By Sam DiTusa
2008 was an up and down year in Northwest boxing. Several fighters who attempted to step up in class did not fare well, but the new crop of up and comers seems promising. For the 4th year the Northwest faction of fightnews.com, voted on fighter, cornerman, and promoter of the year respectively. The winners in the three categories were as follows.
Fighter of the Year went to Idaho’s Favio Medina (20-1-1, 7 KOs). Medina won four main events during 2008 without a defeat, and defended his CAM welterweight title twice. Among Medina’s victim’s were Santos Pakau and former champion Ivan Robinson. While doing all his fighting at the Coeur d’Alene Casino in Worley, Idaho, Medina appears ready to try and flourish on the national scene.
Cornerman of the Year Award goes to Rich LeStage from Qualicum Beach BC, Canada. Rich guide’s the career of prospects Mark Woolnough and Shane Andreesen, as well as several prelim fighters just starting out. Rich always brings his fighters to the ring in excellent shape both physically and mentally, and is a master at devising fight plans. One of the traits of a LeStage fighter is that they are fundamentally sound in the basics, which is a lost art today.
The Promoter of the Year is Brian Halquist, of Tacoma , Washington. The boss at the famed Emerald Queen Casino, Brian has flourished with casino exec Frank Wright and matchmaker Bill Hunt at his side. Halquist’s “Battle at the Boat” series has come a long way since the beginning at the docked River Boat. He has had several HBO, Showtime and ESPN shows, and has mixed them in well with the regular series which features the best from around the country. Congratulations to all three recipients of this year’s awards.
Also being recognized will be our friends at boxing prospects.net, Mike Blair, Rich Baker, and Ricky Ibarra, who cover the Northwest fighters like no one else. Log on and see all the photos of area fights, results, and interesting insights by the three amigos.
The recession has hit the boxing business in our area as well. The longest running casino show, The Lucky Eagle Casino’s “Fight Night” series appears to have gone by the wayside. It seem’s strange that we will not see California based promoter Bennie Georgino at ringside here this year. Other area casinos have either cut back or discarded boxing altogether, and the days of the independent club promoter are gone. However, Golden Boy Promotions appears to be set to enter the new Snoqualmie Casino, and Art Pelullo & Banner Promotions will continue to bring TV cards to the Northern Qwest in Spokane. Also, Bob Oleson & CAM Promotions is finally getting ready to do their first show in conjunction with Roland Jankleson at the Seattle Police Athletic Assn Hall next to Boeing Field.
Nevertheless, boxing continues. A few young guns to watch this year are welterweights Jason Davis (11-2) and Dashon Johnson, middleweight Aubrey Morrow (2-0), cruiserweight Kevin Reynolds (9-1) and heavyweight Jonte Willis (4-0). The sleeper to watch in 2009 will be Mark Woolnough (21-5), who is rumored to be signing a promotional contract with Manny Sobral and his West Coast promotions group. The most anticipated amateur to turn pro in several years is Summit, Washington heavyweight Garret Simon, who has been trained and handled by Ken Smith. The two-time national champ will be managed as a pro by Ken Smith along with DiTusa Boxing LLC, and looks like he will be promoted by Art Pelullo.
The first cards of 2009 are as follows.
1/10 The Emerald Queen Casino, David Torres headlines, also Eric Fields, and Dashon Johnson in separate bouts.
1/17 The Silver Reef Casino in Ferndale, Patrick Ortiz & Ringside Ticket present Oregon’s Mike Lucero in the main event. Also scheduled are Darren Darby and Molly McConnell in separate bouts.
To all the fight fans across the Northwest and around the world, keep your hands up and your chin down. See you at the fights.