Two Yukon boxers will remember their first bouts for long time. Their opponents might not remember them too well.
Whitehorse’s Brittni Waddington and Dave Quesnel logged knockout wins in their first career fights at Alberta Golden Gloves in Stony Plain over the weekend.
They both left with silver medals following losses in the gold medal matches.
Just having Waddington enter the ring was a win for Boxing Yukon.
“She’s the first female boxer we’ve had in over 10 years to actually compete,” said Boxing Yukon head coach Jess Staffen. “Maybe 15 years, now that I think about it.”
“They both had spectacular first matches,” he added. “In the gold medal matches they lost to boxers with a bit more experience. But great, great fights for both of them.”
Waddington, 23, won her silver in the women’s 60-kilogram weight class.
She defeated Ashley Dyer of Spruce Grove, Alta. by knockout in the second round of her first fight.
“It was a hard fight though,” said Waddington. “I was really nervous going into it, but I felt like I did everything I could up to that point. Dave and I both trained really hard and ate really good for a few months. We cut the weight and fasted and everything. It all ended up paying off for that fight for sure.”
Waddington lost the gold medal bout to Calgary’s Jessica Sparrow. The fight was called in the third round due to a bad nosebleed, possibly an aftereffect from her first fight in which she also had a nosebleed, said Waddington.
Her 1-1 amateur record was achieved after taking up the sport less than half a year ago.
“I obviously wanted to win both (fights), but winning one is good for now,” said Waddington.
“I heard about it through my mom – she was coming here for the workout – and I was just tagging along. And I ended up wanting to know more about the boxing side of it,” she added. “Jess asked me if I’d be interested in competing. I didn’t think much about it at first, but once I felt myself getting better and stronger, I thought, ‘Why not?’
“I’ve basically fallen in love with it.”
Quesnel, 26, also won his first fight in the second round – by technical knockout. He claimed silver in the 81-kilogram weight class.
“I’m happy with a silver. Obviously I would have liked to come home with a gold, but for my first two fights, there’s nothing worth complaining about,” said Quesnel. “I got to experience all of it: I got to experience a TKO in the second and to go all three rounds in the second fight. So I got to experience how tired you feel after a whole bout and I know a fight should never be left in the judges’ hands.”
Quesnel beat Cody Banner of Grande Prairie, Alta. by TKO for his first career win. He then lost by split decision to Philipp Enderoff from Blue Ridge, Alta., after going the distance.
“The first fight I got hit maybe two or three times. The second fight was more technical,” said Quesnel with a bit of a shiner under his right eye. “Both of us had TKO’d our opponents the day before, so it was the best against the best and it came down to the judges’ call.”
“I’m happy with how everything turned out and excited to move forward – excited for my next fight,” he added.
It might not be long before the two fighters are back in the ring. Both Waddington and Quesnel hope to fight at next year’s nationals, which would require them each to have a total of 10 sanctioned bouts under their belt. Eight fights in 12 months is a lot for any fighter, but they seem determined.
“Just keep getting fights, keep learning,” said Quesnel. “Jess can move me forward as far as I can and I might go to nationals next year … Same with Brittni.”
Quesnel has been training “off and on for three years, but I’ve been taking it a lot more seriously since I got to the Yukon. I’ve been away living in Alberta for about five years and I just moved back on Halloween.”
While Quesnel has advanced his boxing skills since moving back to Whitehorse, Waddington is considering a move away to elevate hers.
This weekend Waddington will begin an 11-day training and nutrition program at Club de Boxe de L’est (East Boxing Club) in Montreal, Que. The club is home to 2015 Pan American Championships gold medalist Caroline Veyre, who is also the Canadian women’s champ in the same weight class at Waddington.
“They invited me to come stay in their gym for a trial period to see if I have potential to do well in boxing,” said Waddington. “If they think I should pursue boxing more seriously I was considering moving down there.”
Boxing Yukon, which currently has about 50 members, has seen a resurgence of competitive boxers over the last few years. Yukoners won a total of six medals at two separate Alberta Bronze Gloves tournaments last year alone.
“We’re getting a really good reputation down south for bringing down quality boxers,” said Staffen. “Good boxers, too. None of them fight dirty; they are all nice, clean, polite boxers.”
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