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On the eve of this month's installment of Roughhouse Fridays, middleweight Gabriel "Steel" Duckworth backed out of his main event bout against Matthew "The Goat" Coppick.
According to Bob Haag, promoter of Roughhouse Fridays, Duckworth was not happy with some details regarding championship belts and the boxer's ratings.
"It's real disappointing," Haag said Thursday. "This was going to be a great fight, something people were looking forward to. Fortunately, we still have the heavyweight main event between Russ Stevens and Jess McCallen."
Duckworth said he was frustrated with details surrounding a proposed system that would award a belt to the current champion in each respected weight class, separate from the Southeast Showdown belts. But Duckworth also cited financial difficulties in traveling to Juneau every month to compete.
"I'm just frustrated," Duckworth said from his home in Ketchikan. "We kind of had a meeting about the current belts and everyone agreed on it. But Bob (Haag) decided against it and didn't tell us right away. But it's not just that. I told myself that I wasn't going to come up every month because its too expensive. It's tough to take four days out of our life to come here. "
Duckworth, who hails from Ketchikan, has a 6-1 record in roughhouse competition with his only loss coming against retired Victor "Lights Out" Littlefield of Sitka in last April's Southeast Showdown. Duckworth proved he would be a force this year when he won a unanimous decision over previously undefeated Juneau heavyweight Russell "Dirt" Stevens on Nov. 4.
"I know a lot of people are going to think I'm afraid," Duckworth said. "But we'll meet again. I know Matt's been training and it will still be good then. Everyone thinks we're the two toughest in that division. I just don't enjoy coming up except for the glory like it was against Russ (Stevens). Matt's (Coppick) probably pissed, but I'll be back and we'll fight in the showdown."
Coppick (5-2) took second to Littlefield at the Showdown and most recently stopped Juneau's Adam Furlong on Dec. 7. Both Coppick and Duckworth are considered by most to be the current top two middleweights in Juneau's roughhouse competition.
"I'm just disappointed because I trained for it," said Coppick, who is from Sitka. "I think less of him now. I don't see why someone's in the sport if they're going to do that. The belt is just a material thing -- it's not important. I do this because it's fun. We're not professionals by any means. I think Duckworth let a lot of people down."
Coppick, however, will still be in action tonight anyway. Juneau's Daniel "The Animal" Fink accepted the last-minute challenge and will take Duckworth's place in the ring. Fink has a 1-2-1 record, but has fought some of the tougher opponents in the division.
"It'll still be a good show," Coppick said. "Dan's got a steel head. He doesn't go down. I guess I'll have to go to the body more. He's been training hard. I'm still excited."
The fights begin tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Brotherhood Hall.
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.