Thomas Speirs of Prince George tossed out the game plan he'd worked out with his coach and fought to a draw in his pro boxing debut against Gary Kopas Friday night in Edmonton.
It was the first fight of the night, and according to the Edmonton Journal blog, it was a "bloody slugfest," a sloppy but highly-entertaining exchange of missiles.
Speirs's coach Wayne Sponagle could not agree more. He was seething mad at Speirs when the 22-year-old Spruce Capital Warriors light heavyweight ignored instructions to use his boxing skills and instead went ballistic looking for the knock out.
Speirs left Kopas with a bloody cut over his right eye and according to Sponagle twice had his opponent in trouble. But Speirs fell short of delivering a knockout blow to the 34-year-old from Saskatoon, who had 4-5 record in nine pro fights when he climbed through the ropes in Edmonton to begin the K.O. Boxing fight card.
Speirs landed a considerable number of blows but left himself vulnerable to head shots and Kopas succeeded in finding the target a bit too often for Sponagle's liking. After four three-minute rounds, their fight was declared too close to call.
"Thomas had it in his head that he was going to stop Gary Kopas, and he almost succeeded twice, but Kopas has been around a long time and he's tough a son of a gun," said Sponagle. "I put lots of wrap around Thomas's hands and he hit him so hard he bruised his right hand. That Kopas can take a shot.
"It could have been a fairly easy fight for Thomas if he had used his boxing skills. He did it his way and got hit with shots he never should have gotten hit with. But that fight showed me what Thomas is all about. He fought that whole fight just on guts and sheer determination to knock that guy out and stayed toe-to-toe with him the whole fight. It made it a very exciting fight, but it's not the way my fighters fight and I was very disappointed."
Speirs could not be reached for comment.
The fight card was taped and will be broadcast nationally within the next two weeks on Sportsnet. Sponagle says people then can judge for themselves whether Speirs deserved the decision.
"They got a standing ovation between rounds and at the end of the fight they got a standing ovation," said Sponagle. "It was by far the best fight on the card and I felt Thomas did enough to win. The fans booed the draw and as soon as the fight was over, Kopas told Thomas, 'good fight, you won.'
"To anybody who knows Kopas, it was the worst they have ever seen him beat up after a fight. To me, Thomas forced 90 per cent of the fight and landed cleaner harder shots."
For his efforts, Speirs earned about $1,000.
In the main event, Steve Claggert of Calgary scored a sixth-round TKO over Francesco Cotroni of Quebec to claim the NCC Canadian welterweight crown.