Chicago has a long and storied history in boxing.
Now Big Knockout Boxing wants to add a more physical brand to the sport.
According to a BKB statement, its style of boxing is a more intense, toe-to-toe version. Big Knockout Boxing takes place in a 17-foot circular battleground called "The Pit," which is roughly half the size of a conventional boxing ring with no ropes.
In its quest to resuscitate a sport that has lost fans to mixed martial arts, BKB recruited two Windy City fighters for its debut event.
David "King" Estrada and Dimar "El Animal" Ortuz will be a part of a fight card Saturday that will be televised live on pay-per-view from The Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Ortuz and Estrada will be fighting for the titles in their respective weight classes, and both spoke with RedEye before their impending bouts.
Evan F. Moore is a RedEye special contributor.
TALE OF THE TAPE: David Estrada
Weight class: Junior middleweight, 154 pounds
Reach: 70 inches
Record: 26-6 (16 knockouts)
Lives: South Side
Saturday's opponent: Eddie Caminero (7-8, six knockouts)
Boxing was not David "King" Estrada's first love.
"I used to like football. When I turned 14, I told my dad to take me to a boxing ring," he said. "I wanted to learn how to box."
At age 14, he followed his father John, and his uncles Danny and Glen, into the sport.
"After my first day at the boxing gym, I knew that I was going to be a boxer," Estrada said. "I never played football after that."
Along the way, he won the Chicago Park District City Championship and the Texas State Golden Gloves competitions. He has also fought against former titleholders Ishe Smith, a fighter promoted by Floyd Mayweather; as well as Shane Mosley and Andre Berto.
In the ring, or in this case, "The Pit," Estrada's style should fit perfectly..
"My strategy is to put on lot of pressure. I'm aggressive," he said.
Big Knockout Boxing sought Estrada out because they thought he would be a great fighter for their promotion.
"They approached me. They thought this style of fighting fits me perfectly."
Estrada also believes that the BKB promotion highlights his strengths as a boxer.
"The space is smaller so there's no time to box, you have to fight," Estrada said. "The fights are in close quarters. This style fits me because I like to fight."
He patterned his style after former middleweight champion Roberto Duran.
"He's the guy I watch the most. I've watched close to all of his fights," Estrada said. "I love the way his [were] fought."
Estrada also explained the origin of his "King" nickname.
"Right before I turned pro, one of my friends said, 'You should call yourself "King." ' So it just stuck. I'm basically king of the ring."
TALE OF THE TAPE: Dimar Ortuz
Weight: Cruiserweight, 195 pounds
Reach: 74 inches
Record: 10-0-1 (seven knockouts)
Lives: Humboldt Park
Saturday's opponent: Anthony Johnson (8-0, three knockouts)
Fighting appears to be a way of life for Humboldt Park's Dimar Ortuz despite the fact he started later than most in the sport.
"I used to fight with one arm behind my back," Ortuz said. "Three on one, I was always looking for a challenge."
Ortuz got the challenge he was looking for when he lied about his age to gain access to a North Milwaukee club to enter a fight competition. He was 18 at the time.
"I was the house champion. I was better than the rest of those guys," he said.
As Ortuz began to win fights and his interest in boxing increased, he wanted to be properly trained.
"I learned about boxing later in my life," he said."I would watch the fights at a friend's house."
To make a name for himself, Ortuz has fought all over the Midwest. He prefers the nickname "El Animal," a self-proclaimed one, over the one that stuck thanks to fan interaction on social media.
"I like to put a little Alka-Seltzer in my mouth to make it look like my mouth is foaming," he said. "I'm trying to get away from the 'Strongman' name."
Ortuz also discussed his strategy for his upcoming fight.
"Basically, we work on a lot of footwork, moving around the ring," he said. "For this fight, I made my own Pit I've been sparring and working out in the past few weeks."
Ortuz wants to be remembered as one the first standout fighters in Big Knockout Boxing as it takes off and garners interest.
"I want to be able to say that I was one of the first guys," he said. "It's like being a Jack Dempsey, being one of the first to get recognized. There's nowhere to run. You have to stand in and fight. I can't wait to get in there."
Ortuz added that he wants his hometown to have a BKB champion of its own.
"I'm proud of where I'm from and I hope to represent my neighborhood and my city," he said.
WHAT IS BIG KNOCKOUT BOXING?
According to a statement, Big Knockout Boxing is designed to "encourage and reward proactive and aggressive toe-to-toe boxing action." Here are some ways it differs from traditional boxing.
>> Each round lasts only two minutes, instead of three.
>> Bouts take place in a "pit," which is 17 feet in diameter; it's roughly half the size of a boxing ring.
>> Fighters who intentionally step out of the pit and into the "safety zone" are assessed a standing 8-count.
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