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Battle at the Boat 80: King County boxers duke it out | Slideshow
Battle at the Boat 80 featured plenty of King County boxing talent to back up Saturday's main event between light heavyweights LaFarrell Bunting and Matt O'Brien. In a 10-round majority decision that drew loud crowd disapproval, Bunting (18-3-1, 17 KOs) edged O'Brien (18-2-0, 7 KOs).
Below is a recap of the event held Jan. 8 at Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma. The event was sponsored by Brian Halquist Productions.
Bunting and O'Brien went the distance, and ended most rounds with jeers from the audience over the fight's slow pace. Lots of jabbing and the occasional rope combos marked the early rounds, in which O'Brien seemed to have the edge by landing more solid punches. As the fighters muscled it out into the later rounds, Bunting kept up the pressure. The majority decision was scored 95-95, 96-94 and 97-93 for Bunting. The crowd erupted in a chorus of boos. The main event featured two of three non-local fighters on the evening's bill: Bunting hails from Memphis, Tenn., while O'Brien comes from Canada.
Renton resident Francisco Reyes (8-1, 2 KOs) won a split decision over Robert Vargas (5-1) of Santa Ana, Calif., in a five-round lightweight co-main event. Both fighters stood toe-to-toe in the first three rounds before starting round 4 with a bashfest, then scrapping to the finish. Reyes was in control, with quick evasive moves that kept the previously undefeated Vargas in check.
Reyes trains at Tenochtitlan gym in Renton, where he has lived since age 3 after his family arrived from Mexico. He is a co-owner of Elegant, an auto body shop in Kent. Before the fight, the 22-year-old Reyes was relaxed and focused backstage, ready to do what he does best — box. After the fight, the second-year pro acknowledged the support of friends and family as his key to winning. "I hope I get to come back and fight," he said.
Middleweight (five rounds)
Seattle resident Eddie Hunter (5-4-2, 2 KO) knocked out Tacoma resident Nate Smith (4-3-2, 3 KOs) in 1:32 in round five.
The fight heated up in the second round as Smith came out swinging, but Hunter kept his footing and was able to knock Smith off-balance. Smith was bleeding from his eye at the end of round three and appeared to tire in round four. The fight was called in round five after Hunter blasted Smith against the ropes with a blizzard of blows.
"Now that was boxing!" Hunter said immediately after the KO, his words muffled by the mouthguard, sweat dripping over the ropes. Hunter has beaten five undefeated fighters in his professional career. Before the fight, Hunter was confident of a victory: "I'm about to knock that guy out." Afterward, he said the key to victory was relying on his jab. "I didn't want to rush it," said Hunter, who trains at Credit Boxing Gym in Renton. Smith, who trains at a gym at the Auburn Supermall, said he last fought four years ago. "I didn't quit the right way," he said before the fight. "It'll be a good fight. Nothing but a boxing match."
Middleweight (four rounds)
In his pro debut, Yakima resident Natividad Serrano (1-0) beat Vancouver, Wash., resident Roman Wheeler (0-2) with a TKO at 2:00 in round two. Serrano didn't miss too many shots and just banged away at Wheeler. The fight was called after a hard smack to the head left Wheeler dazed. The fight was energetic from the start.
Welterweight (four rounds)
Virgil Green (2-0) held off Nalo Leal (3-10-1) in a unanimous decision to remain undefeated as a pro. Green, of Vancouver, Wash., stayed in control through four rounds against Leal, of Airway Heights, Wash. Green appeared frustrated in the first half of the fight as Leal jabbed him around the ring. The two poured it on toward the end, though neither appeared close to finishing off the other. Green connected on more punches and Leal was effective in close quarters in getting Green off-balance. Judges scored the fight 40-36 in favor of Green. At one point, it was overheard that "Green thinks he broke his hand." That injury had not been confirmed at press time.
Super featherweight (four rounds)
In the opening match, Seattle resident Rob Diezel (5-2, 1 KO) beat Kendall Ward (0-2) with a TKO after the fight was called at 1:43 in round two. That's when Diezel caught Ward off-guard with a solid left, then unleashed a flurry of punches that sent Ward to the ropes and won the fight. Diezel, who trains at Credit Boxing Gym in Renton, had one of the evening's more exciting victories. "I need that pound-for-pound title," he said while getting his hands taped before the fight. "That's the ultimate goal for boxing." He added that the Northwest and Puget Sound region need more events that promote local boxers.
A short tribute was given to Auburn boxer Greg Haugen, who retired in 1999 with a record of 40-10-2. He is a former International Boxing Federation lightweight titleholder, World Boxing Organization light welterweight titleholder and North American Boxing Federation light welterweight titleholder. He made headlines in 1993 with a fight against Julio Caesar Chavez with a comment that Chavez's wins "came against Tijuana taxi drivers that my mom could whip." Chavez won the fight.
Federal Way boxer Vincent Thompson was introduced to the crowd as "one of the hottest heavyweight prospects in the nation." Thompson, who stands 6'2" and weighs 225 pounds, recently signed a promotional contract with Brian Halquist Productions.. Thompson is undefeated in his pro career (6-0) and is ready to make boxing more entertaining in the Northwest: "I'm always willing and ready to fight."