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King, Long face major tests in ring

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Jul 6, 2018 at 8:23 PM

A pair of Johnson City boxers will face tough tests in the ring next Saturday night.

Roy King has the biggest fight of his professional career against Travis Hanshaw for the WBF Intercontinental light heavyweight championship in Cattlesburg, Ky.

Dustin Long, a veteran of both MMA and boxing, has a cruiserweight boxing match against Scott “Cujo” Sigmon, who has faced five world champions, as part of the Elite Warrior 17 in Salem, Va..

King traveled to New York recently as part of a Netflix documentary about Appalachian fighters. He’s going into Hanshaw’s territory now as the reigning champion has a 13-1-1 record with seven knockouts. King, 39, counters with a 10-1-1 record, undefeated in his last nine bouts with five knockouts.

He talked about facing Hanshaw, who is 13 years his junior and, at 6-foot-3, has about a three-inch height advantage.

“I deal with the youth all the time. I know I can keep up,” said King, who feels a win could put him in line for a world title shot. “As far as his height advantage, I have a cruiserweight in Robert Hall Jr. who is the same height and I’ve been working with him to get around his jab.”

LONG SHOT

Long has an 8-3 record in MMA and is 0-0-2 in boxing, realizes he is a huge underdog. He takes on an experienced opponent in Sigmon (31-12), who has fought former world champions such as Kelly Pavlik, Luis Arias and Roy Jones Jr. Jones, at one time, was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

“A lot of people wonder why I would take this fight,” Long said. “I started boxing before MMA and my cousin Brad (Austin) used to tell me when you beat somebody you take all their accomplishments. So, I’m fighting the most accomplished pro boxer in our region. He went the distance with four world champs, so the pressure is on him, not me.”

The adjustment from MMA back to boxing is challenging, but Long has been concentrating on boxing as he has recovered from a shoulder injury. At 6-foot-4, he has significant height and reach advantages over the 5-foot-9 Sigmon, who is the No. 37 cruiserweight in the world, according to the BoxRec ratings.

“There are two different set-ups with boxing and MMA,” said Long, who originally trained for combat sports as a boxer. “You have to get comfortable with the rounds, the different muscles. I love boxing, and this fight will challenge myself. Scott Vance and my cousin Brad have been coaching me. Brad is the most experience fighter around here. Scott has trained 37 national champs and I feel I’m getting better training than him, and I think my sparring has been better with guys like Robert Hall Jr. and Roy King.”

HALL PASS

Johnson City cruiserweight Robert Hall Jr. made a triumphant return to the ring with a second-round TKO of James Jones last Saturday in Charlotte on a card promoted by former women’s world champion Christy Martin.

Hall improved to 12-1 with nine knockouts after the dominating victory. It was a strong bounce-back for Hall, who had lost against top-ranked contender Imre Szello last November, and had won the WBC United States cruiserweight title the fight previous to that.

Austin, another Johnson City cruiserweight, lost a six-round unanimous decision to Marcos Escudero, an Argentina native now living in Florida. The 41-year-old Austin, a one-time Olympic Trials finalist, fell to 13-28 overall. He is just 2-6 in his last eight bouts, although five of those have come against undefeated fighters.

CAGEY FIGHTER

Hampton Mixed Martial Arts fighter Adam “Primetime” Townsend is scheduled be in a Muay Thai contest as a part of Valor Fights 51 on July 21 at the D3 Sports Complex on July 21.

Townsend won a unanimous decision against New Zealand fighter Kiernan Joblin on June 16 in Australia. Townsend improved to 19-5 record with wins in five of his last six fights.

The Valor Fights 51 card features Chandler Cole faces Marcus Finch in a heavyweight main event. The card also features Johnson City fighters Keith Olson and Caleb Frank. University High alumnus Jason King, who now lives in Knoxville, is also part of the card.

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