By Hector Longo
---- — SALEM, N.H. -- Forget July 4, or the family camping trip, heck, forget summer.
“Friday night is the highlight of my summer. It’s huge,” said Jesse Kattar. “An event like no other. We’ve been looking forward to this for a long, long time.”
Somebody ought to let the 31-year-old Methuen fire fighter know that summer doesn’t officially kick in for another week.
Tonight, though, Jesse and about 500 friends, family members and acquaintances unofficially dubbed, “Calvin’s Crazies,” have their night in the spotlight at Rockingham Park’s sports bar.
Their ultimate-fighting “Colossus,” Methuen’s Calvin Kattar, gets turned loose in the cage in a main event of Combat Zone MMA’s “Steel Cage Fighters” card.
Kattar, now 13-2, will fight against Brazilian Gabriel Baino, who hits the cage with a perfect 5-0 record.
For Kattar, it’s yet another huge step. He continues to pound down the door to UFC and the world of pay-per-view big time fights.
For the “Crazies,” it’s another chance to worship their warrior, the pride of the Valley.
“There’s just nothing like it,” said Jesse, who is Calvin’s cousin. “You’re hanging out with you friends, people you know, hundreds of them, and then Calvin comes out, and the place goes insane, like nothing you’ve ever seen. The kid’s just an animal, and we go nuts.”
Kattar is by no means alone.
Shane Getchell has been to all 15 of Kattar’s fights, travelling as far as New Jersey. In each bout, he says, it’s almost like the switch just flips.
“You really can’t compare it to any other sporting event,” said the Methuen 25-year-old. “It’s like the room gets a giant shot of adrenaline. So much, so fast. And the wild thing is that nobody knows what’s about to happen next.”
If you’re getting the impression that Kattar’s flock feels like it’s right there in the cage with him, you’re right on. They certainly do.
Most importantly, they all feel like part of his life, and love to have him as their representative.
“He’s such a hard-working kid, and we all have seen what he pours into this,” said Jason Haddad, who puts the business suit and the office attitude aside to transform into one of Kattar’s loudest supporters on fight night.
“It’s Calvin. He has all those qualities you want to root for. The kid has never taken a single shortcut. And nothing has ever been given to him.”
And while the long-timers, like Getchell and the boys, have been there from the start, Calvin Kattar’s in-cage presence and performance, have drawn the newbie fans by the dozen with each vicious beating he inflicts.
“When he smells blood, he really gets after them,” said Haddad. “It’s he got the nickname (The Boston Finisher). He has that attitude, whatever it takes.”
Added Jesse Kattar: “He’s an animal. He’s so dangerous. He can do it in so many ways, but that uppercut ...”
That menacing, short and savage, right upper-cut, has eviscerated his last two victims and is purely lethal.
By now, it’s routine. And the “Crazies” know exactly what to expect tomorrow night at the Rock.
“We’ll all get there pretty early and have a few drinks,” said Jesse Kattar. “And then, we just wait. By now, we know he’s the last fight, and I’m sure the butterflies will be building up ... in all of us.”
But late into the evening, Calvin hits the cage.
“And the place will be wild,” promises Getchell. “It has to be. That’s just how he likes it. That’s why we’re there.”
FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS AT ROCK What is it: Combat Zone 44 "Steel Cage Fighters." A night of action from inside the cage, featuring local pros and amateurs. The main event: Methuen's Calvin Kattar, one of the top fighters on the East Coast with a 13-2 record is challenged by 5-0 Gabriel Baino of Brazil. Tickets: Range from $40-$120 and can be purchased at the door tonight. Bell time: Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the first fight slated for 8 p.m.