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Kola Willingham Impressive in Boxing Debut, Stops Hintsatake In Heppner, Oregon Smoker
Story and Photos by Ricardo Ibarra
March 16, 2015

(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.

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