Niagara Gazette

February 24, 2014

Casal returns to the ring Thursday

By Thomas Baldwin
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — NIAGARA FALLS — In person, Nick Casal is mellow, cordial and soft spoken.

But put him in a boxing ring and something comes out of him. He turns into a brute.

The Niagara Falls native has been waiting a long time for Thursday night, when he will don the trunks and fight Shakha Moore in the main event at the Fight on the Falls, which will be held at the Niagara Falls Event Center. Casal has fought in Buffalo numerous times as a professional, but this will truly be a pro fight in his hometown.

“I feel it is a good thing,” said the 28-year old. “I’m used to the pressure. It has been like that my whole career. It is nothing new. I am happy to be fighting in my hometown.”

Casal, who went through a routine workout on Sunday afternoon and landed blows against basically a human target with striking veracity and rapidity, owns a sparkling 23-4-1 record in the professional ranks and has won 17 fights by knockout. Thursday will be the 5-foot-7, 147-pound welterweight’s first fight since October 2011 in Los Angeles’ Staples Center.

That is a long time. But Casal, who irrigates himself routinely with a concoction consisting of cucumber and watermelon juice (which cannot be bought but has to be made), is not concerned.

“Not really,” he said. “I will be a little rusty, I expect that. But I was in the gym after that, and I never stopped coming to the gym. I’m ready. I am peaking at the right time and will be ready for Thursday.”

Moore is a 37-year-old with a career 11-19-3 record. He has lost his last four fights.

“I know he is a southpaw and he switches it up,” said Casal, who is trained by his father Ray. “He is a good fighter, and game, very game. His record may lie about good he really is. He is a good fighter, and I expect him to come 100 percent.”

The other local boxer who will be fighting is Niagara Falls native Jake Ventry. The rambunctious 5-foot-7, 118-pounder will battle Jesus Gonzales in a bantamweight bout. Ventry went an impressive 17-3 in the amateur ranks and will be making his professional debut.

“I am really excited,” he said. “I just want to go out there and look sharp. And if I hurt him, I want to put on a show for my home crowd.”

A challenge for Ventry will be achieving the acclimation from the amateur to the professional venue.

“The main thing is, they let you get away with a lot more,” said Ventry about professional boxing. “I might have to deal with someone elbowing inside, or holding on longer or pushing ... doing things they are normally not allowed to do. But you can get away with more in the pros, so I just have to prepare to deal with that.”

Ventry, who started serious training for this fight in early January, does not a know a thing about his opponent, and does not care.

“I just want to go out there and stick to a gameplan and look sharp,” he said. “The main thing is, you can’t worry about your opponent, and what he is going to do. You have to worry about what you do to make them worry about you.”

The doors for the nine-bout card open at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The opening bell is one hour later.