By Todd Stanford
For The Daily Item
LAS VEGAS -- Tim Boetsch hopes to begin another climb up the UFC middleweight rankings beginning Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Boetsch, a Northumberland resident who owns and operates his own gym in Sunbury, will face Mark Munoz at UFC 162. Their fight will be part of the main card, which will air on pay-per-view beginning at 10 p.m.
After going unbeaten in his first four fights at middleweight, Boetsch fell for the first time at 185 pounds last December when Costas Philippou won via a third-round TKO. The loss still irks Boetsch, who many believe won the first round before being slowed in the second by a finger poke to the eye.
"They said (the eye poke) was inadvertent," Boetsch says. "But when a boxer throws a jab with his fingers extended, you have to wonder how inadvertent it is."
Currently ranked 10th among UFC middleweights, Boetsch is hoping a win over the eighth-ranked Munoz will get him within striking distance of a title shot.
"I think a win over Munoz puts me near the top of the ladder," Boetsch says. "I could be in a No. 1 contender fight (with a victory)."
But Boetsch (16-5) knows that beating Munoz -- known as the Filipino Wrecking Machine -- will be no easy task. A former NCAA wrestling champion at Oklahoma State, Munoz (12-3) is arguably the best wrestler Boetsch has faced in the cage in the middleweight division.
"He presents a lot of challenges," Boetsch says. "He's an NCAA Division I wrestling champion. Whenever someone carries that kind of credential, you know they're going to be tough, mentally tough, determined, very strong willed. It makes for a very tough opponent.
"I think it's going to be a very difficult fight in the sense of which guy can break the other guy's will first."