No Tomato Cans here – Promoter promises tough fights for card

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By Kirk Penton, Sun Media

They don’t come much tougher than Giuseppe (The Godfather) DeNatale.

Not only is the 34-year-old Winnipegger a former world champion kickboxer, but he somehow survived a scary car crash last November in which he broke three vertebrae.

So when he makes his debut as a fight promoter next Friday night, expect the Winnipeg scrappers to have their hands full.

“They all have tough fights,” DeNatale said of the local fighters, most of whom he promotes, coaches or manages. “I’m not protecting them by any means.

“The fans here in Winnipeg don’t want to see the guys from Winnipeg walk over tomato cans. These guys aren’t getting protected.”

DeNatale’s new promotional company, Testa Dura (it means “hard-headed” in Italian), is putting on its first show next Friday night, Aug. 15, at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. The eight-fight card, which consists of four Muay Thai kickboxing bouts and four mixed martial arts tilts, is called Gladiators: King of the Ring.

The main event will feature Winnipeg’s own (Dangerous) Dave Zuniga against Jose (Ultimate Dragon) Sulsona of Linden, N.J., in a five-round Muay Thai battle.

TOUGH OPPONENT

Zuniga is vying to earn a spot on The Contender Asia, a reality television show that is the Muay Thai cousin of The Contender boxing program. He wanted a tough opponent before his September tryout.

Sulsona has won all six of his fights in Chuck Norris’ World Combat League, and if Norris thinks you’re tough, you’re tough.

“Jose Sulsona is a very accomplished kickboxer,” DeNatale said. “He holds numerous titles. He’s the top striker in the World Combat League.”

Zuniga, however, is no pansy, as Winnipeg fight fans are well aware.

“Most of his fights end in a head kick knockout,” DeNatale said. “He has a vicious head kick. I think in four out of his last five fights, he’s knocked the guys out in the first round.”

Zuniga will also be putting his Gladiators Fighting Series middleweight belt on the line against Sulsona.

The semi-main event will consist of a pair of Hamilton kickboxers — Adam Higson and Shane Campbell — who do not like each other and needed an intermediary to organize a fight for them. DeNatale was more than happy to oblige.

“The kickboxing is going to be topnotch,” he said. “It’s going to be world class.”

The two big MMA bouts next Friday will feature Winnipeg’s Rodrigo Munduruca and Sagkeeng First Nation’s Chris Fontaine taking on out-of-towners.

Munduruca will meet Milwaukee’s Demian (Coroner) Decorah in a super heavyweight scrap, while Fontaine will tangle with Detroit’s Brendan Seguin.

“They’re both test fights,” DeNatale said. “They’re both fighting guys with more experience and better records than them.”

Tickets for next Friday’s card are available at Ticketmaster or by calling Team Canada MMA at 772-2599.

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