The main event of the "Roughhouse Fridays" season opener Friday night at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall was a classic match pitting speed against power.
Ketchikan's Gabriel "Steel" Duckworth, moving up from the middleweight division, used blinding speed to win a unanimous decision over the powerful Russell "Dirt" Stevens of Juneau.
Duckworth gave up nearly 50 pounds to Stevens, who stands 6-foot-5 and tips the scales at 235 pounds. But Duckworth used hit-and-run tactics to score point after point on the Southeast's heavyweight champion.
Duckworth took the upper hand halfway through the first round.
After circling the ring and feeling each other out for a while, Duckworth attacked Stevens with a blinding flurry of punches. Stevens staggered and fell sideways into the ropes and looked hurt for the first time in his boxing career.
"He hurt me in the first round," a slightly bloodied and bruised Stevens said after his fight. "He likes to throw those wide punches and I didn't even see it. He hit me three times before I could even react."
Duckworth seemed to hurt Stevens again at the end of the second round with a right that sent Stevens falling, off-balance into the corner. Stevens waved it off as nothing, but visibly looked drained in his corner between rounds.
Duckworth, on the other hand, looked determined in his corner, pounding his arms on the ropes in anticipation of the round three bell.
In the third and final round, Duckworth again used his speed to his advantage, this time to keep his distance from Stevens, who sensed the only way he could win would be through a knockout.
"I stuck to my gameplan perfectly," Duckworth said after his upset victory, "My plan was to be so far ahead by the third round, that he'd have to take my head off to win."
"He did his strategy perfect," Stevens said. "I knew going into this fight that he was quicker than me. He's the only guy I've fought that has been quicker than me. The other guys, I just get to face off with them."
"I have a lot of respect for Russ," Duckworth said. "There's a reason why he's No. 1. When it comes down too it, all of the fighters get along good."
Stevens took his first loss in roughhouse competition, dropping his record to 7-1, while Duckworth improved his record to 6-1.
"I think losing is good," Stevens said. "Now I know what to work on. I kind of had a bad feeling from the start. He was the tallest opponent I've faced and he also had the longest reach."
Duckworth, who was ranked second in the middleweight division in the Big H Ratings prior to the fight, hints of doing some more moving around in the weight divisions.
"My dad made me a prodigy and the prodigal son wants to be No. 1 in all three divisions," Duckworth said.
In the night's semi-main event, third-ranked middleweight Matthew "Goat" Coppick of Sitka won a unanimous decision over Jack Duckworth of Ketchikan, who was ranked third in the lightweight division.
Coppick, who upped his record to 4-2, came from behind and knocked Jack Duckworth to his knees in the third round with a roundhouse right.
Jack Duckworth, who changed to southpaw for the fight, came out hard after his standing-eight count, but Coppick kept him at bay.
"I was too anxious. I should have taken my time and used my jab," Coppick said. "He was fighting southpaw and I wasn't expecting that. But I think that's why I knocked him down."
"It felt good," Jack Duckworth said. "But I let my guard down for one punch. I'm feeling really good at where I'm at."
In other bouts: Amanda Harding of Juneau won a split decision over Edna Abbott of Juneau. The fight was refereed by Jill Haag, making it the first time three women were in the ring at the same time in Southeast boxing events.
Southeast lightweight champion J.R. Diamond of Juneau improved his record to 8-1 with a split decision over Wayne "Fu" Smallwood of Juneau, who is now 0-3.
Hoonah's Elijah Skeakley won by technical knockout over Andrew Swanston of Juneau.
Juneau's Jeff Regelin won a battle of newcomers by winning by technical knockout over Wayland Pound of Juneau.
Regelin earned his second TKO of the night when he challenged Sheakley after his TKO win over Swanston. Shortly after their fight began, Sheakley had to stop because of a dislocated shoulder.
Finally, Aaron Bean and Juneau's Daniel "Danimal the Animal" Fink fought to a draw. Fink's record goes to 1-2-1 and Bean, an Alaska State Trooper from Sitka, goes to 1-0-1.
Promoter Bob Haag of Big H Promotions said was happy with the near sell-out crowd and the quality of the fights.
"I'm happy with the results," Haag said. "The people in Sitka and Ketchikan seem more serious about training than the people in Juneau."
Jeff Kasper can be reached at email@example.com.
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