'Mean Machine' is ready to rumble

Al "Mean Machine" Valentine works up a sweat while training on Wednesday. Valentine came out of retirement on a day's notice to box and lost a heavyweight decision match to Thor Soder in early November. The two will box a rematch tonight at Roughhouse Friday's in Marlintini's Lounge.

There is a storm brewing at Marlintini’s Roughhouse boxing. Not a winter storm, more like a duck your head and run for cover ringside seat storm of sweat and blood. The kind of storm that makes the inebriated swear off bad habits when they see it hit. The kind of storm that makes scantily clad ring girls wish they were back home for the holidays when it lands.


“Let me put it this way,” Southeast Showdown heavyweight champion Al “Mean Machine” Valentine said as he threw punches out into the night. “I think the out come will be different from last time.”

That last time Valentine, 52, referred to was a Nov. 4 loss by decision to 19-year-old Thor Soder from Kau Hawaii at Centennial Hall’s Beatdown.

The decision was not the most popular at ringside.

“He is a good fighter,” Valentine said. “He has good skills and comes from a boxing family. Judges said he won.”

To discover Valentine was even fighting that night was a surprise to many in the boxing community. Valentine came out of retirement to fight one last time on May 6, 2011, at Roughhouse Friday’s Southeast Showdown. Valentine was the big draw, main event and top attraction all rolled into one.

Matched against Ketchikan’s lightning fast Tyson “Cane” Duckworth (35-44-1), Valentine went the distance and had the younger fighter hanging on for dear life.

Valentine stated then he was old and wanted to watch his daughter grow. He had fought professionally in Anchorage, Los Angeles, Atlantic City, N. J. and Las Vegas. He wanted to help other fighters by training them or sparring with them. He said he would only come back for a championship fight if it could be put together and they gave him enough time to get in shape.

“I wanted to help them out,” Valentine said of his decision to fight early this month at the Beatdown. “They called me the day of the fight, desperate for a heavyweight. It turned out he was a lot tougher than I expected.”

Valentine is a big old teddy bear to the stable he trains and a ‘stand up fighter’ to the men he boxes and who organize local fights.

“It was by points,” Valentine said of the decision. “He is a tough young man. It was three rounds. Three hard rounds. He is a good, schooled boxer and he has good people behind him.”

Roughhouse Friday boxing promoter Bob Haag sees new fighters every year and thinks Friday’s main event between Valentine and Soder will be one for the ages.

“I have been doing this for over 40 years,” Haag said. “Some young men see boxing as a way to future stardom, that is the case with Soder. If he wins this bout I will be bringing in top fighters from Anchorage.”

Haag thinks Soder has the makings of a great heavyweight. Soder is 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds of youthful muscle.

“I want to see how tough I am,” Soder said. “I have not been beat yet.”

Said Valentine, “It is going to be a good one. I am sure it will be a different outcome. I don’t have a choice but to take it to him. There are two things I know that are crucial; that I can hurt him more than he can hurt me, and that this is going to be a good fight and I will have to go through him to win.”


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