B.C. light-heavyweight boxer Buneet Bisla goes after Canadian title on Victoria card

B.C. light-heavyweight boxer Buneet Bisla goes after Canadian title on Victoria card
Canadian Buneet Bisla (right) connects with American Khalil (Big Steppa) Coe on June 24, 2023, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Bisla lost that fight but looks to win the vacant Canadian light-heavyweight title when he faces Manitoba’s Devon Tomko in Victoria.

Since taking up taekwondo at the age of four, Buneet Bisla has won an armful of armful of amateur boxing and kickboxing titles.

On Saturday, the 26-year-old from Surrey, B.C., looks to add to that collection when he faces Manitoba’s Devin Tomko in Victoria for the vacant Canadian light-heavyweight boxing title.

The two meet in the main event of Champ Promotions’ “Round 4” card at G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre.

“The hard work’s been done,” said Bisla. “Six week of a gruelling camp.”

Bisla (9-1-0) spent three of those weeks in Miami, training with David (El Monstruo) Benavidez. The former WBC super-middleweight champion is gearing up for a June 15 date with Ukraine’s Oleksandr (The Nail) Gvozdyk for the Interim WBC light-heavyweight crowd in Las Vegas.

“All it was eat, sleep, train. Eat, sleep, train,” said Bisla.

Tomko (9-2-0) has won his last two fights after suffering two straight losses. The 31-year-old is the boxing instructor at Iron Image Barbell Club in his hometown of Selkirk, Man.

“He’s a tough and durable guy,” said Bisla.

“He’s got quite a bit of a good name here in Canada,” he added. “I know he’s been trying to fight for the Canadian title for a couple of years now as well. Now he’s got the chance against a young, hungry competitor.”

The six-foot-two Bisla, who fights at 175 pounds, is predicting an “early night” but say he’s willing to go 10 rounds if needed.

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Tomko won both his bouts in 2023, his first outings since a loss to American William (The Kid) Langston in October 2020.

Bisla has won his last two fights since being stopped in the seventh round by American Khalil (Big Steppa) Coe last June at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Coe turned heads in June 2018 when he stopped Cuba’s Julio Cesar la Cruz, an Olympic and world champion, in the first round at the Chemistry Cup amateur tournament in Germany.

Bisla showed his talent and character against Coe, rallying from two knockdowns in the first round and holding his own until the seventh round when the fight was stopped after Coe cornered him and connected with a flurry of blows.

“I know if I fight him tomorrow, I can beat that guy,” said Bisla. “The main thing I was overconfident … I suffered that night but that’s all right because I learned a lot.”

“It was a good learning experience for me … Stay humble, stay grounded and work,” he added.

Bisla rebounded with two straight wins, over Mexicans Brayan Hernandez Pintor and Heriberto Santillan Montano on Sept 29 in Langley, B.C., and Dec. 1 in Surrey, respectively.

In all he fought four times over seven months in 2023. And before his first outing last year — a win over Mexican Fernando Galvan in May — he spent several months in camp helping Benavidez prepare for his fight against Caleb Plant.

Bisla took some time off from “hard training” in December to let his body heal.

Bisla grew up in a world of combat sports. He is trained by his father Inder Bisla, a seventh-degree black belt in taekwondo who owns Bisla Martial Arts in Surrey.

“He knows me better than anyone else. It’s awesome. It’s a good relationship we have,” said Buneet Bisla. “He pushes me to my max. He knows how to push my buttons and how to get me going. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Bisla and his brother Gavin are assistant instructors at the family gym.

“It’s nice seeing that you can make a change in someone’s life, whether it’s getting them to the right path or whether it’s their health dynamics,” said Bisla, who teaches kids’ taekwondo, boxing and kickboxing classes.

“Whatever it is, it’s a nice feeling seeing a kid smile and feel good after training.”

Bisla started in taekwondo at the age of four, moved to kickboxing and had his first fight in a ring when he was 11.

“I fell in love with it,” he said. “It was the only thing I really liked and I was really good at. So I stuck to it.”

Saturday’s fight marks five years since Bisla’s pro debut — a decision win over Mexico’s Francisco García Lagunes in Vancouver.

The co-main event is an eight-round super-middleweight bout between Vancouver’s Sam Moses (6-1-0) and Surrey’s Aman Aujla (4-0-0).

Jason Heit, who is promoting the card, is a former Canadian light-heavyweight champion himself.

In other Canadian boxing news, lightweight (Prince) Lucas Bahdi (15-0-0) is set to face Argentine 135-pounder Juan Javier Carrasco (20-1-0) on June 1 in his hometown of Niagara Falls, Ont.

Carrasco is ranked No. 11 by the IBF while Bahdi is No. 12.

The Niagara Falls Convention Centre card is being put on by Toronto’s Lee Baxter Promotions.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2024.

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