(Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)
When Virgil Green steps into the boxing ring Saturday night, he will see a familiar foe.
And a new challenge.
The 24-year-old Vancouver fighter faces Nate Serrano of Yakima in the main event of an eight-bout card at Silver Reef Casino in Ferndale. It is the first fight for Green since March 10, when an eye injury led to his first loss in five professional fights.
Green (4-1-0, no knockouts) and Serrano (4-2-1, three knockouts) will battle for the Northwest Junior Welterweight Championship. It's the same belt Green won in October 2011 at the Clark County Events Center.
Green thought he would defend the belt March against Oscar Andrade. But that fight went to Andrade by technical knockout because Green lost vision in his left eye. Green said the injury was the result of Andrade head-butting him in the face.
"I've never had the stress that I had in that fight," Green said, admitting to frustration because the referee seemed to miss the head-butting. "Not being able to see — that scared the heck out of me."
Green suffered a torn retina. Surgery repaired the injury, but delayed his return to competition until now.
Green said he isn't concerned about having eight months between fights. He said that the quality coaching and sparring he gets at Fisticuffs Gym has him plenty ready. A week in October at Floyd Mayweather, Jr.'s gym in Las Vegas has him brimming with confidence.
"I expected to go down there and get beat up," Green said. "I went down there and made an impression."
Serrano, 31, is coming off an August loss to Osvaldo Rojas at the Emerald Queen Casino. Those same two fighters battled to a draw in June.
Green and Serrano split two fights as amateurs. Green said that he was "just a kid" compared to Serrano back then. Not anymore. Green is a father with a 9-month-old daughter and said he's never been more focused on boxing.
"I'm a different Virgil" than the one Serrano remembers, Green said.
Two other boxers who train at Fisticuffs Gym in Vancouver — Tigard, Ore., residents Sammy Perez and Oscar Hernandez — are also on Saturday's card for Rumble at the Reef XVIII.
Perez (1-1-0) takes on Corban Page of Portland (4-4-0) in a four-round junior lightweight division match. Hernandez makes his professional debut against Rolando Medina (1-0, by knockout) in a four-round middleweight division bout.