The headliner of Saturday’s professional boxing event at Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport still has to shed a few pounds before he enters the ring for his first bout since February.
Limberth “Limbo” Ponce, 27, decided to take a break from fighting for about six months to spend more time with his wife and three children. About two months ago, however, Ponce rededicated himself to the sport he picked up as an 11-year-old. He began eating healthier (more salads), running in the afternoons and sparring at night, dropping about 25 pounds in the process.
Standing at 5 feet, 8 inches, the 160-pound middleweight fighter will take on Demetrius Walker of Kansas City, Missouri, at “All In,” the first boxing show ever held at a casino in the Quad Cities. The fight card, being promoted by Hola America, Alien Boi Boxing and Calkins Sports Productions, also features local boxers Joe Perez, Eddie Hamilton, Shawn West and Carlos Barbosa.
The collaborative effort aligns with the ongoing Q2030 regional action plan, which aims to help develop and elevate the amenities that give the Quad Cities a cool and unique sense of place.
“I’m excited about it,” said Nile Peña, Ponce’s coach and gym owner in Moline. “I think the Quad Cities has always been a hotbed for good boxing talent, so I think the fact that we’re getting in with the casino is a step in the right direction.”
The new $110 million Rhythm City Casino Resort opened in 2016 near the interchange of Interstate 74 and Interstate 80 and includes a 1,500-seat events center.
Ponce, nicknamed El Gallito, or little rooster, in the ring, enjoys boxing because it keeps him in shape. Managing his training regimen, though, plus a full-time job at Dohrn Transfer Company in Rock Island and a growing household, is challenging.
“I know it (boxing) takes a lot of time away from my family,” Ponce said this week before one of his evening sessions at Peña’s gym. “There’s not enough time in the day to do everything.”
But living in the Quad Cities, surrounded by his large extended family, has helped.
Ponce emigrated from Acapulco, Mexico, to Moline with his family when he was nine years old. In 2012, the Moline High School graduate received protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Ponce’s DACA permit allowed him to get his driver’s license and his current job. In 2016, he married his wife, Kaitlin, and together they own their family’s home in Bettendorf. In the future, he hopes to secure his U.S. citizenship.
Ponce is the type of person everyday Quad Citizens can relate to, his coach said.
“He stays out of trouble, and he works hard,” Peña said. “That’s the kind of person the community can root for.”
The first of six bouts begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets to “All In” are available at www.rhythmcitycasino.com.