Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 27, 2013

Boxers, MMA fighters come together for unique chance

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

CANNONSBURG — Kentucky Welterweight Champion boxer Travis Hanshaw divulged his former thoughts on mixed martial arts fighters.

“I used to hate MMA guys,” he said with a grin. “Now we’re all brothers.”

In what some might view an unlikely combination, local MMA fighters and boxers have collaborated to bring forth an unprecedented event. On Saturday night at Boyd County Community Center, both a boxing ring and an MMA cage will take center stage. Called Double Impact, the event is the first of its kind, according to Tom Hanshaw of East Coast Promotions.

“We’ve had both in the boxing rings, but never in a boxing ring and a cage at the same time,” Tom Hanshaw said. “It should be a real exciting night, no fight’s going to be a gimme. If they don’t fight, they’re going to get their a-- whooped, flat out. It should be a good night of wars in every ring.”

MMA veteran and Team Evolution organizer Spencer Fisher, Brian Knipp, Tom Hanshaw and others have worked together over the last few months to assemble this show, which is slated to consist of 10 MMA fights and five boxing matches.

Travis Hanshaw and Dominique Foster will do battle in the main boxing event. Ryan Shank and Mike Seals will tussle in the main MMA event.

Some of the area boxers are Tom Hanshaw Jr., Cory Phelps and Colt Phelps. Other MMA fighters include Bill Yates, Bobby Kouns, Jason Pritt, Lloyd Phillips, Rodney Perkins and Will Stamper.

There will also be intermission grappling matches featuring Gunnar Gearheart, JC Crance and Brad Wiler.

Experimental training among a concoction of MMA fighters and boxers has done wonders, said Tom Hanshaw. His gym has been a hopping place over the last few months.

“You might be in shape for MMA, but you can’t breathe in boxing,” he said. “Mix the two, and you’re in top shape. So far, this has worked great.

“We’ll see how much it’s going to help their fighting ability,” he added.

Each side has gained appreciation for the other.

“Boxing is all about feetwork, handspeed,” Kouns said. “In MMA, there are more ways to defend yourself. I have a different respect for boxing than I did before.”

Travis Hanshaw even took part in a recent kickboxing session with the MMA guys he used to avoid.

“Us boxers became really close with all these guys,” Travis said. “Bill (Yates) runs with me every day. (Kouns) trains with me all the time.”

Much of the local MMA training takes place with Fisher or Phil Clark in the forms of No Ghi traditional, Muay Thai and Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, among others.

“What I love is, there are no egos — they’re left at the doors,” said Yates, 28, of Grayson. “We’re one big family between everybody. It’s all about learning.

“We’ve put in a lot of hours for this one,” he said.

Yates and Kouns, a 30-year-old from Flatwoods, have been involved with MMA for about a year. Yates is 1-1, while Kouns will make his debut.

“When we train, there’s no holding back,” said Tom Hanshaw. “They leave (Hanshaw’s gym) bloody and go down (to work with Fisher or Clark) to do what they gotta do, then they get back up here and get busted up again. It’s been every single day.”

Travis Hanshaw, 21, is in pursuit of an international title — he must beat Foster, and then win in the Arnold Classic in March in Columbus to achieve a chance. He defeated previously unbeaten Emmanuel Sanchez to improve to 6-0 in his professional career on Nov. 16, 2012.

Sanchez was Hanshaw’s “toughest fight as a pro,” said the Boyd County High School graduate.

What he knows about Foster: “He’s big, he’s strong ... he comes at you, non-stop.” Foster is 2-1-1.

The 6-foot-3 Hanshaw, who is sponsored by Prichard’s Lawn Care, BWH Security and All-American Graphics, said “I’m taking a big risk for my hometown, I really am. I’m fighting out of my weight class.”

Ruby Tuesday’s, the event’s main sponsor, will hold a weigh-in session on Friday at 7 p.m.

Cost for Saturday’s show is $20 for adults, $15 for students and children under 5 are free. Tables are also available. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Call Tom Hanshaw at (606) 571-3601 or Brian Knipp at (606) 316-6733 for more information.

A portion of the proceeds will go to Cabell Huntington Hospital Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. Some money will also go to the Boyd County High School varsity cheerleaders.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.