B.C. proved they may be producing the most top level boxers in Western Canada on the Weekend at the Harvest Centre in Red Deer, but Robbie Cusine showed Alberta still has plenty of fight left.
The Edmonton boxer won both of his matches to take gold in the 60-kilogram division at the 2014 Western Canadian Elite Senior Boxing Championships.
For his efforts, he was named top male fighter of the tournament, while B.C.’s River Tucker was named top female fighter for her win over Alberta’s Kendra Mogck for the 54 kilogram female title on Saturday night.
Big six-foot-10 Brad Switzer out of Edmonton is the other Albertan moving on to nationals after he TKO’d Joel Hardes out of Saskatchewan in the 91 kilogram-plus division on Saturday night.
What sealed the title for Cusine was a split decision win over Jag Seehra out of Prince George, B.C., in Sunday’s best fight.
“In the second round, he kept throwing his jab out at me and I kept coming back with my right hand. I hit him with a clean one that pushed him back a little, I wobbled him, and I knew at that point that if I keep pressing, I’m eventually going to out work him and not let it slip,” said Cusine, 22, who beat Manitoba’s Vannen Vadivelu in Saturday’s qualifying fight.
The championship fight was closely contested as both traded big blows, with Cusine landing more counter-punches. It went down to the wire and a late flurry by Seehra looked to lock up the win, but Cusine still came out on top in the three-round bout.
Red Deer and District Boxing Club coach Dennis Ejack has watched Cusine for a long time, and was not surprised with what he saw out of the Avenue Boxing Club fighter.
“This guy never quits, he trains hard, he runs, he does everything right and he’ll be a good representative for Alberta at the nationals,” said Ejack.
This wasn’t the first time the Cusine and Seehra had met.
The two fought last year while Cusine was living in Quesnel, B.C., that time, Seehra had the upper hand.
The win on Sunday, however, means Cusine will represent his home province for the first time at nationals in Ontario later this year. But this will not be his first time at nationals. He represented B.C. last year but lost to a fighter from Nova Scotia in the qualifying rounds.
The five-foot-10 boxer is excited to go back, this time waving Alberta’s flag. His dream is one day to be waiving the maple leaf at the Olympics. He knows he will have his work cut out to move onto the next stage of international boxing.
“There’s a lot of guys from out east that are in this weight level,” he said. “But Jag is one of the best in the country at this weight, he’s got a silver medal at nationals and he’s always there to contend. Now I can gauge how close I am — I am that close to that gold.”
Despite a small crowd on Sunday, Ejack says they were sold out for Saturday’s qualifying matches and early championship bouts. The tournament featured senior elite provincial champions from all weight classes from B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
“Like I said before, you were going to see the best and you did,” said Ejack, who credits his volunteer force for making things run smoothly.
In other championships: Darcy Hinds (B.C.) beat Mohamed Majien (Sask.) in the 75 kilogram division; Kenny Lally (B.C.) topped Brody Pigeon (Sask.) at 56 kilograms; Jesse Brown (B.C.) beat Jordan Ledger (Alta.) at 64 kilograms; Sasan Haghighat-Joo (B.C.) beat Adam Jacobson (Man.) at 69 kilograms; Alexandra Strickland (B.C.) topped Kelly Turner (Alta.) in female 60 kilograms; and Jacob Varga (B.C) beat Julian Klima (Alta) at 81 kilograms.
Up next for the club is Can You Feel the Glove Tonight 3 on Oct. 24 at Bo’s Bar and Grill in Red Deer, featuring local amateur fighters getting in the ring for the first time. On Nov. 14 is Rumble in Red Deer 6 at the West Harvest Centre.
For more information contact Ejack at 403-342-3846