Jeff Emmett joked his shaky final round was just to entertain the crowd. The punchline was they had already been cheering all night.
Emmett defeated Geoff Hewlett of North Vancouver’s Griffins Boxing by decision in the main event of Fight Night 2 on Saturday.
The fight capped a year to remember for Emmett. The Nelson boxer won his first Golden Gloves title in June before downing Hewlett to the applause of his hometown crowd, who packed the Nelson District Rod and Gun Club.
“I’m so proud and it’s been a good year,” said Emmett. “So many fights have cancelled on me and this year a few of them came through and things worked out and I’m really happy.”
Emmett’s three-round, 81-kilogram Masters Open fight against Hewlett was the finale to a 10-bout evening that saw three victories for fighters from the Nelson Boxing and Athletics Club. But after forcing Hewlett to take a knee in the first round and controlling the second, Emmett was on the ropes in the third.
“I didn’t expect him to come out as well as he did,” said Emmett. “He’s got a lot of heart and he kept coming. He did land some good shots in the third.”
There was plenty of heart in the ring throughout the evening.
Nelson’s Ryan Lewis, fighting in his first ever bout, roared out of the corner against Revelstoke’s John Gowanlock. Lewis trapped Gowanlock and bloodied his nose, which put his opponent on the back foot for the remainder of an entertaining contest.
“I think I was a little overexcited and I came out pretty strong,” said Lewis. “I was pretty tired towards the last couple rounds, but it obviously paid off for me.”
Lewis is just 19 years old and has only been boxing for about a year. But he looked like a natural en route to the decision win against Gowanlock.
“You’re definitely scared going in. It’s just natural. It’s scared but excited, so it’s just trying to calm those nerves when you’re going in there.”
Elia Martinez, meanwhile, appeared to be in a mismatch against North Vancouver’s Aaron Madriga. The Nelson boxer stalked Madriga around the ring and unloaded combos at will before taking a decision win that was never in doubt.
The lone knockout of the event saw Nelson’s Bohdi Cartland on his back.
Cartland punched the helmet off of Kelowna’s Joe Armstrong of Thistletown Boxing Club early in what turned out to be a quick bout. Neither fighter seemed inclined to protect themselves, and the vicious affair ended in Armstrong’s favour with a flurry of punches that had Cartland slow to rise off the mat.
The evening opened with Nelson’s Riel Martinez fighting Cranbrook’s Dylan Muhlig in an exhibition rematch of their first meeting at the first Fight Night in May.
Nelson’s Krishan Lysenko, who has been boxing on and off for nine years but only just joined the local club full-time last week, faced Kelowna’s Danica Dreyer in one of two women’s bouts. Lysenko said she was happy with how the exhibition went.
“It was good to get back in and warmed up,” she said. “I know there’s certain things in my mind that I could have done better. That was all right. It was fun to move around.”
North Vancouver’s Parsa Bisheh, despite only being as tall as his opponent’s shoulders, left the ring grinning after earning a technical knockout against Kelowna’s Brandon Emerick. Clive Fagan of Kelowna and Revelstoke’s Connor Null fought a high-paced exhibition in the penultimate bout that saw both fighters high-five at the end out of mutual respect.
In other exhibitions, Cranbrook fighters Alexia Hansen and Sierra Pearson squared up while Salmon Arm’s Dom Barbosa took on Kaden Swanson.
The event was the culmination of a turbulent year for the Nelson Boxing and Athletics Club, which held its first card in May as a fundraiser to send its fighters to the Golden Gloves tournament. Jesse Pineiro’s club had just been evicted from its previous location and there was doubt it would survive.
Instead, the club relocated to the old Summit Gym location on Baker Street last month and has already seen a rise in membership.
“What a show. Holy moly,” said Dave Brett, the owner of Griffins Boxing. He said he was delighted to see the sport’s seeming resurgence in Nelson.
“I take my hat off to Jesse. Jesse and I have known each other for many many years. He’s fought at Griffins and he’s coached at Griffins and just to see him progress through starting a club in a dingy place and opening up his beautiful location that he has right in downtown Nelson is just spectacular. I’m incredibly proud of him.”