At the end of 11 hard-hitting amateur boxing matches, the crowd at ANB Hall was restless in anticipation as the season's first Roughhouse Friday came down to a disputed decision in the main event between Matthew "The Goat" Coppick of Sitka and Neil "The Razor" Rodriguez of Anchorage.
Coppick, the reigning Southeast Showdown middleweight champ, emerged victorious in a decision that drew a mixed reaction from fans and Rodriguez.
"I think I won the fight. I think he thinks I won the fight," said Rodriguez. "When the crowd boos the decision, that says it right there."
Coppick said it was his "will to win" that was the factor in the decision.
"I've got a big heart and I didn't stop fighting," he said.
The two slugged it out for three two-minute rounds, with each clearly connecting on numerous powerful shots.
"It was a very close decision, and it was a very difficult decision, but I don't think that Rodriguez got cheated in anyway," said Joe Isturis, who refereed all 11 matches. "What I saw was The Goat connecting with more punches. ... The Goat was consistently throwing more punches."
Friday's event was the beginning of a new season of Roughhouse Friday boxing, put on by Bob Haag and Big H Promotions of Anchorage.
"You have to agree, it was just a great show," Haag said. "And it's set up so it's the guy next door who's fighting."
Men of different ages and prize-fighting experiences laced up their gloves to battle for cash and respect in what Haag calls the "really real sport." The first 10 fights were scheduled for three one-minute rounds of heavy-hitting amateur action.
With the exception of the main event and semi-main event, the fighters were vying for a $150 cash prize, with $50 going to each loser. The main and semi-main events were each fought for $250 in cash, with $100 going to the loser.
"Roughhouse just creates a chance for people who want to try boxing," said Haag. "We've actually created some superstars."
Jerome "The Tlingit Warrior" Dennis, a crowd favorite, fought Butch McClinton. Dennis won after McClinton went to his corner in the middle of the second round from an apparent low blow, which left him unable to return.
Roughhouse Friday boxing results
Bout 1: Curtis Davis defeats Damian "Devil Dog" Lawrence
2. Frank Duckworth def. Clint Davis
3. Ricky Huffman def. Al Garrison
4. Jessiah Baker def. Allen Reynolds
5. Kenneth Schoonover def. Greg "Diesel" Taylor
6. Chuck McCracken def. Porter Treadway
7. Jack "Hammer" Duckworth def. Dan "The Animal" Fink
8. Bryan Mayville def. Alfred Torres
9. Jerome "The Tlingit Warrior" def. Butch McClinton
10. Scott "Kid Roo" Robinson def. John Smith III
11. Matt "The Goat" Coppick def. Neil "The Razor" Rodriguez
"The crowd loves the good fights as long as you keep it in the ring," said Dennis. "As you can see, the crowd loves The Tlingit Warrior. ... The fans are what really pump up The Tlingit Warrior. If you don't have the backup of the fans, you might as well get off the stage."
Jack "Hammer" Duckworth improved his record to 6-3 with a victory over Dan "The Animal" Fink, while his brother, Frank Duckworth, won in his debut match against Clint Davis.
"It was a good day for us, my brother got his debut," said Jack Duckworth. "We both got good hearts and good attitudes."
Haag said that people of Juneau have really embraced the sport and Roughhouse Friday, which is in its fourth season.
"Juneau, the fighters, the city, the atmosphere - it creates a special charisma," he said. "You don't see fights like this in Anchorage."
The second event of the Roughhouse Friday boxing season will be held Dec. 13 at ANB Hall.
"You cannot see this stuff on HBO," said Haag, "and the next one's going to be even better."
Eric Morrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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