By Sam DiTusa
2013 came in like a lamb but went out with a bang, leaving a promise for an exciting 2014. A special thanks to all the promoters and venues which have persevered through the tough fiscal times to keep our great sport alive.
Brian Halquist and the Emerald Queen Casino’s “Battle at the Boat” series is now the oldest running show in the Northwest. Their commitment to the “Sweet Science” sustained many fans through lean years, and has remained a constant for hard core fight fans. Their signing of Zahir Raheem (35-3) has provided EQC fans with some much deserved excitement.
Likewise Ringside Ticket and Patrick Ortiz have resumed the great shows at the Seven Feathers casino in Roseburg,Oregon, as well as continuing the successful shows at the new arena at the Silver Reef Casino in Ferndale, Washington.
The area has been blessed with a number of very good prospects who have taken steps to get to the next level. Heavyweight Vince Thompson continues to improve, and Cruiserweight Mike Wilson has crept up on the cruiserweight division with a 9-0 record while light heavy Eric Dahlberg has developed a frenzied cult following while starting out his career a perfect 3-0. Cruiserweight Marquis Weston, 2-0 also shows star power as does welterweight Zach Cooper, also 2-0. Former Armed Forces and amateur standout Jeff Spencer is a diamond in the rough at 168 lbs who looks to me to be the real thing.
Then there is the turnaround of Eddie “The Boss” Hunter who after finding new trainers and management has dedicated himself and evened his record at 9-9-2 while fighting several top middleweight prospects.
On a sad note 2013 saw the passing of promoter Moe Smith who ran shows for 55 years, most recently at the Coeur d’Alene Casino in Worley, Idaho. Moe was a great friend and one of the last of the old time “boxing guys” in the United States.
And now for the Year end Awards as voted on by the area writers:
Venue of the Year Award goes to the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, Washington. A relative newcomer to the sport, this casino put on the best club shows in the area by a long shot, as well as three televised shows featuring three different promoters. A special thanks to casino execs Mike Starr and Takara Thale for their support of the boxing program and willingness to take a chance on developing area talent, which has proven very successful.
Promoter of the Year goes to Roy Englebrecht. Roy kicked off the “Fight Club Northwest” series at the Little Creek Casino (modeling it after his Fight Club OC series in California) and turned it into a wildly successful venture. With the help of matchmaker Whit Hayden, REP Inc looks to make a bigger impact in 2014. Roy’s dedication and knowledge of marketing and the fight game greatly showed as each show was better and drew larger crowds.
The cornerman/trainer of the Year Award goes to Larry “Bear” Bradley. The Bear has been a permanent fixture at Northwest arenas for 35 years working tirelessly as a cut man for thousands of fighters. He is well liked and respected, and is a good strategist as well as a cutman in the corner.
And finally, the Fighter of the Year Award goes to middleweight Mike” Imagine” Gavronski. While compiling a 13-0-1, 10 KO record, Mike has easily been the best, most exciting, and most dedicated fighter in this area in many years. His classic GBO title fight against Tristin Todd will be remembered here for a long time.
Congratulations to all the winners and all the folks and fans who make this area a hot bed for the fight game. See you at the fights.