a mammoth 21-fight card at Wagga Boat Club on Saturday, the city's first big fight night in some years.
Hosted by Barefoot Boxing, the sold-out event is drawing fighters from Campbelltown, Manly, Lakemba, the Central Coast, the ACT, Young, Albury, Henty and Narrandera.
For Barefoot's Tony Abbott, it's the culmination of four years' effort trying to stage a fight night in Wagga, and six months of active planning for this event.
Part one of the reward was an overwhelming public response, with all 200 tickets selling out within days. With fighters, trainers and officials, there'll be around 300 in attendance.
"I was amazed. I was absolutely amazed. I could've sold it out one-and-a-half times," Abbott said. "There's been that much interest. It's a big night. There's five Murrumbidgee Champion belt fights."
Part two will come on the night when eight boxers from the Barefoot gym get in the ring, including Bashir Nasir and Regarn Simbwa, who have represented Uganda at the Commonwealth Games.
Bantamweight Nasir, 25, fought in Glasgow in 2014 and the Gold Coast last year in the men's 56kg division.
Simbwa, 22, made the quarter-finals of the men's 81kg, losing to the eventual gold medallist, Sammy Lee, of Wales.
Both moved to Wagga late last year. Nasir, who had more than 100 fights in Uganda, will feature in an exhibition fight against Canberra's Harrison Eliot.
Simbwa, a former Ugandan champion, is in the main event, against Campbelltown's Dee Loepa for a Murrumbidgee Champion Elite belt (91kg, 15+ fights).
"Very excited," Simbwa said. "I went to Sydney and I sparred with him. He's much shorter than me... movement (will be the secret)."
The other Wagga boxers contesting for Murrumbidgee Champion belts are Angus Heine (70kg, youth, under five fights), Billy Kelly (91kg, under five fights) and Garth Scriber (69kg, under five fights). The fourth belt fight will be the penultimate bout featuring Isaias Sette from Lakemba's Focus gym against Taj Kagho from Kickstart Manly.
Abbott said he's had plenty of support from Boxing NSW, a member association of the Olympics-aligned Boxing Australia.
"In country areas, it's mostly been League (affiliated) boxing. League boxing is another amateur stream but it's more of a pathway to professional boxing," Abbott said.
"Boxing Australia is the amateur stream which has the pathway to the Olympic Games. I'd like my boys to have opportunities that way."
The boxers have been travelling to gyms around NSW for sparring, and attended a fight night. With many relatively inexperienced in the ring, they've tried to finetune their mental preparation as well as physical.