Battle at the Big Sandy

Over the weekend, The Battle at the Big Sandy brought in boxing fans from the tri-state area to watch local professional and amateur boxers. Some contestants were completely new to the boxing scene, fighting their first ever matches at the Battle. Other contestants were looked at as veterans to the Battle. One fighter even fought their last match ever in the Big Sandy.

Long time professional heavyweight boxer, Jeremy “The Beast” Bates, of Greenup, Kentucky clinched his final win Saturday night before saying emotional goodbyes from the ring as Bates entered retirement for second time.

“I dread walking down these stairs one last time,” Bates said, addressing the audience. “Thank you, for being a part of this thing I did for all these years.”

“I’m more than a fighter; I’m a dad, I’m a husband and all that.”

— Jeremy Bates

Now 41 years old, Bates began fighting in his late teens by getting involved with the local Boys and Girls Club. Bates was looking for an outlet and a place to continue competing after giving up boxing to support his family.

“I started when I had my oldest daughter, who is 22 now, when I graduated high school,” Bates said. “I had kids and had to stay around, get a job and I couldn’t compete and do anything else. I walked into the Westwood Boy’s Club one day, I was 18 years old and I started fighting there and they took me all around this country. I owe the Boys and Girls Clubs of America a lot. It’s a great thing and it keeps kids out of trouble cause I probably would have been in trouble.”

Making his professional debut in 1999 at age 25, Bates saw early success, which ultimately led to him fighting former world champion, Evander Holyfield, in 2006, which prompted the announcement of his first retirement.

Some local boxing fans see Bates as a legend. Bates said that he wants to be remembered by the amount of heart he put into each fight and by the hard work he put into boxing, which got him where he is today.

“I just wanted to be remembered as the fat kid that tried real hard,” Bates said. “I have zero athletic ability but I wanted stuff real bad and I worked harder than most people to get it. I lifted weights really hard and got strong and I got to where I could punch hard. I didn’t really have anything given to me, I worked for it, and that’s okay, I don’t care if I’m not remembered as this phenomenal athlete but they’ll always remember that I was good and I’d knock you damn head off if you got in front of me.”

Boxing was a part of Bates’ life for many years and Bates thinks it will remain with him for the rest of his life.

“It just something I’ve always been,” Bates said. “I don’t really remember not being a boxer. I guess I’m more than a fighter; I’m a dad, I’m a husband and all that. This was just something that was a big part of me. I will always be a boxer even if I’m not doing it.”

“I’ve been beat on a lot and I can take a good beating. I refuse to say die when other people do.”

— Justin Novaria

Slated as the last fight of the night, Bates fought Dante Craig as the co-main event and won by technical knockout (TKO) in the second of four rounds.

“It was exactly the way I wanted it, he made me work. It wasn’t something that was just given to me,” Bates said. “I came out here and I fought as hard as I could. I kind of threw caution to the wind and just went for it and I came out on top.”

The battle’s second co-main event of the night brought in professional heavyweight boxers, Pearl Dotson and Justin “The Teddy Bear” Novaria.

Novaria of Zanesville, Ohio won by knockout (KO) in the second round of six.

Fourteen years younger than his opponent, Novaria was expecting a much longer fight from the veteran boxer, Dotson.

“I wasn’t expecting to knock him out, I was expecting it to be a long grueling fight but I expected to win,” Novaria said.

Novaria had been training at the gym that he owns prior to the fight. Due to financial troubles, he had to shut down a previous gym he had owned but as of recently, Novaria has reopened. He trains local kids from ages 16 and older.

Novaria explained his nickname “The Teddy Bear”. Novaria called his byname “intimidating”, reflecting his work ethic when it comes to fighting.

“I refuse to quit. I’ve been beat on a lot and I can take a good beating. I refuse to say die when other people do,” Novaria said.

The winners of Saturday’s fights were:

Luke Lyons by decision

Jake Taft by decision

Chris Brown by decision

Hunter Russell by decision

Melvin Russell by decision

Adam Collins by decision

Justin Novaria by knockout (2nd round)

Jeremy Bates by TKO (2nd round)


Kelsie Lively can be contacted at [email protected].