On Sept. 17, The Lyric opened its doors to the community and re-introduced this quaint city to an entirely different form of Saturday night entertainment: a fight night.
Oxford is well known for its active arts scene with venues that bring concerts and plays alike to the bustling downtown area. With events like Double Decker and the very active Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, there have been a wide variety of singers and performers who have taken the stage.
However, thanks to TCB Fights, the Square can now bring boxing back to its repertoire.
Retired fighters Codie Shuffield, owner of Hit Fitness in Oxford, and Grady “Sue” Hurley, owner of Ultimate Fitness MMA in Tupelo, are the co-owners of TCB Fights.
True to Hurley’s roots, the fight promotion company took off and had its first show at the 2021 Tupelo Elvis Festival and was named after the king’s tagline “taking care of business.” Since then, the promotion company has gained traction, fighters and exposure within the boxing community.
“One reason why we came up with TCB Fights is that nobody was putting on fights in North Mississippi,” Hurley said. “There was MMA so if you were an MMA fighter you had plenty of people putting on shows, but if you wanted to box in North Mississippi, you didn’t have an outlet or a place to perform, you’d have to travel out of state. It meant so much more to me as a fighter when I was fighting, and I know it does to them, to be able to compete in front of your friends, your family and your hometown.”
One of the biggest takeaways from the fight night was the sheer energy of the crowd. Like Hurley mentioned, the fighters’ support system extended beyond just their corner and into the audience.
“When you’re actually here and you’re surrounded by the crowd … it’s like electricity, you can feel it,” Hurley said. Everyone watching picked an opponent to root for during each of the six match-ups, and no matter where they were standing, whether it was in the balcony or mere inches away from the stage, the audience was fully present and engrossed in what was happening before them.
Aside from offering a unique and engaging experience for the spectators of TCB fights, the company also offers a haven of sorts for up-and-coming boxers to practice going against opponents.
“I feel like we’re protecting the local fighters in a sense,” Hurley said. “We’re offering a safe way that the local fighters that want to box know that they can box locally and that five or six times a year there will be a boxing show in North Mississippi and they know they won’t get fed to the sharks.”
Boxer and main event Mike Casey walked away from his rounds as a victor. Casey, originally from Wisconsin, moved south to New Albany, Miss., to gain a sense of peace and surround himself with a warmer and friendlier community. He has been training out of Hurley’s gym, UFM, for a year.
“I got into boxing honestly just to change myself,” Casey said. “When I was younger I was insecure and wasn’t confident in myself, and I got into this to build my confidence up and be more disciplined and just see where I’m at as a person and challenge myself. I used to care a lot about what people thought of me, and once I got to this I knew I could potentially do something great with it, and I feel that I’ve become a much stronger person.”
Without the support from the community, the events that TCB Fights puts on would not be possible.
“We get a lot of love from Tupelo and Oxford, from the other small businesses and sponsors who help and support us, and we could not do this without the support of the sponsors,” Hurley said. “With just ticket sales, you can’t make something like this work, you have to have the help of the community.”
After being in the ring for a little over a year, TCB has already had the opportunity to expose many novice boxers and audiences to the world of boxing.
“I always tell people just come and watch an event one time, and when they come and watch it, they’re like ‘Wow, that was a fun time. It was something different,’ and they don’t regret doing it,” Hurley said.
For more information and a look at future events, you can visit the TCB Fights website.