By Greg Price
Four local fighters made their way to the Toefista Boxing #28 at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino in Calgary, with two emerging with victories.
Cory Matthews stepped into the ring for the first time in his first amateur fight and won a lopsided decision.
“Cory pretty handily beat his guy,” said trainer Joel Mills, out of Pro Performance Athletic Centre.
It was Ryan Harkness’ first amateur bout as well, although he showed the gumption of a wily veteran, learning as the fight wore on to will himself to victory.
“He was in a close, tough fight. He showed a lot of maturity in the ring, switching his strategy properly after a tough first round to come back in the second and third,” said Mills. “He didn’t panic. He switched up his strategy and started boxing off his back foot. He (Harkness) is a southpaw and is pretty hard to hit and is elusive. He has a nice jab. I told him to just stay on his back foot and not get on the guy’s chest. The guy he fought was a big banger. You couldn’t street fight him, you had to box him and Ryan did.”
Both Bart Zukowski and Abe Dyck suffered losses, but close ones at that.
“In my opinion, I thought Bart won the fight. Abe ran into a real tough guy from Calgary who was fast and explosive. All the Taber fighters came to fight,” said Mills. “Both fights could have gone either way.”
With three quarters of the local fighters having little to no fight experience, Mills concentrated on an extended training camp, focusing just as much on the technical aspects of the fight game as the game-shape requirements of cardio training.
“It was around three months. It was a long camp, but I wanted to teach these guys as much as I could before they got in there,” said Mills. “They put their work in and they were in shape. You want to try and make the movements instinctual, especially in your first fights which could turn into as many as 50 to 100 fights. It is so hard to think in there because there is so much adrenaline pumping. That’s why boxing training can be so boring at times, because you are hammering into the same stuff, the same stuff, but you want to do that because you want to get it to the point that it’s instinctual and you just react.”
While the fight card was in Calgary, you couldn’t tell by the crowd and vocal support of Taber fighters.
“It was crazy. Taber, we are slowly becoming a powerhouse in boxing and I think everyone in Alberta boxing can sense it. We have the best fans. When you have fans like you have in Taber at the fights, it’s hard not to be a powerhouse in boxing. It makes the kids want to fight harder, it makes everyone want to partake in these events outside of Taber. The guys frim Calgary and Edmonton want to be involved, because they know it will be a fun, memorable night,” said Mills. “The crowd makes the fights. Some people were making jokes that the other fights were sort of awkward because it was so quiet. We (Taber fighters) were not up until the seventh fight, and some said fights one through six were like crickets. The Taber fighter then came out and the place flipped on its head. That’s your Taber support for you, there’s so much passion, it’s awesome.”
Taber amateur fighters will be featured at Toefista Boxing Series 31 on June 30 at the Taber Arena.
“We have a stacked lineup of eight fighters from Taber and six top fighters from Lethbridge,” said Mills.