Anchorage boxer Johnny "The Cobra" Tauton gave Juneau boxing fans and Ketchikan's best leather-gloved fighter Tyson Duckworth one of the year's best technical matches in the showcase bout during Roughhouse Boxing on Friday at Marlintini's Lounge.
"He's game," said Tauton, 28, 148 pounds, who won by decision. "He was holding my body and hooking me with shots - not dirty but ... he's a great fighter."
Tauton (132-11-1) has the experience of eight pro bouts in Las Vegas, while Duckworth (35-5-0), the reigning Southeast champion, had a seven-pound weight advantage.
From the start, Duckworth, 30, tried to keep Tauton in his grasp and while The Cobra tried to press the attack. Clinches and holding during the first round by Duckworth left the score even, and the southpaw Tauton visibly agitated at what he called "cheap shots on the breaks," one getting his attention as it glanced off his forehead.
Tauton began to pick away with his right jab in the second round, continuing to press the action, and would slide under Duckworth's counter punches to connect on the body. Duckworth only let Tauton throw one shot each foray before he tied the quicker fighter up and backed him into the ropes.
Tauton stayed patient in the final round as Duckworth tired. Waiting for punches to come from his opponent, Tauton advanced and timed 1-2 combinations to the head and body.
Both fighters raised their arms in victory at the bell, but Tauton carried most of the action in the fight for the win.
"It's hard to get a decision here," Tauton said. "I stayed busy. I brought the fight to him. I think I am a little wiser than he is. I was tired but I know how to control it. I only had three days of training for this bout. I will gladly give him a rematch. This is what I do; this is my job."
The undercard featured Juneau favorite Rudy "No Introduction Needed" Vonda (57-11-45), 46, 135 pounds, challenged by one of his biggest fans from Ketchikan, Fred Grant Jr. (2-3-0), 28, 160 pounds.
"He's a legend to me," Grant, a UAS student, said. "I expected him to be 10 feet tall. I was shocked when I saw him."
Vonda's love of the sport and experience made up the roughly 30 extra pounds Grant carried. Vonda, who won by decision, stalked the younger but slower fighter across the canvas and around the ropes in Round 1, willingly taking a few punches as he landed shot after shot.
Vonda had Grant against the ropes most of the second round as well, and when Grant tried to counter punch toe-to-toe in Round 3, Vonda dazed him with a combination body and head shot that forced a standing eight count at the bell.
The best blow of the night came from Angoon's blaster Bailey Johnson (6-0-0), 24, 160 pounds, over Juneau's Aaron Tucker (17-5-0), 21, 175 pounds. Bailey, a Southeast champ and Goldbelt employee, ended the fight in the third and final round with a full body-backed punch into Tucker's gut that had the Craftsmen Construction worker gasping in the towel.
In a preview of up-and-coming fighters, Eric Moy (3-1-1), 18, a 165-pound Sitkan and his best friend and training partner, Juneau's Luis Garcia (2-0-1), 18, 141 pounds, gave the fans non-stop action. Both fighters were staggered and each went down once. Both threw leather until the final bell, resulting in tired hugs of admiration in a draw.
Hoonah's 187-pound Charlie Gallant, 21, improved to 42-4-0. Gallant took on two opponents during the evening, opening with an MMA win over 231-pound Oregonian Patryck Willis (2-2-0), 21, a Super Bear meat man, and a victory over Juneau's 180-pound Brian Lauth (10-5), 20, in the undercard of the finals. Gallant and Willis held each other with neither going to the canvas before Lauth succumbed to Gallant's longer reach and conditioning.
Idaho's 169-pound Akeem Micheli (1-0-0), 26, stopped Atlanta's 176-pound Robert Smith Jr. (0-0-1), 24, with a shot to the mouth in the second round, causing excessive bleeding. The medical staff of Jeff Lacey and Tricia Myers had to retire him for the night.
San Diego's Austin Quintero (1-0-0), 18, 192 pounds, overpowered Juneau's Jason McDonald (1-2-0), 34, 185 pounds. Quintero's mother watched her son's first MMA bout, featuring him in top position, and McDonald countering from his back. McDonald withdrew with a knee injury at the first-round bell.
The most disappointing bout of the night featured Prince of Wales' 230-pound "Crown Royal" Hudson (4-5-0), 20, getting a decision over California's 219-pound Geraldo Lopez (0-1-0), 21. After much pre-bout hype, Hudson was content to take hard shots and deliver softer ones, yet got the win.
"I am a little bit out of shape," Hudson said. "I have been hit pretty hard before, so this was nothing."
Contact Klas Stolpe at email@example.com.