Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran (5-1-1), left, battles it out in the bare-knuckle ring versus Gravois Mills’ own Sam “Hillbilly Hammer” Shewmaker (4-1-1) Saturday, June 26 in Hollywood, Fla. during the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. (photo used by permission)


by Vicki Wood
Sam Shewmaker, Gravois Mills’ own “Hillbilly Hammer,”
came up slightly short in a fight Saturday, June 26 at the Seminole Hardrock Hotel and Casino ring in Hollywood, Fla. Shewmaker traveled to Florida a couple of days before the match for weigh-in and promotions. The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, or BKFC Championship, was on the line and, in the end, defending champion Joey Beltran retained the title.
Shewmaker and Beltran began the fight with almost identical records, with Sam “Hillbilly Hammer” Shewmaker at 4-1-1 and Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran at 5-1-1. The fight was Beltran’s second match to defend his heavyweight title in the main event of BKFC 18.
Shewmaker threw the hammer with a left jab to begin the fight, and bloodied Beltran in the first round. Shewmaker completed another left to Beltran at the end of the second round, despite Beltran’s dancing footwork.
The third round likely went to Beltran and caught the judges attention, as Shewmaker had to do quite a bit of clinching to keep the champ’s punches from coming through.
The fourth round saw Beltran turning up the heat, pressuring Shewmaker against the ropes, and receiving body punches, although Shewmaker paced the beginning of the round with some significant combinations.
The final round was a fury of action, with both fighters delivering hard-hitting combinations against each other.
Matt Kohler, Shewmaker’s manager, commented regarding the fight, “I am of the opinion that Joey was tying Sam up, and not the other way around. Joey tied him up to avoid taking any further damage. He knew that he couldn’t hurt Sam, but that Sam could hurt him, so he tied him up to take away Sam’s advantages of distance and power. The outcome of the judges’ scores would likely have looked much different if it weren’t a title fight against an incumbent champion in his own home town, too. I don’t agree with their decision, but I understand it.”
The judges scored the fight unanimously for Beltran with scores of 49-46, 49-46, and 48-47.