College Fight Night sells out The Lyric

Published 1:48 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

By Davis Coen

On April 18, Hit Fitness Oxford brought us College Fight Night, an annual event featuring over 30 amateur boxers in three weight classes, displaying their skills during an evening of exciting match-ups and non-stop action.

One of the highlights of the night was a Cinderella Story of sorts, involving middleweight Ole Miss student Grant Young, originally from the St. Louis area.

Email newsletter signup

The 5’ 10,” 185-lb. fighter lost his first bout in a split decision by a panel of Mississippi Athletic Commission judges, which the capacity crowd audibly contested, and thought his night was practically over before it even began

The brackets were set up so that the competing fighters who went the distance would fight three – or in some cases four – rapid, three-minute rounds.

“You look at the other guy and he’s got a bloody nose, and all the blood on me was from him,” said Young, who had been training at Land Shark Jiu Jitsu (which also specializes in striking and mixed martial arts [MMA]) for nine months. “After that, I went to the back and was like ‘damn, that’s it? I lost my first fight, really?’”

Since there were tournament-style brackets, the boxers were all told at the outset that if someone became unable to fight and was forced to drop out, another boxer could return to the competition.

Young recalled his coach telling him, repeatedly, “Stay ready…stay ready.”

Still wrestling with feelings of being robbed, he said he was “just waiting to be called on,” and luckily enough a fighter dropped out and Young was able to step back in, eventually winning his second match. Although his competitor stood at 6’4” and had a tremendous reach advantage, having just come off a loss, he “definitely had a little doubt” in his mind, although his coach, Oxford’s Nathan Medlin, kept telling him ‘“just keep walkin’ forward. Keep walking him down and you’ll do fine.’ So when I got in there I just tried to apply as much pressure as I could, said Young, “tried to keep him on his back foot, to not let him set anything up really.”

It was also a split decision, although this time he won. “Fights, they just go so quick,” he said. “While you’re in it, it feels like forever but when you’re done you’re like ‘what just happened?’”

For the championship fight, Young was matched up with the only other representative of Land Shark, Michael Pipinis, who had trained with him for months.

“He’s been there about as much as I have, working as hard as I was, and we knew it would probably come down to me and him if it came down to it. He’s a very talented martial artist. Kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, MMA…he’s good at it all,” he said. “Obviously when we found out we were both doing this and might fight each other, we weren’t really training together then.”

He said, “my coach was just telling me to trust my ability, and trust in what I’m capable of doing, and that’s really all I did. It was a hard fought three fights. It’s hard to put it into words because it just goes by so quick. One minute you’re in there and the next you’re walking out and you have a little bit of a bloody nose…a little sore face, but this is all boxing.”

Land Shark co-owner Jason Jackson mostly credited the owner of Hit Fitness, Codie Shuffield, for putting on the increasingly popular spectacle.

“Codie’s always been good at putting on events. He’s outstanding at that,” said Jackson. “It was always a good-sized crowd, but I had never seen or heard of it selling out. It’s a testament to Codie and Hit Fitness marketing that the event went extremely well.”

Although Young will be returning to his home state following graduation, he intends to eventually go back into the ring, although is unsure whether it will be strictly boxing, kickboxing, or MMA.

“I’m gonna take probably a year or a year and half off, and then reassess where I’m at,” he said. “I definitely do want to compete again, but this latest event showed me a lot of what I was made of and what I was able to do.”

But likewise, College Fight Night showed Young some errors in his game.

“I did not move my head as well as I thought I would. I thought my 1-2 and my meathook – which are usually my best punches – were working really well for me, but there’s still a lot I need to work on.”