Andrew Johnson

A different kind of hit is once again coming to Polar Park as the second annual Punch-Out will be taking place on Friday, August 9th at 6pm. Professional and amateur boxers will be showcasing their talents under the bright, heart-shaped lights where the WooSox usually play. I spoke with promoters Chuck Shearns and Kendrick Ball Sr. about the inspiration for the event, their commitment to the local community, and what attendees can expect from a night of fun in the stands and ferocity in the ring.

“Ever since Polar Park was under construction, I had a dream,” Ball mused. “I wanted to be the first to put on a show there. Every time I drove by, I envisioned my event taking place in that space. Knowing that I couldn’t achieve this alone, I sought out a partner who could help make this dream a reality. That’s Chuck Shearns.” 

Shearns remarked on the great tradition of boxing in the city and commented on the importance and intentionality of Polar Park as the venue for the event. “Our first event was believed to be the first outdoor professional boxing event ever in Worcester. It’s a centerpiece of our city and should be used for more than just baseball. There is nothing like boxing outdoors under the lights,” he explained. 

Ball affirmed that he did his homework and connected with people such as Shearns, Vice Chairman Khrystian King, Warren K. Palley, and others who had the expertise and connections needed to get this event up and running. It is no small feat to take over a park of that size and to coordinate such a night as this. 

To start, boxers with up-and-coming talent were selected to compete; Ball cited the need for “hot prospects” that brought both the energy and skills needed to take advantage of this unique opportunity in order to generate excitement and create an impact. Once organized and his ambitions realized, he knew he was onto something special. 

“Polar Park provides an incredible platform for both rising stars and seasoned fighters.” Ball continued. “The venue is top-notch, with perfect views from every seat. If you haven’t experienced it for a baseball game, you definitely need to come check out the boxing—it’s going to be spectacular.”

Noteworthy competitors expected to fight include Worcester school teacher Demek Edmonds (9-0) and Keno Luna (2-0), as well as several amateurs making their pro debut such as Justin Laporte, Danny Docimo, and Jhon Devers. 

The night promises to be entertainment for the whole family, a worthy cause in and of itself, but the event’s partnership with the Greg Hill Foundation ensures that the greater community benefits as well. Ball spoke glowingly of the organization and its cause. 

“The Greg Hill Foundation is fantastic. Greg Hill is well-known for his work in giving back to the community, which aligns perfectly with our values. We wanted to partner with someone dedicated to making a positive impact, and Greg Hill’s track record of great initiatives made him the perfect choice.”

Ball’s vision of the future of Punch-Out is, as he calls it, “electric and community-driven”. Ball, Shearns, CGR Boxing, and Co. are eager to commit to making it an annual event, with Ball emphasizing the importance of “rallying support for worthy causes while delivering pulse-pounding fights.” Last year, they received such positive responses that there was no question that there would be a round two. 

“I heard from someone who had their first date there that night,” Shearns said. “Lot of families, a lot of kids. The feedback was great from the people that were there as well as people who were sorry they missed it. It was the place to be that night.”

Ball shared a similar sentiment. “The most exhilarating part of orchestrating and promoting this event is witnessing the sheer delight on people’s faces as they passionately reminisce about the previous year’s festivities. It’s immensely gratifying to encounter attendees who are not just eager but practically begging for us to do it all over again, fueled by the unforgettable memories of pure fun and excitement.”

It’s clear that their passion for both boxing and the city of Worcester explode with every jab, cross, and hook that connects with its target. Ball’s dream has become a reality, and he hopes to remain steadfast in his desire to spark a similar passion for the sport in others. This event is a central conduit for that notion, and Ball expects a night just as successful, if not more so, than last year’s Punch-Out. 

“Our aim is to ignite the city, keeping its streets buzzing with excitement and its spirits high. Together, we’ll create unforgettable nights where families and friends come together to celebrate, cheer, and make a difference.”