By Peter Lim
Lou Savarese will try and outdo himself as Houston's most prolific promoter. Within a week, Savarese Promotions will stage two cards incorporating three different combat sports.
On Aug. 16, a hybrid professional boxing/MMA card will be held at the Doyle Convention Center in Texas City on the outskirts of Houston. A week later, an amateur Muay Thai/MMA card will be staged at the Bayou City Events Center on Aug. 23.
Amidst the diverse spectrum of pugilistic art forms, an equally diverse and colorful cast of fighters will be featured on the two cards.
Fighting his second pro bout in less than a month, South African behemoth Ruann Visser (1-0, 1 KO) takes on Eric Lindsey (3-13, 1 KO) on the Aug. 16 card. After tallying a record of 16-0 in the amateur ranks, Visser, 23, relocated from Johannesburg to Houston earlier this year to train under Juan Lopez. Standing six-foot-ten with flaming red hair, the towering inferno attracted scores of South African fans in signature green and yellow Springbok jerseys for his July 24 pro debut.
On the Aug. 23 card, Mayura Dissanyake will face Jamie Garcia in an MMA bout. But it was a fight outside the cage that made Dissanyake a cult hero in Houston and his native Sri Lanka.
A gas station clerk, Dissanyake knocked out a thug trying to rob his colleague of a money bag last month. Executing an array of kicks and punches to the head and body, Dissanyake rendered suspect Odell Mathis cold as the concrete on which he lay face down. Mathis' cowardly accomplices abandoned their partner in crime and fled empty handed. Dissanyake then immobilized Mathis in a submission hold until police arrived.
Surveillance video of the foiled robbery subsequently went viral on the internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-29uYuR2cg
Savarese first began promoting prizefights in Houston in 2009. He gradually began inserting MMA fights into his boxing cards and even fought a "one-and-done" MMA bout on one of them. Last year, he collaborated with middleweight boxer and Muay Thai exponent Chase Corley (17-13 in Muay Thai and 3-0, 3 KOs in boxing) to stage his first Muay Thai card.
As a heavyweight contender, Savarese (46-7, 38 KOs) took on the likes of Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Buster Douglas and Tim Witherspoon. He retired from the sweet science in 2007 after losing a 10-round decision to Holyfield.