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St. Charles plays host to boxing extravaganza "Battle by the Bridge"

What is it about boxing that either repels or draws us so fiercely? It is the same thing, really, to quote from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: "Two men enter -- one man leaves." Boxing offers the distilled, pure core of all competition, stripped of embellishment.

Friday night is the best night for boxing, when the workweek reaches a merciful end and the masses burst from the gates, ready for action (and beer). This Friday, Station Casino and Primary Network (owners of the St. Louis Swarm and the resurrected St. Louis Steamers) are putting the fight in the Family Arena with "Battle by the Bridge."

In the featured bout, Jonathan Reid, 21-0, 13 by knockout, takes on Karl Willis 24-11, 17 by KO, for the North American Boxing Association middleweight crown. Reid, a black belt in the martial arts, went 57-3 as an amateur before turning pro. The undercard fights are promising: International Boxing Association heavyweight champion Suzy "the All-American" Taylor, 7-1, four KOs, vs. Karen Bill; heavyweight Jim "the Gladiator" Strohl, 17-1, 13 KOs, from Decatur, Ill., vs. Jessie Tucker; St. Louisan Chris Brown, 8-0, all by KO (and all in the first round!) vs. Roy Bedwell; St. Louisan Greg Hill, 4-0, all by KO, vs. Leon Turner; and locals Gina Greenwald and Teresa Gaulden.

The sweet science (as the sport is known) seems to be catching another wind in St. Louis, what with super lightweight Cory Spinks, son of former heavyweight champ Leon Spinks, beating up the competition, and recent contests at Earth City's InCahoots. Then there was the official apotheosis of Muhammad Ali at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, continuing now as a host of silly best-athlete-of-the-century lists register his name at or near the tippity-top.

All that the Family Arena requires is a better name for the next night of fights. Battle by the Bridge? We humbly suggest "The Punchin' Flurry by the Missouri." No? "Heavyweights by the Interstate"? "Struck in St. Chuck"? "Jaw Droppin' and Antique Shoppin'"? Ya wanna go?

"Battle by the Bridge" begins at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19, at the Family Arena, 2002 S. River Rd. in St. Charles. Tickets are $10-$35; call 534-1111.

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