Friday, March 16, 2012
KINGSTON, N.Y. — It will be bright lights in the big city for Kingston’s Chris Mauceri when the 21-year-old takes part in the Muay Thai at the Mecca at Madison Square Garden tonight.
Mauceri will be on the 24-fight kickboxing card in his 14th amateur bout.
“It’s going to be very exciting to fight at the Garden,” Mauceri said. “I’ve fought before big crowds before, but this will be the biggest. It’ll be an unbelievable experience.”
Mauceri, a 2009 Kingston High graduate, got interested in the sport while training at Black & Blue Mixed Martial Arts in the Kingston Plaza.
Mauceri explained that Muay Thai is very similar to Mixed Martial Arts except that all of the fighting occurs standing up.
“It originated in Thailand and I believe it was a way to teach hand-to-hand combat,” he said. “It was translated to be a sport and it’s getting more and more popular.”
Mauceri said there are about 10-15 people currently training at Black & Blue in Muay Thai, with a handful of them actively competing in amateur bouts.
“It’s a great place to train and my coach, J.J. Russo, does so much to help me and everyone else,” he said. “All of the instructors want every one of us to improve.”
Friday’s event at Madison Square Garden is the first of its kind at the famous arena.
Some of the top professional fighters also are on the card, including the main event, Rigle “Cool Heart” Balsamico taking on UFC veteran Ryan “The Lion” Madigan.
Both men have more than 20 victories and are expected to provide non-stop action in the ring.
“I think it’s going to be cool to see the pros fight, too,” Mauceri said. “I’m always looking for ways to better my style.”
Mauceri said he faces Tim Schmeier of New York City in his bout.
“I saw him fight once before, but I really don’t know much about him,” Mauceri said.
“He’s 6-foot-2 and a very tough guy. My plan is to go out and take the center of the ring to try to dictate the pace of the fight.”
Mauceri said he will use his right roundhouse and right front-kick to the face as often as possible.
“Both of those moves are crowd pleasers,” he said.
With a record of 8-5, Mauceri has his sights set on becoming a professional.
“I’d like to turn pro later this year and fight as long as I can,” he said. “I might also consider becoming a coach or trainer. It’s something I love to do.”