Bright lights draw attention to the hype surrounding Fight Time 26’s main event.
Here stands Niko Price, grin and all, across from an older, more experienced Maurice Salmon on Thursday at Bokampers Sports Bar & Grill. Salmon had the typical chiseled look one would expect from a fighter before a big mixed martial arts bout.
Price and Salmon fight Friday for the inaugural Fight Time Promotions’ welterweight title at the War Memorial Auditorium.
“To me it is not necessary,” Price said. “Why mean mug it? I like smiling. Honestly, I think it is harder for them to handle a smile because they have that mad dog face. I just sit there and grin and give them a good look.”
This sort of gamesmanship is something Howard Davis Jr. could appreciate. Davis along with his wife, Karla Guadamuz-Davis, founded Fight Time Promotions five years ago. Although Davis was there for the start of Thursday’s weigh-in, he went home early to rest because he’s battling stage-4 lung cancer.
Born on Valentine’s Day in 1956, he was diagnosed in February. Both Davis and his wife said he’s never smoked a cigarette, had a sip of alcohol and has lived a clean lifestyle.
He recalls waking up one day and not feeling well. He lost weight, his appetite and the day after a show, he couldn’t get out of bed.
“That following Monday, my wife said, ‘That’s enough. You’re going to the hospital,'” Davis said. “That day I got diagnosed.”
Davis was a professional lightweight and featherweight boxer. He won the 1976 Olympic gold medal in the 132-pound weight class. In retirement, he was a muscular 190 pounds.
He now weighs 144 pounds.
Even if someone was meeting Davis for the first time, the signs are there. His wedding band appears a size or two larger. Whenever he speaks with his hands, the ring slightly jostles as does his watch, which slants to the side of his wrist. A smooth tone is replaced by a sound a bit more raspy.
“I have to chew gum,” Davis said to start the interview. “I don’t want you to think I am being rude or unprofessional. I have to do it because it helps me speak better.”
Davis has nights when he wakes up and his wife is not beside him. She’s in their office working on the business and setting up the next slew of fights.
For a man who has won 36 professional fights, the feeling he gets when talking about his wife affects him more than any punch ever could.
“I never got so married quickly in my life,” said an emotional Davis, who had everyone around him nearly in tears. “I’ve been married three times. Both marriages lasted two-and-a-half years. We’ve been together for seven and married for five. We got married nine months after we met. She’s my anchor, she’s my rock.”
Guadamuz-Davis said she’s tried to do her best in handling the tough situation.
The couple continue to run their business and have started the Howard Davis Jr. Foundation to raise funds and assist those fighting cancer.
Guadamuz-Davis has done all of this while caring for her husband and their daughter.
“I’ve always been the kind of person who works hard and is dedicated to what we are doing as a family,” she said. “It is more stress. I’ve had to figure out a way to multitask even more. I do have my days where I go relax but for the most part, it is a lot of work. He’s my husband and I want to be here for him.”