Richie "Head Hunter" Whitson, a Roughhouse boxing newcomer with fiery redhead and even hotter punches defeated Julio "The Haitian Sensation" Gregoire during the Southeast Showdown lightweight division championship Friday night.
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Born and raised in Sitka, the 20-year-old Whitson earned the coveted prize belt and admiration of the crowd by dominating Gregoire early in round one, splitting Gregoire's eyebrow in round two and had him delivered a standing eight count in the third round to end the fight. Gregoire's explosive punches and more seasoned boxing form were not enough.
Whitson is new to Roughhouse boxing but no stranger to the ring, having trained for seven years under former Roughhouse boxing middleweight champion Victor Littlefield.
Bob Haag, Roughhouse boxing promoter, artfully crafted some exciting bouts by pairing winners of the first two fights with winners of the second two fights, adding some exhibition fights in between tournament matches.
In the first fight, Jarry Maghinay, a dishwasher at Donna's, defeated school bus driver Frank "The Grey Wolf" Coronell. Maghinay's quickness paired with Coronell's tough right jab made for an action packed bout leaving both fighters winded.
Next Whitson advanced by defeating Shawn "the Comeback Kid" Beaird in a zealous second fight. Beaird retired before the third round after Whitson landed one too many right blows.
Chuck "Ice Man" McCracken, just returning from a year in Iraq and sporting a T-shirt reading "who's your Baghdaddy," defeated mechanic Mike "The Wrench" Morris in a close matchup. McCracken's style of staying tight and then coming out swinging worked well and he poured it on at the end of the second round, securing him a showdown with Gregoire.
Gregoire advanced after defeating Wayne "Fu" Smallwood. Smallwood came out strong landing the first punch. The boxers traded head blows. Then Smallwood went down after receiving Gregoire's signature haymaker. Second-round action showcased Smallwood's spryness, even after receiving repeated blows from the tiring Gregoire. In the third round, Gregoire pummeled Smallwood to earn the knockout victory.
In other action, it was the fighting Irish when Dennis "Ruckover" Riley, an Irish schoolteacher wearing a red kilt, dominated Jon McGraw who was issued two standing eight counts in the second round. McGraw exploded with renewed determination in the third round but ended up losing on a technical knockout when he popped outside the ropes.
Thomas Ruckman a service advisor and rookie fighter defeated "Iron Mike" Edenshaw in another close bout. Ruckman's lanky body and youth overpowered the sturdy Edenshaw, who made a valiant effort with some solid rights in the third round.
Angela Day, who normally coaches the boxers from the corner, defeated Cecilia "Mighty Mouse" Williams in the only female bout of the night. Day proved how tough she is in the ring throwing multiple one-two punches. Good friends outside the ring, Williams and Day found humor in fighting each other, laughing at each other throughout the fight.
Whitson automatically advanced when Maghinay had to go back to work, bringing up the showdown between Gregoire and McCracken. McCracken stayed tough through the second round and then took a big hook by Gregoire and was issued a standing eight count.
In the third round, McCracken hit the canvas hard when he was clocked with a heavy haymaker and didn't get up again.
Heavyweight Rooney Hasselquist defeated bouncer and comedian Dan "The Animal" Fink by out-punching him in every round. In the third round, the boxers were locked together when Hasselquist spun Fink away from him like a ballroom dancer and then came after him with a big left hook.
An impromptu exhibition fight paired Smallwood with retired former lightweight champ Scott "Kid-roo" Robinson that proved to be exciting, but no winner was declared. Robinson has also been training Whitson in Sitka.
The final Southeast Showdown for middleweights and heavyweights will be held May 12 at Marlintini's.