It’s not often that a local athlete gets to compete on a national stage, but at age 26, Billy “The Kid” Wagner is set for his second professional fight against Alexis Espino at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday, May 4.
“We had a ranch south of town after we’d moved back, and Billy wanted to check out the boxing club,” Billy’s dad, Bill Wagner, said of his start in the sport. “He stuck with it. I went to all his fights; he had around 80 amateur fights. Frank Kipp worked with him until Billy moved back to Great Falls.”’
Billy says he worked with Frank Kipp at the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club from the age of eight until he was 11. “I got around 40 fights with Frank, and then when I was 11 we moved to Great Falls,” Billy said. He stayed there until he was 17 when he moved back to Browning and worked with Kipp until he was 24.
“He always treats us with respect, that’s all I can say; he tries hard,” Kipp said. “Each of my brothers has had something to do with him, but Emmett [Kipp] went the farthest of all of us. He would say, ‘Billy is the son I never had.’”
Currently living in Great Falls, Billy coaches boxing at the Electric City Boxing Club. “Now I’m 26. I turned pro in 2018 and won my first fight in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and I was offered to fight the undercard middleweight, the first fight to start the night off in Las Vegas,” he said. Billy’s opponent, Alexis Espino, is rated number-one in the world at 164 pounds, or “super middleweight.”
“I’m very proud of his taking on this bout,” said Kipp. “He’s a good father and husband and provider. Everything I hold dear, he is.”
“He’s a really nice kid,” Bill Wagner said, “humble, respectful of elders. He likes to hunt and fish and go horn hunting, but he’s dedicated to his sport. He has a daytime job, and then he trains nights and weekends. If he wins, it could mean a possible contract with trainers in Vegas.”
In addition to his upcoming bout, Billy had 80 amateur fights and won the Montana Golden Gloves five times. He also won the regional Golden Gloves twice, and he’s been to the nationals twice as well.
Saul Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs are the main event that evening, but Billy “The Kid” Wagner will start things off at 5:30 p.m. local time on DAZN.