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Champions crowned at Toughman

Jan. 13, 2013 @ 01:02 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Noise levels reached their highest Saturday night for the first and final championship bout in the 25th Tri-State Original Toughman Contest at Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Ashley Grizzle of Portsmouth, Ohio, started the finals with a first-round TKO over Kaitlin Moore of Logan, W.Va., to cap a 3-0 weekend. Grizzle's support was huge at the outset and continued to grow through the competition.

The fans who remained in their seats for the heavyweight final got behind Dustin Ryan of Ashland, who put on a game effort the final two rounds to prevail over Rashawde Myers of Huntington. Ryan forced two standing 8-counts in the third round and then Myers stopped, resulting in a TKO and the vocal fans got even louder.

"Blocked it out until it was over," said Grizzle, who tipped the scales at 282 pounds in the heavyweight division. "It meant a lot to hear that."

This was Grizzle's first Toughman show.

Three other champions were crowned and one championship didn't change hands.

Trent Blankenship of Coal Grove won the lightweight title by split decision over 2012 champ Brandon Kitts of South Point in all-Ohio matchup.

Deron Keeton of Huntington, who finished runner-up in the middleweight division a year ago, atoned for that as he boxed his way to a decision over Justin Clark, who also is from Huntington.

Melvin Russell of Greenup, Ky., nicknamed "Romantic Redneck", collected the light heavyweight title with a decision over Charles Whittington of Huntington.

Men's champions received Toughman jackets and $1,000. Grizzle got a jacket and $750.

The pro bout Saturday didn't come off as advertised. Bobby Thomas of Oak Hill, W.Va., was supposed to defending his West Virginia cruiserweight title against Warren Browning of Lenore. The fight was scheduled for 10 rounds.

Thomas didn't make weight. He came in at 204 1/2 pounds, so promoter Jerry Thomas informed the crowd the fight would now be in the heavyweight class and cut to four rounds.

Thomas neutralized Browning's power and scored consistently with a left jab and rights to the head. At the end of the second round, Browning (17-3) appeared to be in trouble. He didn't answer the bell for the third, so Thomas (12-1) got credit for a second-round TKO.

Thomas is now 2-0 in Toughman shows at Big Sandy. He knocked out Cullen Rogers in the first round in 2011.



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