BANGOR, Maine — Ken “Skeet” Wyman has been at the forefront of the resurgence of professional boxing in Maine.
But his plans to bring a show to Bangor this summer will have to wait.
“It wasn’t meant to be right now,” said the owner of Wyman’s Boxing Club in Stockton Springs. “But once we get our feet wet there, I hope to do a couple of shows annually. The sky’s the limit.”
Wyman had hoped to team with Young’s MMA of Bangor to stage an Aug. 2 boxing card in the grand ballroom of the Cross Insurance Center featuring such promising Maine fighters as undefeated New England middleweight champion Russell Lamour Jr. of Portland and unbeaten light welterweight Brandon “The Cannon” Berry of West Forks.
When the Ultimate Fighting Championship agreed to bring an internationally televised UFC Fight Night 47 card to the Queen City on Aug. 16, that meant the Aug. 2 date would not be possible for boxing at the facility.
A UFC spokesperson said the mixed martial arts organization did not ask for an exclusive combat sports window in Bangor and wasn’t aware a boxing show was in the planning stages. But Cross Insurance Center-Global Spectrum director of sales and marketing Tiffany Sun said via e-mail that “most shows that we book come with a booking clearance for like-shows. It’s an industry standard.”
Wyman, who said he did not have a signed contract with the Cross Insurance Center for the Aug. 2 date, is instead looking forward to having a major-league combat sports event come to Maine and hopes the UFC’s presence could have a spinoff effect on boxing interest in the region.
“Having the UFC here is going to be great for the economy of Bangor,” he said. “Think about the influx of people coming to town that day. I’m all for anything that’s positive. It doesn’t have to be boxing, that just happens to be what I do.
“And whoever goes to see the UFC I’d hope would want to come to a boxing show when we do bring one to Bangor. I don’t want to create waves, I just want to be at the Cross Center when the time comes.”
A boxing trainer for more than a decade as well as a commercial fisherman, Wyman promoted the last card with pro bouts held in Maine in 2005 before professional boxing became illegal in 2007 with the demise of the Maine Athletic Commission in a cost-cutting move.
But the legalization of mixed martial arts in Maine in 2009 prompted the creation of the Mixed Martial Arts Authority of Maine, which evolved into the Combat Sports Authority of Maine as it broadened its base to include developing standards to restore professional boxing in the state and subsequently overseeing the sport’s rebirth.
Pro boxing in Maine regained legal status in 2013, with Wyman promoting the first card involving pro boxers in the state under the new bureaucracy in May of that year at Skowhegan Area High School.
That show featured the professional debut of Berry, a former regional amateur standout who works at his family’s general store in northwestern Maine but trains at Wyman’s club along the coast.
Since the Skowhegan show, two cards — one last fall drawing an estimated 3,000 fans and the second earlier this month drawing some 2,500 fans — have been held at the Portland Exposition Building, once one of the more prolific boxing sites in the nation.
And Wyman promoted a show headlined by Berry featuring both professional and amateur bouts in late April at Carrabec High School in North Anson that drew a sold-out throng of 1,000 boxing fans.
He said plans are in the works for a return show at that Somerset County locale this fall.
“We’re just taking it one step at a time rebuilding boxing in Maine,” Wyman said. “It’s never going to be like at the old Expo days in the 1960s and 1970s, but we’re going to bring boxing back.”