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That young boxer who started roaming around the Babcock Theatre eight years ago is now all grown up and ready to make his debut fight Friday night.

Mark Chesmore, now 18, started out tagging along with his dad Lem when the elder Chesmore served as the referee for Club Boxing’s first two years of the then-weekly fights.

As a 10-year-old amateur boxer, Chesmore would sit in the corner and yell encouragement and advice to the fighters and throw punches while doing so. A couple years later, he would open the ropes as the card girls entered and left the ring. More recently, Chesmore occasionally served as a corner man for the fighters.

A couple of times Chesmore shadow boxed in the ring to show the fans his skills before taking a trip to a national amateur boxing tournament. The fans threw money into the ring to support the then 12- to 13-year-old Chesmore and help finance the trip.

This Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Babcock, he will be taking on veteran club boxer Adrian Rivera in a 135-pound Magic City Boxing bout. Rivera is a two-time state qualifier and was the state lightweight runner-up in the 2007-08 season.

“I’m way excited. I am a little nervous, but not really,” Chesmore said of his first semi-pro bout. “I am ready for this. A lot of people have wanted to see me and Adrian fight, so we will do it. It gives us both some experience fighting each other. It will give people an opportunity to see the different styles in boxing.”

Chesmore has been amateur boxing since the age of eight and has been to the National Silver Gloves tourney three times and the Ringside Worlds four times. Many of his trips to nationals ended up in Kansas City, Mo. He also once went to the Police Athletic League tourney in California.

Now, Chesmore fondly recalls the few short years ago when he sat ringside and cheered on his favorite Thursday Night Fights competitors, saying, “I got into them. I enjoyed them. They were pretty intense. I’ve liked watching boxing since I got started.”

As for finally turning 18 and getting the opportunity to climb between the ropes and duke it out himself at the old, comfy theatre, Chesmore said, “I am excited to fight there. A lot of people that know me are interested in watching me fight. They have been wanting to see me fight and now their chance is here.”

Chesmore’s future plans include fighting a few times at the Babcock and then trying his hand at the professional game.

Another featured fight on this Friday’s card will be longtime club boxer Darius Yellowtail against John Bublich at 170 pounds. Yellowtail, a tough and durable fighter, has not boxed downtown since the end of the 2007-08 Club Boxing season. Bublich scored a unanimous decision in the feature fight at 170 pounds against Nick Roberts last week.

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