Fred Lear’s pursuit of a second amateur championship belt will have to wait — or perhaps give way to a professional career.
Lear’s scheduled fight Friday night in Manchester, New Hampshire, for the vacant Combat Zone MMA amateur bantamweight title has been canceled. Lear’s opponent, Jake “The Gorilla” Pilla of Billerica, Massachusetts, dropped out last weekend.
“During the end of my camp I suffered a pretty serious injury and will not be ready to step in this Friday night,” said Pilla in a Facebook post. “For anyone who knows me this was one of the hardest things for me to do.”
The Lear-Pilla bout was to be the main event of CZ 63 at the Radisson Hotel.
“It was a major opportunity, I’m not going to act like it was something I wasn’t looking forward to,” said the 25-year-old Lear, who subsequently had a half-hour telephone conversation with Pilla.
Lear, a product of Young’s MMA in Bangor who won the New England Fights amateur bantamweight crown with a second-round stoppage of Walt Shea on Aug. 5 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, had planned for the Pilla bout to be his last before turning professional.
“The more I thought about it and the closer I got to the Jake Pilla fight I really liked the fight because I was scared,” said Lear. “He’s a very tough competitor. He’s bigger, he’s stronger, and he’s fighting in front of his home crowd so it’s a hostile environment.
“These are all elements that help make you a more well-rounded, complete fighter, and if we get to the place we’re trying to get to we have to be accustomed to all the things we would have faced in that fight.”
Lear, a former wrestler and football player at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, is 6-2 since making his amateur MMA debut in 2012 and is riding a three-fight winning streak.
He’s not sure about his next step in the cage but there are numerous options, including two offers for pro fights.
Another possibility may be to reschedule the title fight against Pilla as the main event of that promotion’s Nov. 18 show in Manchester.
Pilla (5-2) is the former Combat Zone featherweight champion.
“If I’m being honest with you, it would be nice to start getting paid, but at the same time you want to make sure you weigh out all the options,” said Lear. “The problem is I’m very emotionally invested and I have my own bias about what I’d like to do.”
He’ll lean on his coaches and teammates as he moves forward.
“They’ve guided me to this point in my career, so we’re going to keep listening to the coaching staff that has gotten me to this point,” said Lear.