(MAR 16) In front of a
packed and raucous crowd, Pendleton, Oregonís Kola Willingham
made an impressive entrance into the amateur boxing ranks this
past Friday night at the Heppner High School in Heppner, Oregon.
Fighting in the headline bout of The Heppner Chamber of
Commerceís eighth annual St. Paddyís Day Irish Smoker,
Willingham scored a stoppage victory over the more experienced
Siagigi Hinstatake of Warm Springs, Oregon.
Hintsatake in red top
Willingham. who comes from a Jiu
Jitsu and MMA background, was fighting in her first amateur
boxing match, although you wouldnít have known it from the way
she fought. Willingham quickly demonstrated a solid set of
boxing skills as the bout got underway, showing the results of
hard training leading up to the bout. As Hintsatake pressed
forward, firing hard right hands in close, Willingham covered up
well and used quick footwork and a stiff jab to get control of
the distance. She quickly established a solid one-two and began
to counter with her own right hands. Hintsatakeís resilient
pressure made the round an exciting one, but it was Willinghamís
higher work rate that gave her the edge in the first round.
In the second Willingham stepped
up her aggression and quickly took control of the round, letting
her hands go with determined combinations. She repeatedly
snapped back the head of her opponent with jarring uppercuts and
followed up with hard body shots. The pace intensified as the
round wore on with Willingham finding her mark repeatedly with
hard shots. By the end of the round Hintsatake was taking
punishment along the ropes and not firing back. In between
rounds Hintsatakeís corner retired, giving Willingham her first
win as a boxer.
After the bout Willingham
received a massive ovation from the crowd, many of whom had made
the short trip from Pendleton to see her fight. While her main
focus remains MMA and Jiu Jitsu, she expressed a desire to
continue to box and hopes to land another fight soon.
Hintsatake, meanwhile, remained undeterred by the small set back
and hopes to fight next weekend in Toppenish, Washington.
Twelve other bouts rounded out the undercard. In a heavyweight
bout Echo, Oregonís Jacob Easton pitched a three round shutout
over Sean Johnston of Pendleton. Hermiston, Oregonís Alfredo
Garcia eked out a close three round decision over Cove, Oregonís
Anthony Frank. Welterweights Terry Johnson, of Umatilla, Oregon,
and Pendletonís Kregg Kinder battled in a close three rounder
that saw Johnson walk away with the win. In a wild slugfest that
had the crowd screaming for most of their four round fight,
Heppnerís own Lacey Koyl and Pendletonís Vincent Thompson fought
to a draw. German Alberto Garcia stopped Jarod Koziol in the
first round. Joey Campos, of Hermiston, needed just one round to
drop and stop Johnathan Stallsworth in another 150 lbs. bout.
Pendletonís Mason Murphy came back from losing the first round
to unload heavy leather in the second. His opponent Elliot
Strouse retired in between the second and third rounds. T.J.
Kestler, of Echo, took a clear victory over Hermistonís Elijio
Mendoza in their four round heavyweight fight. Umatillaís Billy
Stewart pulled out a close three round decision win over
Boardman, Oregonís Gustavo Madrigal. The tall and rangy Johnny
Kayembe, of Hermiston, won all three rounds en route to a
victory over Hermistonís Tim Givens. In the eveningís opening
bout, Hermistonís Josue Grimaldo claimed a closely contested
three round victory over Aidan Wright of Heppner.
The card was a highly entertaining one for local fans, with
plenty of exciting match-ups. The Heppner Chamber of Commerce
did an excellent job in organizing the event, which took place
as part of the cityís 33rd annual weekend long St. Pattyís day
celebration. The city showed tremendous support for boxing,
packing the venue and cheering on their local fighters. The
Chamber will once again host another event next year.