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Stepping Up

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On March 9th, “Bazooka” Joe Valtellini steps into the ring for the first time in 2012. Despite the nearly six-month gap since his last fight, Valtellini will be taking on his toughest challenge to date: Shawn Yarborough. Yarborough brings an impressive 13-4-1 record and is often considered a “big” 175lb fighter. Valtellini, who has fought as low as 155lbs as a pro—with most of his fights in the mid-160s—is a big middleweight who will be meeting Yarborough at the catch weight of 169 lbs.

Over the last year or two, the debate over which coast produces higher caliber fighters has reached a fever pitch—and while this isn’t the first time the two coasts have clashed, March 9th will be the first time the East Coast / West Coast dispute manifests itself on the East Coast with fighters as well-known and talented as these two.

Yarborough, who fights out of Throwdown Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada, has a highly controversial win over Chris Romulo, an impressive win over Tom Munro and was also the WBC Muay Thai National Light Heavyweight Champion. He will be fighting for the first time in New York this March, and welcomes the opportunity to represent his coast in the upcoming match.

Despite touting a perfect record, recognition for Valtellini can’t come quickly enough. He’s confident that he can compete with the best, and with a perfect amateur career followed by five wins as a professional—all by knockout—it’s not hard to see why. In fact, even though Valtellini’s previous matches have been against some very solid opposition (Max Chen, 2008 US Olympic Sanshou; Alex Berrios, considered one of the best on the East Coast; Sean Hinds; Dorian Price, UFC Vet & on the “Contender”; and Ben Case) only one of his fights have outlasted two rounds (Ben Case, 4th round).

While a fighter with a perfect record who knocks out all of his opponents is hardly an underdog, Valtellini’s power will most certainly be tested; Yarborough will be, by far, the biggest, strongest fighter he will have ever faced. Meanwhile, Yarborough will be equally motivated to add another notch to his already-impressive record and represent his coast as fans eagerly look on.

Will the devastating punching power of Valtellini have the same effect against a bigger foe? Will Yarborough’s size, skill, and experience tarnish Valtellini’s winning streak? There’s only one way to know—March 9th, be there!

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