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Friday the 13th
By Katherine Dunn
June 16, 2003

Friday, June 13th, 2003, Chinook Winds Casino,Lincoln City, Oregon.  Promoter: Top Rank;  Matchmaker: Pete Susens
Ringside Physicians: Dr. Luis Rios, Dr. Ron Shear; Referees: Jim Erickson, Dave Hagan, Jeff Macaluso; Judges: Greg Baker, Robert Flamme, Trevor Lewis, Denis Ryan; Regulation: The Siletz Tribal Athletic Commission

I’ve decided to blame Bob Arum for the Friday the 13th horror show at the Chinook Winds Casino. In letting the casino and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz off the hook, I’m giving them credit for their first fight card, back on December 4 of 1999, when they hosted the excellent HBO broadcast of Fernando Vargas vs Winky Wright and Diego Corrales vs John Brown. That was promoted by Ringside Ticket, Inc run by Patrick Ortiz.

Then the Siletz held the respectable if non-scintillating May 31, 2002 show staged by Sugar Ray Leonard and featuring the 197 pound James Toney stopping Michael Rush in the tenth round. The casino also rates kudos for hosting a series of brilliantly competitive amateur boxing shows over the last year or so.

But this Tonya-Butterbean vom fest was a Top Rank/Bob Arum throwaway. Garbage, but good enough for the hicks out in Oregon. We can only hope the Casino doesn’t buy any more of Arum’s rotting pork carcases. Oops, too late. Arum pet, Robbie Knievel was introduced in the ring that night and grabbed the mic to ramble on about how he loved Native Americans and…maybe…it’s not quite clear… the magical properties of cocaine? Let’s charitably assume he was either drunk or drugged. He announced that he’d just signed to jump over a record number of Pepsi Trucks on his motorcycle in the Chinook Winds parking lot in August.

Lesson…Arum is a snot-bottling promoter. He doesn’t give diddly about the sport of boxing. He sells what’s saleable. P.T. Barnum with a Harvard law degree.

Which brings us to another of Arum’s pets, Butterbean, the King of the Four Rounders.

We’ve learned to live with the Bean. He’s a jovial animal act and for all I know may be a nice man. Arum puts him in with hapless nobody’s and Butterbean does what he does. This time it looked like this:

Butterbean steps into ring...

4 Rounds, heavyweights
Eric "Butterbean" Esch, 325 lbs (Now 64-3-4, 49 KO’s) of Jasper, AL stopped Troy Roberts, 229 lbs (Now 9-9,7 KO’s) of Vancouver, B.C. at :54 of the first round.

Roberts went down twice from the Bean’s sweeping right
ham to the head before the ref stopped it. No surprise there. What was a tad alarming was the sight of the ringside physicians merrily snapping souvenir photos at ringside rather than checking out the KO’d Roberts. The distractions of celebrity, no doubt.

But Tonya Harding?

Can’t you see the Top Rank folks telling the casino guys, "She’s the most famous female Oregonian and this will be her first time fighting in her own state.  Everybody will want to see her."

No mention, of course, that a lot of the locals think the notorious Harding is a blight on the neighborhood. The Chinook Winds crowd booed her entrance, booed her win, and booed her exit.

Only the "Sports" reporters are surprised that Tonya can’t box. The fight folk had already guessed. The result sheet looks like this:

4 Rounds, Bantamweights
32 year-old Tonya Harding, 121 lbs (Now 3-1, 0 KO’s)
of Vancouver, WA won a unanimous decision over 24
year-old Emily Gosa, 117 lbs (Now 0-1) of Sulligent,
Alabama. All three judges scored it 40-36 for Harding.

The night after the Friday 13th show, CBZ Associate Editor Lucius Shepard wrote:

"...ESPN Sportcenter tonight did the expected with the Tonya fight. Made fun of her and managed at the same time to make fun of women's boxing AND boxing in general. Thanks, Bob A."

Meanwhile, writers around the country were waxing colorful at Tonya’s expense. In Portland, Brian Meehan hit The Oregonian’s front page with indignation….."The slight Gosa and the short, square Harding offered the picture of a middle school girl battling a lunch lady."

And they’re all right. Tonya looks like she’s been on the Tony Galenta beer diet. Pale flab was oozing out between her trunks and her top. Whoever recorded 117 lbs for Gosa and 121 lbs for Harding is dreaming.  Everybody in the room could tell that Harding out-weighed the teeny Gosa by at least twenty pounds.
And Harding was exhausted by the end of the second round.

Gosa, who works in a pawn shop and has two children, started learning to box two months before this fabulous debut. She apparently thought it all had something to do with cheer leading so she danced and waved and smiled, as cute as a bug. It’s lucky Harding can’t box. If she’d known how to throw a single punch, she might have hurt Gosa. Fortunately she just mauled
and wallowed for four rounds.

It’s not surprising that some penny-ante promoter talked the broke and desperate Tonya into the ring and provided her with a "trainer" who couldn’t teach spit to fall. And it’s no surprise that Bob Arum is willing to make use of this rolling catastrophe.

It could even be interpreted as part of Arum’s campaign to destroy women’s boxing. He’s often said he doesn’t approve of
it and won’t promote it. But he’s glad to offer a little T&A joke for the crowd. He signed Lucia Rijker thinking she was a gorgeous babe in a red dress. When it turned out she was also a helluva fighter he swapped her for Playboy cover girl Mia St. John. When
St. John betrayed him by gradually, painfully learning to box a little, she was cut loose. Now, here’s Tonya. Do we see a new Arum pet in the making?

The rest of the Friday the 13th card looked like this:

10 round main event: Heavyweights
Orlin Norris, 210 lbs (now 54-8-0-1, 29 KO’s) of
Lubbock, TX stopped Troy Weida, 229 lbs (now
41-15-2-1, 30 KO’s), of Kewanee, IL at 2:27 of the
third round. A TKO win for Norris.

During the last decade, Orlin Norris has been in with, and lost respectably to, a Who’s Who of the heavyweight division. Now, at the age of 38, he says he’s going back down to cruiserweight because he’s tired of battling monsters. In what may have been his last bout as a heavyweight, Norris looked solid and
healthy at 110 lbs. On a squalid night of mis-matches and hype, Norris provided a brief glimpse of smart, classy boxing against a sturdy journeyman. Norris used crisp, clean combinations in
extended flurries to drop and hurt Weida in the second
round and stop him in the third. A barrage to the head in the third round left Weida still on his feet but stunned as referee Jim Erickson called a merciful halt to the proceedings. This main event got no publicity since the entire focus was on the four-round freak shows.

6 Rounds, Super Welterweights
Reggie Davis, 156 lbs, (now 7-1, 4 KO’s) of Portland, Oregon stopped Cebien St. Pierre, 152 lbs (Now 7-18, 3 KO’s), of Las Vegas, NV at 2:56 of the 4th round. TKO win for Davis. St. Pierre looked a smidge better than his dreadful record suggests, and he had an awkward presentation, bent at the waist and coming in at crab level. Davis had an excellent amateur career and is
improving as a pro. He kept his head and handled the St. Pierre problem in a methodical way.

6 Rounds, Super Middleweights,
Billy Thompson, 167 lbs (Now 7-2, 4 KO’s) of Lubbock, TX won a split decision over Victor Branson, 163 lbs (Now 4-6-1, 2 KO’s) of Willamina, OR. One Judge scored it 58-56 for Branson, The other two judges saw it as 58-56 for Thompson.

Branson hits hard if you’re still in the way after he phones in advance notice of his intention to throw. Thompson got the message and dealt with it.

4 Rounds, Featherweights
James Ramos, 133 lbs (now 1-1, 1 KO) of Salem, OR stopped Luis Chavez, 132 lbs (Now 0-1) of Portland, OR at :54 of the first round. Ramos can box a little bit. Chavez can’t.



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