Flames return as Johnson has got Portsmouth Guldhall set-up he wants for Shock N Awe 29

Charlie Riccard, left, fights for the Shock N Awe amateur featherweight title today. Picture: Vernon Nash (180686-005)
Charlie Riccard, left, fights for the Shock N Awe amateur featherweight title today. Picture: Vernon Nash (180686-005)

The flames will be back at Shock N Awe today. 

Promoter Gareth Johnson has ensured the trademark blazes will be present at Portsmouth Guildhall. 

The south coast’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) and kickboxing event returns for it’s 29th edition.

A stacked 21-fight card takes place at the historic building, with some of the best upcoming talent in the country on show.

Fifteen charges from Fratton’s Gym 01 are on the bill, including professionals Elliott Hoye and Gwyn Barry.

Meanwhile, Kye Stevens, Charlie Riccard, Zlatomir Emilov and Owen Kew are all in amateur title fights in their respective divisions.

Shock N Awe made it’s maiden appearance at the Guildhall in November, after previously being at the Mountbatten Centre.

While Johnson admits some weren’t completely happy with the set-up first time around, he’s worked hard to make improvements. 

And the promoter and Gym 01 head coach now believes he’s got the layout he has wanted – and it will boost crowd experience. 

He said: ‘Ticket sales have been a bit patchy because it’s an afternoon event and at the last Shock N Awe people who paid for tables didn’t have the greatest view to the cage, while the screens got lighted out.

‘But I am really looking forward to showcasing the set-up I wanted which I couldn’t do on the last event because I wasn’t sure how it all would work. 

‘I had to go down to the bare bones and I’ve got what I wanted.

‘I’ve got the raised catwalk which will be lit up, the flames and everything is going to look great.

‘I had a production meeting on Tuesday and they do all the WWE NXT and have got lots of ideas.

‘A lot of venues couldn't facilitate it but now at the Guildhall we’ve got the ability for higher-end production which will be bring in for our 10th-year anniversary show in October.’

Johnson and co-promoter, Brian Adams, have been hit with several fighters pulling out at late notice.

But there’s still a superb card on show, with plenty of charges from Gym 01 stepping up to the plate. 

And Johnson saluted those who have taken bouts with just days to prepare. 

He added: ‘People stepping in has been incredible.

‘Brian had a conversation with Brad Pickett (former UFC fighter) yesterday, who has his own promotion Rise of Champions.

‘Brad couldn’t believe how many pull-outs we’ve had and still going ahead – and we can’t.

‘Having a home show like this means you have to have a stock of fighters to be able to go to.

‘If we didn’t have that then we’d only have 12 or 13 fights going ahead.’

Tickets are no longer available online, but can still be bought at Portsmouth Guildhall box office today.