On Friday night at Roughhouse boxing in Marlintini’s Lounge, no one will see Al “Mean Machine” Valentine who describes himself as “a heavy bag with eyes” absorb the daily punishment of three boxers throwing jabs, hooks, and straight power shots into his flesh.
No one will see female boxers Edna “Wildflower” Abbott, Samantha “Thunderbird” Coronell, and Selena Slack doing one-minute sprints, followed by a “rest” of push-ups and sit-ups, another minute sprint, another rest, repeat, repeat, and collapse.
No one will see how cornerman Charles “Chas” Kidd, with more than 2,400 bouts aided writing Abbott’s 20-page plan for tonight’s fight.
No one will see promoter and ring announcer Bob Haag, his phone bill approaching the national deficit, contacting other fight camps, looking for anyone willing to risk hitting the canvas against this stable of fighting greatness.
What fans will see is Abbott emerging from what the group hopes is part of a training program for future Juneau pugilists and into the ring against Janelle “The Native Knockout” Brennan, a Navajo from Arizona.
Haag rates Abbott as one of the best females in the state.
“Oh yeah, she is tough,” Haag said. “Could be the toughest in the state if she had enough fights. With the team we have assembled and with Al and Chas, and Selena and Samantha, maybe she will.”
Haag promoted a fight for Valentine in 1981 in which the Mean Machine lied and gave his age as 21, instead of 18. Valentine won by knockout.
Valentine, with more than 160 fights, is not only serving as the recipient of punches for the boxers but is also coming back to defend his heavyweight Southeast Show Down title against Ketchikan’s Tyson Duckworth. Duckworth holds the lightweight and middleweight belts and wants to be come the first three-weight winner.
Three fighters from Ketchikan, two from Sitka, five from Hoonah, and two from Anchorage, including Haag’s grandson are signed up for the Showcase. Valentine last won the Showcase in 2006.
“The training with Abbott right now is going well,” Valentine said. “This is the best I have ever seen her look, that is the straight up truth. I have never seen her train harder.”
Kidd was originally scheduled to work the corner for Brennan but on March 21 Valentine and Haag asked him to serve as cornerman Edna as Brennan was adding a professional ex-fighter as her coach.
“You should see her train,” Kidd said of Abbott. “She does things I have not seen from a woman. And Al and I think alike. He actually fought out of my corner in one fight.”
Coronell (1-0, 125 pounds), 19, and Slack (7-2-1, 162 pounds), 27, are being groomed for whatever fight they can get. Abbott’s last fight was a defeat four years ago.
“I definitely feel ready,” Abbott (6-3, 115 pounds), 38, said. “I think about the time invested and those who supported me, especially my trainers here. I use certain things to motivate me, like my mother who has been through so much ... and my daughter and my son. It’s overwhelming, and at the same time exciting. Boxing keeps me focused and motivated.”
Abbott has more fights than Brennan, but also has the rust of not finding opponents willing to step into the ring. Haag said no Juneau girl has ever won a fight against someone brought down from Anchorage but Abbott has a niche.
“She’s a southpaw,” Haag said, using fight jargon for a left-hander. “The style is unorthodox. We know what Wildflower does and she is fighting in her backyard and Brennan is a good boxer with steady time in the ring.”
So how do you box a good boxer?
“We have a detailed plan,” Kidd said holding up a inch-thick book designed specifically for Abbott against Brennan. “We have some pretty good strategy to win this fight.”
“When they box, we brawl,” Valentine said. “Styles make fights. These two will be exciting.”
“There is no time to find a true style in the ring,” Haag said. “Roughhouse is three rounds fast. The town has no idea of the caliber of fight they are going to see. We are breaking the ice with Edna and then will get some bouts for these other girls. We are going to win.”
In the background, as Haag and Kidd look on, Valentine yells out numbers and the trio of Abbott, Coronell, and Slack in turn pound punches into his body and gloves. Four fighters echoing different goals toward one purpose, to win, to enjoy the sport, to build a dream for future fighters.
• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.