Sunday, January 18, 2009

Reigning champ falls in Friday night fights

Angoon's Johnson surprises Juneau's "Red Baron" Tucker

Twenty-two-year-old Bailey Johnson, of Angoon, shocked the packed crowd at Marlintini's Lounge Friday for the monthly Roughhouse fights. Johnson picked up an electrifying victory over 2008 Roughhouse Southeast Showdown Champion 19-year-old Aaron "The Red Baron" Tucker, of Juneau.

Johnson (1-0-0) began racking up the points early in round one, using his longer reach to tag the more-experienced Tucker (8-1-0) with lefts to the head, while dodging the champ's huge haymaker attempts. Tucker came out tough in round two but soon walked into a big left hook from Johnson, who followed with a hard left-right combination to Tucker's head. The champ was hit with a second standing eight-count.

The tables appeared to turn in round three, as Tucker sent a stunned Johnson to the mat, and a standing-eight count of his own from referee Joe Isturis, with a stinging left haymaker. Johnson was able to recover, however, sealing the win with a heavy leather left hook that brought the crowd to their feet for the underdog.

First-time-fighter Denise Bennett, 25, defeated Michelle "The Waitress" Macasaet, 23, in a split-decision fight with an edge. Bennett was randomly paired with Macasaet, who Bennett claimed damaged her car during a street fight with another girl downtown last summer. Bennett was the aggressor from the bell, but both boxers appeared gassed out by the end of round one. The fighters gasped their way through round two, but Bennett was able to pick up the win in round three because she "was looking for a payback," she said.

Nick "The Nightmare" Morgan defeated Roger "Barcode" Booth IV in the only mixed martial arts fight of the night, using the full length of the three 3-minute rounds. With one MMA win under his belt, Booth said he "studied Morgan and called him out to fight."

Booth, who took his fight name because of the barcode tattoo on his head, tried unsuccessfully to drop Morgan to the mat with repeated kicks to the knee, and the fighters spent the majority of the bout on their feet. Morgan was able to maneuver Booth into several headlock grips, but "Barcode" proved to be a good escape artist and the close bout was ultimately decided by a split decision.

Heavyweight fighter Inoke Topui, 21, defeated Hoonah's Eric Larsen, 20, whose 79-year-old grandmother showed her support by being the ring girl for the fight. Both boxers weighed in at 215 pounds for the fight. Topui went on the attack from the opening bell, but was unable to seal the win until the third round when he got Larsen pinned against the ropes and delivered a pummeling that left Larsen with a bloodied nose.

Randy Willard, 23, defeated southpaw fighter and childhood friend Shawn Guthrie, 21, in an evenly paired fight that went the three-round distance. Willard was able to take round one after using his longer reach to out-point Guthrie. The action broke even in the second, however, as both boxers gassed out. Willard's reach eventually gave him the advantage in round three again, as he picked up the win.

With a record of 2-0-0, Brian Lauth, 18, remained undefeated with his win over first-time-fighter Gabe "Reachum" Meachum, 21, after Lauth exploded from the bell and tagged the newcomer with a hard shot to the head. Meachum hung on through the first round, but the fight was called after he was issued two standing eight-counts in round two.

Al "Mean Machine" Valentine, 48, tamed James "The Beast" Roberts Jr., 23, of Klawock, in a one-sided bout that showcased Valentine's decades of fight experience. Roberts went into the bout saying his strategy was to "keep moving and try not to get knocked out." Roberts kept his head down and his arms swinging, but Valentine, standing largely with his arms at his side, took the win with his lightning-quick head tags.

Sitka's Selena Slack, 25, brought her record to 3-1-0 with her win over first-time fighter Alexa Elisof, 24, of Juneau. The first two rounds went to the more-experienced Slack, and the fight was called in round three after Slack's left hook came alive, proving too much for Elisof. Slack said her win was "all about my experience over my opponent."

Hoonah's Mitchel Zarazua, 19, defeated Yakutat's Don "Damn Yaki" Johnson, 47, in a fight featuring a considerable age difference. Johnson was hit with a standing-eight-count in round one after an inital hard flurry of hits from the younger Zarazua. Referee Isturis called the fight after the second standing eight-count was issued to Johnson in round two.

The next fight night will be Feb. 13 at Marlintini's lounge.

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