In his first match, boxer Melvin Clark, Jr., (left) evades a punch from his experienced opponent, Doug McFresh, during the Fight Before Christmas 2 matches on Saturday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Both fighters were from Nikiski. After three rounds, McFresh won. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

In his first match, boxer Melvin Clark, Jr., (left) evades a punch from his experienced opponent, Doug McFresh, during the Fight Before Christmas 2 matches on Saturday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Both fighters were from Nikiski. After three rounds, McFresh won. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

Fight Before Xmas brings excitement to Soldotna

Expect the unexpected.

That was the apparent theme Saturday night at the jazzed-up Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, which played host to The Fight Before Christmas 2, a sequel to last year’s successful event in Soldotna.

“Overall, for all the obstacles that got thrown our way, I thought it turned out well,” said Mat Plant of Power Plant Productions. Plant said he woke up at 5 a.m. Saturday to help set up and organize the show, which included a full arena of tables for guests and the boxing ring at center stage.

Plant added that more fighting entertainment is in the works for a May 11 date when “King of the Kenai” makes its debut at the Sports Complex. Plant said the event will crown Kenai’s first champion in boxing and kickboxing.

The night had a little bit of everything — locals picking up popular wins in boxing and mixed martial arts matches, local rock band 3 Above belting out tunes, food and drinks being served. Even the pro wrestling bouts had their moments of surprise, like when “Blue-Eyed Butcher” Brody Adams walked off the stage with the Phoenix Kid’s Last Frontier Open Weight Championship belt, leaving the “Kid” down for the count before he vigorously jumped up on the ropes to call out a heckler in the crowd.

Many debutants ended up winning their fights, and at the end of the night, the big boys put on a show that had the crowd on its feet.

Charlie Christoffersen and Scott Mans went head to head for the heavyweight boxing title. Traditionally, heavyweight bouts tend to end up in hugging matches, as the big men dance around the ring trying to avoid taking a heavy punch.

This one was not one of those fights. Christoffersen and Mans engaged in a slugfest.

“If you don’t watch any heavyweight fights, we don’t get hit too many times,” Christoffersen said. “You can be a big, bad (expletive) but you can’t make defensive mistakes.

“Every hit is going to hurt.”

Mans, 47, is the pastor at Aurora Heights Worship Center in Nikiski, while Christoffersen is a former U.S. Marine, and both were fighting their first match.

Plant said after booking the matchup, he had a good feeling it would be a showstopper.

“Both been training a long time,” Plant said. “With Charlie, there’s not much stopping a Marine.”

Christoffersen spent five years in the Marines, splitting time in Washington, D.C., and Hawaii, and was deployed to South Korea. After finishing his service in 2016, Christoffersen spent time working in the oil industry before enrolling at Kenai Peninsula College, where he now studies Process Technology and Instrumentation.

Both in their boxing debuts, Christoffersen said his expectations against Mans were high, and that he believed he could win with aggression. Christoffersen said his competitive spirit is what got him here in the first place.

“I don’t like to be told I can’t do something,” he said. “Everything is a learning situation, everything is an opportunity to better myself.”

Both fighters landed blows on the other before the end of the third round.

“We were both trucking,” Christoffersen said. “I saw him swinging, and he hit me a lot.

“By the third round, I definitely saw him staggering.”

Mans was declared the winner in a 2-1 decision from the three judges, and shortly after took a long rest ringside after the night ended, with EMTs checking him out.

Previous to the heavyweight bout, the crowd got treated to a boxing matchup featuring two well-liked Nikiski fighters, Melvin Clark, Jr., and “Diabolic” Doug McFresh. Both boxers are friendly competitors who were on opposite ends of their careers.

McFresh, 27, has been fighting since age 18, while Clark, Jr., was competing in his first match. When he heard his friend needed a contestant to fight Saturday, McFresh said he stepped up to the spotlight.

At 201 pounds, McFresh said the 219-pound Clark, Jr., held his own.

“It shows a lot to his character and person,” McFresh said. “He was rocking me the first two rounds.”

McFresh, 27, won by TKO in the third round after Clark, Jr., stumbled and had trouble returning to form. The win lifted McFresh to a 15-7 record in a variety of fighting disciplines, including MMA and kickboxing. In strictly boxing contests, McFresh is now 1-2.

In his youth, McFresh said he was a bit of a troublemaker that simply needed some direction. After discovering a knack for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, among other disciplines, McFresh spent two years regularly hitchhiking from Nikiski to Soldotna to teach young members the art of kickboxing, which he picked up quickly.

These days, McFresh is living well with a girlfriend and 3-year-old son.

“This is my heart,” he said. “It’s stuff I love to do.”

The first boxing match of the night also featured a local kid winning, with 19-year-old Keyshawn McEnerney winning by TKO in the second round over Anchorage fighter Justin Locks.

A 2017 Kenai Central graduate, McEnerney was a state-placing wrestler, so the three two-minute rounds had him feeling comfortable in his boxing debut, although the feel of the ring was different than that of a mat.

“It was crazy,” McEnerney said. “It’s a whole new experience.”

McEnerney said the idea of boxing in front of a home crowd came to him only a week earlier, and a literal crash course in the sport took him to the win.

“I learned it about an hour ago,” he said shortly after making his exit.

As a rookie, McEnerney looked like a pro in the ring, staying under control while Locks missed on multiple swings, all while McEnerney tested his opponent with jabs. At one point in the second round, McEnerney had Locks on the ropes with a flurry of uppercuts to the body, and eventually, the pounding took its toll.

In the night’s lone MMA bout, 29-year-old Kenai fighter Corey Spooner took the victory over Cole “Batman” Aquino of Anchorage. In his 25th MMA match in Alaska, Spooner won by TKO in the first round, making for a short night against Aquino.

Extending his record to 13-11 in the state, Spooner said MMA is a sport that has become a lifelong passion for him.

“I’ll go as long as my body lets me,” Spooner said.

A 2007 SoHi graduate, Spooner, who credited former wrestling coaches Sarge Truesdell and Bill Carlson for his passion, said a prep career in wrestling naturally led to a new run in MMA.

“I needed something else to take out my anger,” he said.

In other boxing matches, Floyd Armstrong defeated fellow Kenai fighter Tyler Hall in a middleweight bout.

The second of two pro wrestling battles also had the crowd on its feet. In the first, “Electric Redneck” AK Lightning defeated Peter Avalon from Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, California. Championship Wrestling is a West Coast television program, and Avalon used that to help him gain a spot on WWE Smackdown last Tuesday.

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