VIENNA - Parkersburg South graduate Dustin Echard will be fighting for the West Virginia state light heavyweight crown thanks to his unanimous decision victory late Saturday night at the Fishbone Fight Night I versus Oak Hill's Shawn Laughery (5-1).
Echard improved to 7-0 as a pro after working over Laughery. The judges handed Echard an easy 59-55, 60-54 and 60-54 triumph.
"It's amazing. That's just been a dream of mine," said Echard, who will fight Eric Watkins on Friday, Aug. 23, in Morgantown. "He (Laughery) had a hard head because I connected with it several times. He was just gritty and a real tough fighter.
"I kind of pushed him around a little bit and started throwing some body shots, started breaking his hands down a little bit. I just had to grind through it."
Although Echard wasn't able to put Laughery to the canvas, he picked up the pace in the second round. Laughery's best round was the fourth, although two of the judges had Echard winning each round.
"It was one of those fights where you are in there with a good fighter," Echard added. "We had a good corner and they helped me through the fight.
Results from Fight Night I
at Fishbone Gill and Grill
Dustin Echard (7-0) won vs. Shawn Laughery (5-1) via UD: 59-55, 60-54, 60-54
Other Professional Fights
Joe Paintiff won vs. Greg Maynard via UD: 40-36, 40-36, 40-36
Nathan Butcher won vs. Nathan Hall via 2nd RD TKO
Mike Sheppard won vs. Justin Novaria via UD: 40-33, 40-31, 40-33
J.R. Hines (25-7) won vs. Chad Blevins (21-3) via 2nd RD KO
Preston Wilson (12-0) won vs. Kenny Wilson via UD
Josh Knopp won vs. Justin Knopp via SD
Zach Cheuvront won vs. Alonzo Whaley via UD
Josh Fisher won vs. Perry Simms via UD
Zack Hays won vs. Tyler Conway via SD
Mike Brown won vs. Steven Chesnik via UD
Ryan Dotson won vs. Joey Belaire via UD
"It's great just going from Toughman into pro boxing and having great people surrounding me, pushing me all the time and believing in the same dream I did."
The knockout of the night came in the lone professional full contact American rules kickboxing match where Kentucky's J.R. Hines (25-7) flattened Chad Blevins (21-3) at 1:12 of the second round.
"I came down and put on a good show and knocked him out. We'll do a rematch here in the next couple months for the (vacant) IKF (United States) Southeast title," said Hines, who was fighting in the Mountain State for the first time.
"He (Blevins) was a real tough guy. I'll be back (to West Virginia). I mean the women down here are beautiful, the people are friendly and nice. It's great."
Another marquee match on the undercard involved Parkersburg's Preston Wilson and Wheeling's Kenny Wilson, both of whom are two-time Toughman champions. The scheduled three-rounder indeed went the distance, but the local Wilson captured an easy unanimous decision and floored his opponent in the second round with a gut shot.
"I got him with a left in the spleen and dropped him," said the now 12-0 Preston Wilson, who aims to fight as a junior welterweight pro down the line. "He took a four or five count, got up and I was trying to end it and give everybody a knockout.
"All my friends and family were here. I tried to work the body again and he just kept backing up and backing up. He wouldn't give me anything and wouldn't engage."
Three other pro bouts were on the card and locals won two of them with the lone exception coming when Huntington's Nathan Butcher scored at TKO at 2:08 of the second round against Parkersburg's Nathan Hall.
Parkersburg's Joe Paintiff was giving up quite a bit of weight to opponent Greg Maynard, but still picked up a 40-36, 40-36 and 40-36 unanimous decision.
Promoter Mike Sheppard fought toward the beginning of the show and put down Justin Novaria early and often in the four rounder to the tune of a half dozen times. However, Novaria kept getting back up only to lose on the score cards -40-33, 40-31 and 40-33.
"He wasn't bad and was pretty durable," Sheppard said of Novaria. "That was a good little show. I'm tickled to death with the crowd.
"We'll do it again. I don't have a venue yet, but look for November 23rd. That's a good day because the Mountaineers are off right before Thanksgiving."
In the showdown of Parkersburg twins Josh and Justin Knopp, the brothers put on a good show, but older brother Josh picked up a split decision.
Wirt County's Zach Cheuvront, the former first team all-state defensive back for the Tigers, improved to 2-0 after earning a unanimous decision against Alonzo Whaley.
Vienna's Zack Hays also scored a split decision triumph versus Tyler Conway.
Three other matches all went the way of unanimous decisions. Parkersburg's Mike Brown beat Steven Chesnik, Wheeling's Josh Fisher handled Perry Simms and Huntington's Ryan Dotson took care of Joey Belaire during the opening match of the night.