Defending champ, Inman advance to final day of BFO Las Vegas Championship
LAS VEGAS – Fifteen stitches and a bum hamstring had nothing on Weston Rutkowski.
The reigning Bullfighters Only world champion suffered those injuries a week ago, but what hurt him more was the doubt that was cast on his ability and his work ethic. He answered those doubts Thursday afternoon with a 90.5-point fight during the second Preliminary Round of the BFO Las Vegas Championship at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.
“This was about redemption,” said Rutkowski, the No. 1 man in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings and the frontrunner to repeat as the world champ. “There were a lot of people wondering if I could, if I could come in and take over.
“The Roughy Cup (last week) didn’t go as good as I wanted to, and I got 15 staples and reaggravated a hamstring injury. So, this was getting back to the basics to prove to everybody that I know how to fight bulls. This is a very dangerous sport, but in order to be a world champion, you have to battle through that and make yourself fight your fight.”
His bout was so strong that it didn’t look like the injuries even hampered him. He admitted, though, that he had to block it out to a point.
“Winning my round today means I get a day off, another day of rehab over here at the Fit N Wise sports medicine,” he said. “It’ll be nice to have an extra day off to be able to get ready to fight at the finals Saturday.”
Trainers have outfitted Rutkowski with a specialized wrap to help protect the hamstring as much as possible. He tested it out Wednesday night to make sure everything was good to go for his round.
“I went down to the arena, and I pretended to fight bulls for 45 minutes to an hour,” he said. “I proved to myself that the wrap would hold up.”
That was all he needed to help his confidence and put on the fight necessary to advance to Championship Saturday.
“One slip or one fall, and people think you’ve lost your step,” Rutkowski said. “If you can’t get up from some bumps and bruises, then this isn’t the sport for you.
“I’m not going to bow down. The world title goes through me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let go of it without putting up a fight.”
While he is the No. 1 man in the game, there is one man that can catch Rutkowski: Toby Inman of Davis Junction, Ill., who joins Rutkowski and Kris Furr of Hamptonville, N.C., in advancing to Saturday’s finale. Furr won his three-man bout with an 80, while Inman scored 85 to advance.
“I thought my fight went great,” said Inman, who returned to the sport in 2016 after retiring five years before. “That was maybe the happiest I’ve ever felt before a fight. Today I wasn’t overthinking stuff.
“I had a fun little red bull, and I knew I just needed to play my cards right to advance. Thankfully I didn’t have Weston in my round. I just did a simple fight and made it work.”
Weston Rutkowski, 90.5; Toby Inman, 85; and Kris Furr, 80.