Twenty-four of the toughest roughhouse boxers from across the Southeast Alaska will begin a quest tonight in hopes of being crowned champion in the Second Annual Southeast Showdown.
The preliminary rounds begin at 7 p.m. tonight at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, with the semifinal and final rounds following at 7 p.m. on Friday night.
"This is going to be real big," roughhouse promoter Bob Haag of Anchorage's Big H promotions said. "We have the best and toughest boxers from all over the Southeast and it's hard to say who will come out on top."
The boxers are divided evenly into three weight classes, with eight boxers in each -- lightweight (up to 164 pounds), middleweight (165-194 pounds) and heavyweight (195 pounds and heavier).
All three belt holders from last year's Southeast Showdown will be in action in an attempt to hang on to their Southeast titles.
Lightweight champion, J.R. Diamond of Juneau, will have his hands full with one of the strongest classes of the Showdown. Diamond has not fought since November's 'King of the Ring' competition, where he was knocked out by Hoonah's Elijah Sheakley in the second round.
Sheakley, a fan favorite, will be unable to compete in the Showdown due to an injury, but Tyson Duckworth will be healthy and ready to go. Tyson Duckworth, the lightweight from Ketchikan, knocked out Sheakley in the last 'King of the Ring' roughhouse competition in March and looks to be one of the favorites to dethrone Diamond.
Other lightweight fighters include: Sean DeMello of Sitka, Jack Duckworth of Ketchikan, Jay Feliciano of Juneau, Fred Harris of Juneau, Fernando Pintang of Juneau and Rudy Vonda of Juneau.
The Southeast's middleweight champion -- Victor "Savage" Littlefield of Sitka -- is coming off his first career loss to Ketchikan's Gabe Duckworth in last month's 'King of the Ring' competition. Duckworth came on the roughhouse scene in January and holds a 3-0 record, including his decisive win over Littlefield.
"Victor says he's ready," Haag said. "He said he wants Duckworth in the first round and he's going to knock him out."
The rest of the middleweight ranks include Matthew Coppick of Sitka, Randy Dennis of Juneau, Daniel Fink of Juneau, Bill Lee of Sitka, Shahram Talaei of Juneau and Scott Webster of Juneau.
Heavyweight champion Russ "Dirt" Stevens of Juneau will look to improve on his 5-0 record with three K.O.'s and stay undefeated.
"I wish big Jess McCallon was going to be here," Stevens said. "Now, if I win, everybody will say that I won but I didn't fight Jess."
The 300-plus pound McCallon, who holds a 2-0 record, has other obligations and will not be able to participate in the Showdown. But a host of other heavyweights will surely vie for chance to take home the title headlined by Thomas "Heavy Hands" Ferry of Ketchikan and newcomer Patrick Fagg of Juneau.
Ferry holds a 1-2 record, but has already fought some of the best competition, losing to Stevens in February and McCallon last month. Fagg, who helps out with the Juneau-Douglas Amateur Boxing Club, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 270 pounds, could be a darkhorse in the heavyweight class.
"I'm most worried about Patrick," Stevens said. "He's never fought but he could be real tough for me. He's big and strong."
Other heavyweight entries include Ernie Ackerman of Juneau, Gerald Austin of Juneau, Jerome Dennis of Juneau, Al Garrison of Juneau and Sean Sheakley of Hoonah.
Four women have entered the Showdown to fill out a small female bracket that has already been set. In a battle of the unbeatens, Petersburg's Laurel McCullough will battle Juneau's Marjorie McKeown. And in today's other women's bout, Angela Day of Juneau will take on Angela Decker of Juneau.
In all 28 fighters from the Southeast will compete for over $6,000 in prize money, with the winners taking home a cool $1,000 along with a brand new Southeast Showdown championship belt. Each entrant is required to complete a physical examination as well as pay a $150 entry fee.
"What I like best about the whole show is the boxers' attitudes," Haag said. "It's hard for the boxers to get over the mental stress, and some have to deal with transportation, but they still all have great attitudes."
Jeff Kasper can be reached at email@example.com.