A host of fighters, trainers and fisticuffs fans from the far reaches of B.C. descended upon Two Rivers Boxing Club last Saturday (Nov. 24) to be a part of Rumble 25.
The card featured 11 bouts and showcased boxers with a wide range in experience, skill, size and age but very similar determination and courage.
Ten Quesnel boxers got the chance to put their training on display for their friends and family.
The youngest Two Rivers competitor of the evening, “Iron” Emmett Emblau, faced off in a wild-west shootout of a scrap versus Oakley “Irish” Fitzsimmons from Parksville.
Although he was not able to come away with his hand raised against a very difficult opponent, Emblau put on a great show and the bout was awarded Fight of the Night honours.
The crowd went ballistic as the two traded combination after combination for the entire three-minute affair.
Fitzsimmons seemed to have the better stamina out of the two fighters however, and was able to beat Emblau to the punch a few too many times in the latter halves of the rounds.
“At the beginning of the rounds I could focus and see his punches and counter,” said a clearly exhausted Emblau in the dressing room after the match. “I found it really hard to catch my breath though, as I’m getting over a cough and a sore throat. But every time [head coach Wally Doern] yelled telling me I can do this, it gave me encouragement.”
His foe for the evening was still riding high long after the match was done, bouncing around the gym and throwing combinations at the air.
“That’s the best I’ve ever done,” Fitzsimmons said, a huge smile covering his face.
‘I’ve been training really hard on the basics and I love being aggressive in the ring.”
On getting Fight of the Night, he added: “It’s the best feeling ever!”
A special co-main event preceded the Fight of the Night, featuring Prince George’s Jag Seehra against Nick Young from Fort St. John in a three-round senior open exhibition match.
As talented as many of the other competitors were, the two national level 155 pounders put on a striking clinic. They showed control, balance, speed and precision that wowed the crowd.
“It’s always a pleasure to fight in Quesnel,” Seehra, a multiple-time national medalist said. “It’s great to support the shows; they’re always a hit.”
His opponent on the night aims to make a similar mark on the national scene, and hard work is the name of the game in order to do so.
“I’m working out every morning, getting my runs in, doing my strength and conditioning and then going to work, going to the gym, going to bed and doing it all over again,” Young said.
He credits the small local cards with giving amateur boxers the chance to improve themselves.
“They’re so important. As a young fighter you can get a winning streak going when fighting on these cards, and then you go to a bigger show and you’ve got all that confidence behind you as well as the experience. It’s amazing.”
Local first-timer and Two Rivers stalwart Kyle “Crusher” Anderson lost a decision to Fort St. John’s Lincoln Pomeray, a very experienced fighter with a clear reach advantage.
He was frustrated early by his opponent’s long jab and opted for a tight defensive shell, which ended up obscuring his vision, allowing Pomeray to dart from side-to-side for follow up punches.
Although he may have lost the fight, Anderson never backed down and consistently moved forward round-by-round, searching for a one-two combination to land, so he could get inside his opponent’s guard.
“He had perseverance and put the pressure on him,” said Anderson’s coach and cornerman, Cam Tetrault. “I was very proud of him.
“It’s quite a feat to step into the ring with a gentleman that knows what he’s doing. I think he did amazing.”
The remaining Quesnel boxers put on similarly courageous performances.
Despite it being listed as an exhibition match, one of the most entertaining (and bloody) fights of the night was a barnyard throw-down between Noah Kennedy and Owen Crossman.
The pair have had plenty of recent experience battering one another in the Two Rivers ring, and they stepped it up for an audience that was going hoarse from yelling.
Kennedy started the fight throwing well from a distance and punctuating his combos with looping hooks.
While Crossman sustained a bloody nose in the second round, he showed his tenacity and started landing some nice counter punches as the match progressed.
Things might have appeared heated between the two, but Kennedy said they left it all in the ring.
“It’s all love afterwards,” he remarked while strutting around the gym after the card. Asked if he would ever fight again, he responded quickly.
“100 per cent.”
Another sparring match that drew the attention of many was a fast-paced technical exhibition bout between some of the most promising women coming out of Two Rivers.
Darby O’Hara faced off against Camille “Dynamite” Logan in the second match of the evening.
It seemed as if there more punches thrown in the first round of this bout than there were the rest of the evening.
O’Hara had a size advantage going into the fight and was in exceptional shape, but Logan had the ring experience, making this match a terrific back-and-forth.
The more deliberate of the two fighters was certainly O’Hara, who stuck to the basics; using her reach and punches down the pipe to frustrate Logan early.
Once Logan got settled, however, she was able to use some of her patented movement as well as some left-handed craftiness to glide in and out and pick her punches.
“I watch [Two Rivers star fighter] Britynn all the time,” she said, when asked about her footwork after the match. “Her movement is inspiring.”
Ryley O’Hara, Darby’s older brother, led off the evening’s card against B.C.’s oldest competitive boxer and Two Rivers assistant coach, James Mott.
It was a lively match, with O’Hara landing some clean power shots, looking to take some of the wind out of a very fit Mott’s sails.
A cardio machine who constantly pushes a pace in the gym, Mott was undeterred and pawed away at O’Hara, often rushing in against his larger opponent and eating the odd uppercut for his troubles.
While perennially unlucky scrapper Chris “The Beating” Heaton was once again cancelled on by an opponent, he did get an opportunity to show his family and friends the skills he has developed as a fighter in another exhibition against team mate Evan Peever.
Peever, the winner of Rumble 24’s main event, is an accomplished boxer, who has taken some time off of training but stepped in as a last minute replacement to help out his club.
He still performed very well in front of the home crowd, many of whom were calling for his opponent, Heaton, to throw his scary, overhand right knock-out punch.
Both fighters exhibited a lot of control, however, and respected each other’s power and skill, while still keeping things entertaining.
Rounding out the card were four out-of-town matches.
Preston Riley from Lillooet took a decision in a lively match versus Fort St. John’s Landon Beasley.
Andrew Michel, also of Lillooet, lost a brutal back-and-forth brawl to Williams Lake’s Joey Helminger.
Williams Lake team mates Dana Matthews and Kevin Petrykhen put on a solid exhibition match.
Brayden Sims and Arlan Zarate of Fort St. John also boxed in a skillfully fought exhibition.