Yukon boxing fans got a rare treat this weekend as top young athletes descended on Whitehorse for the Western Canadian Boxing Championships.
The FH Collins gym filled up with more than 300 people on Saturday night for 13 bouts. Sunday’s crowd was a little thinner for nine fights.
Four Yukon boxers, Troy Malcolm, Kevin Mendelson, and brothers Adam and Jarrod Nolan put on the gloves against some tough southern competitors.
Adam Nolan had the only Yukon win of the weekend, against BC’s Josh Profit in the over-91-plus kilogram weight class. Nolan won by judges’ decision after a solid match, which put him into Sunday’s gold medal fight.
The last fight on Saturday was Jarrod Nolan’s match, also in 91-plus kilos. It ended with some controversy after the judges’ decision went to BC’s John Campbell.
Nolan knocked Campbell to the canvas in the second round, and landed several strong flurries, although technically Campbell scored enough points to win it.
The audience didn’t take the result well, with loud boos. There was even a chair hurled at the ring.
It set the stage for a dramatic final, with Adam Nolan meeting Campbell in the over-91-plus, gold-medal fight the next day.
These heavyweights didn’t disappoint, it was a real slugfest with Campbell getting bloodied in the first round.
Both fighters connected with strong combinations, and Nolan stumbled once and was knocked down in the third round.
“I got knocked down, he stunned me, and I saw him coming in,” said Nolan. “Instead of eating 10 more haymakers, I thought I’d stay down and get my bearings back and keep fighting.”
Nolan took a hard shot after he got up, and the referee called it at that point.
“I was hoping to pull out a knockout against Johnny there — it didn’t work out,” said Nolan. “I guess I’ve got to learn to keep my hands up a little better against a guy that’s 210 (lbs.).
“I think I had’em rocked a couple times, but it doesn’t matter when the fights stopped due to punches on me.”
Nolan accepted the silver medal.
Troy Malcolm also came away with silver in the 75-kilo class.
After going the distance in matches against Alberta’s Eric Tevely and BC’s AJ Hazi, Malcolm lost both fights by judges’ decision.
Sunday, Malcolm admitted his first fight wasn’t what he hoped it would be.
“Yesterday was difficult, you always have that nervous feeling in your first fight,” he said. “Second time I wanted to try something different, so that’s what I did.”
Malcolm’s performance was good enough to get him silver, and he was happy to do it at home.
“It’s good, you know, a lot of familiar faces and people cheering you on… hometown boys. A loss is no biggie when you have a crowd like that backing you.”
Mendelson’s match on Saturday was stopped by the referee, after BC’s Korbin Nikolai surpassed the 20-point spread limit.
“When you consider the experience they have, they did very, very well,” said Harvey Reti, Yukon Amateur Boxing’s head coach.
“In a year, we’re lucky to get two or three fights at most.”
Reti knows his game. He boxed for Canada at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
“As with all boxing tournaments, a guy can defeat himself psychologically, so you’ve got to be careful of that part — getting too hyper, too tense — that happened to one of our boxers.”
In the end, Reti was pleased with his fighters’ performance.
“These boys did well, it’s their first fights in amateur boxing, their intiation fights.
“When they got in the ring, they never gave up — they did the best they could under the circumstances.”
Western Canadian Boxing Championships – Medalists:
Gold – Rob Cusine, AB
Silver – Ken Lally, BC
Gold – Blake Anderson, AB
Silver – Shane Hubeshd, BC
Gold – Alex Rose, AB
Silver- Mellad Rahimee, AB
Gold – Angus McNeely, AB
Silver – Jeremy Gerard, AB
Gold – Stewart Twardzik, SK
Silver – Esteban Cruz, AB
Gold – AJ Hazi, BC
Silver – Troy Malcolm, Yukon
Gold – Anthony Louison, SK
Silver – Mike Cartwright, BC
Gold – John Campbell, BC
Silver – Adam Nolan, Yukon