The first 13 fights of Bill Hutchinson's boxing career have taken him to local venues such as Stage AE, Rivers Casino, Mountaineer Casino in Chester, W.Va., and the Columbus Convention Center in Ohio.
In July, an opportunity arose for Hutchinson to make a leap, literally and figuratively.
Hutchinson signed on to fight on a Big Knockout Boxing card at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The fight was to take place Aug. 16 but on July 31, Hutchinson found out his fight had been canceled after his opponent was forced to drop out for undisclosed reasons.
"I could not be more disappointed, but it is what it is," Hutchinson said.
The fight was not just going to be a departure from the area but from a style Hutchinson has become accustomed to. Big Knockout Boxing is a new combat sport that takes place in a ropeless, 17-foot diameter circular pit, about half the size of a traditional boxing ring.
Hutchinson is not giving up yet though.
"We are discussing a possible October date in Vegas for a fight," Hutchinson said.
Any fight with Big Knockout Boxing would not count as part of Hutchinson's professional boxing record that currently stands at 8-1-4. All fighters negotiated a purse ahead of time with event organizers. Big Knockout Boxing is owned by DIRECTV and the fights are available on pay-per-view.
Hutchinson, a 2006 Montour graduate and Sheraden resident, still trains in Ambridge under the tutelage of Tom Yankello. Big Knockout Boxing promoters heard about Hutchinson and contacted him.
"It is definitely a big opportunity for me," Hutchinson said of a connection with Big Knockout Boxing. "Big Knockout Boxing searched for guys who fit their bill. This promotion wants entertaining fights and fighters who are coming forward and willing to fight. I guess I fit the bill for them."
Hutchinson was to fight on the undercard of a lineup headlined by the main event featuring Bryan Vera and Gabe Rosado, two of the top middleweights in the world.
"They got some big name guys," Hutchinson said. "It definitely gives you the comfort knowing these guys are taking it serious and professional. It is definitely an honor to be on the same card as those guys, it legitimizes the whole thing. I aspire to have my name mentioned as a big name at the top of the card someday."
Hutchinson is an aggressive fighter. Of his eight wins, four have come by knockout. Big Knockout Boxing matches consist of five or seven two-minute rounds. Hutchinson's fight will be a five-round fight.
"I am looking at this as a great experience," Hutchinson said. "It is letting me prepare for professional boxing match without it counting against my record. I gain experience, get paid for it and get to experience the bright lights. It will be a big promotion, I am getting all the experience of a big fight without having anything to lose."
To promote the card, DIRECTV flew Hutchinson to Las Vegas two weeks ago where he trained, participated in promotional events and received medical clearance.
"Boxing is boxing," Hutchinson said. "The only difference is there is nowhere to run. The pit is half the size of a boxing ring and outside of the pit it slants up. You are encouraged to go forward and not run around."