Echard eyes Ohio state boxing cruiserweight crown

PARKERSBURG – For the second time in as many fights, Parkersburg South graduate Dustin Echard is looking to add some championship hardware to his collection.

Saturday night at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio, “The Clean Coal Assassin” will put his 9-0-0 (6 KOs) record on the line against Brian Holstein (8-1-0, 6 KOs) with a pair of titles in the balance.

Not only is Echard, the current West Virginia light heavyweight champion, vying for the Ohio state cruiserweight title, but the winner also will be crowned the North American Boxing Federation junior cruiserweight champion.

“I’ve seen him once in person and my take on him is he’s just a slugger,” said Echard, who has changed jobs at CONSOL Energy and is now an assistant drilling engineer working on the gas side and is no longer working underground in the coal mines.

“He’s not a boxer at all. He throws a lot of wild punches. He’s shorter than me and he’ll want to try and overpower you the whole time.”

Echard’s third round TKO in late January against Eric Watkins in Morgantown helped him get this fight, but he was hoping it would’ve happened a little sooner. However, an injury to Echard didn’t help much.

“I had a stress fracture in my third metacarpal on my right hand and I took a month off from hitting anything and I’ve been pretty much going at it consistently ever since,” Echard stated.

“I wish I could’ve fought this a little sooner, but it’s the right fight. It is up a weight class a little bit and the contract is at 195 (pounds). I’m not going to be nearly that, probably 185 or 186. It doesn’t bother me none, speed kills.”

Although Holstein will weigh closer to the 195-pound limit, Echard’s manager Mike Sheppard doesn’t think his protege will have many problems during the scheduled eight-rounder.

“I’m really excited for this,” Sheppard said. “Dustin is really getting nasty. He’s getting hard for me to deal with in the gym. He’s as strong as an ox and just as quick and is in good shape.”

Echard said he’s been working out and “just travelling around a good bit, going to Sam’s Gym in Glouster (Ohio), going to Pittsburgh and going to Glenville. My hand is 100 percent better.

“I know he’s going to try and bull rush in. I have to keep my hands high and keep my guard up good, use my length a good bit and fight my game out there.”