Bellaire's Josh Fisher left the 2012 Ohio Valley Toughman Contest with a sour taste in his mouth.
The former Big Red athletic standout had lost a very close split decision that he thought he had won. However, two of the three judges at ringside didn't think so.
Some things were said after the decision was announced that created some sparks, but cooler heads prevailed.
T-L Photo/KIM NORTH
BELLAIRE’S JOSH “The Juice” Fisher, right, receives congratulations from referee Dave Johnson after winning the light heavyweight championship at Saturday night’s Ohio Valley Toughman Contest in Wheeling.
Saturday night inside Wheeling's WesBanco Arena, "The Juice" redeemed himself by winning the light heavyweight title during the 33rd annual event.
And the 26-year-old, 177-pounder did so in convincing fashion, with a TKO of Bridgeport's Chaz "Seaweed" Johnson 38 seconds into the second round of the championship bout.
"It feels great. It feels great," Fisher admitted moments after leaving the squared circle. "I worked hard and I've got a lot of good coaches.
"I thought I won that match last year, so I wanted to come back and get a big win this year."
Fisher, who trains out of The Bullpen Fight Club, knocked Johnson down once towards the end of the first round with a flurry of punches, and finished the fight with a combo that sent that 19-year-old former Bulldog crashing to the mat.
"End it in style," Fisher said with a laugh. "I didn't see him fight in any of his earlier bouts, so I just went out and fought my fight."
Other winners included Moundsville's "Mad" Mark Coss; Wheeling's Eric "Sizzle" Bledsoe and "Killer" Kenny Wilson; Louisville, Ohio's Amy "Biker Girl" Zwick; and "Freight Train" Sasha Hendrickson.
Of that group, Wilson was the lone repeat champion. The 5-9, 139-pound 29-year-old won the lightweight title when New Martinsville's Josh Korns couldn't answer the bell for the third round.
Coss, a 255-pound 20-year-old, stormed back in the final bout of the night to earn a close, but unanimous decision over Jack "The Hammer" Silla, of McDonald, Pa. Silla, a 28-year-old 223-pounder, finished runnerup for the second straight year in the heavyweight class.
Bledsoe truly had to earn his title as he fought four times Saturday night in the crowded middleweight division. In the finals, the 5-7, 158-pound 23-year-old outlasted former Cameron mat standout Tucker "Downtown" Brown, a 5-10, 157-pound 27-year-old, in another close, but, unanimous decision.
In women's action, the 5-8, 156-pound 30-year-old Zwick, a civil engineer, took out Wheeling's Cellise "CC Hardcore" Roxby, a 22-year-old nurse, in a unanimous decision in the middleweight classification.
Finally, Hendrickson, a 5-6, 137-pound 32-year-old, boxed her way to a unanimous lightweight nod over Moundsville's "Crazy" Casey Wood, a 5-4, 139-pound 26-year-old.
Hendrickson, who wore trunks with Jordan's Gym on them, is reportedly the niece of the very first Ohio Valley Toughman champion Gary Wallace, who was in attendance and recognized by Promoter Jerry Thomas, who also resides in Wellsburg.
Speaking of Former Champs
Rich "The Hammer" Huffman and Chuck "The Iceman" Woods were also brought into the squared circle and introduced to the large crowd, which gave them a standing ovation. Huffman won the title in 1984, with Woods prevailing seven years later.
Saturday night marked the 29th anniversary of their title fight, which Huffman won.
New Scoring System Introduced
With the number of participants on the rise, Thomas, who is president of West Virginia Sports Promotions, found a need to decrease the time spent between fights.
The Clarksburg native and resident came up with the idea of each of the three judge's scoring the fight after all three rounds have been contested. Instead of using the old method of writing down the winner of each round and then passing the paper along to the referee, ping pong paddles were used. Each one had a black side and a yellow side.
Each fighter is designated yellow or black depending on which corner of the ring they are assigned. The judges then flipped the colored-side of the fighter they won to the announcer, which is none other than Thomas, who then informs the crowd.
It may sound complicated, but believe me, it wasn't.
In fact, it turned a 5-to-6 hour show into a 4-hour night of entertainment, which the crowd seemed to enjoy as "Cadillac" Jim Stallings kept the crowd alive with various songs and sound affects over the sound system.
I liked the change because it sped up the process..
I can't wait for next year - the 34th in the "Friendly City."
Rights and Lefts
Alexis (last name not provided) won the Ring Girl contest, which was decided by crowd participation. She beat out seven other beauties. You had to see it to believe it!
There was a record number of Toughman entries this year in Wheeling at 191. According to Thomas, that is a record for any venue that he holds Toughman in across the Mountain State.
However, of that number only 120 passed physicals, or showed, up Friday night. There were 56 bouts that night, with 47 finishing up the two-night event.
Stay Tuned for More Fight Details
The Times Leader will be releasing several big announcements concerning local fighters and gyms in the next several weeks.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org