Battle at the Boat 104

January 15, 2016

Brian Halquist and the

Emerald Queen Casino

After the fight, in the cubicle that served as a locker room, Dashon Johnson said, “Styles make fights. I fought my fight and adjusted to [Cardona].” That was certainly true, but one also has to wonder if Johnson knew a bit more about how to box Cardona, who was coming off a unanimous decision loss last August. What jumps out about Cardona is that all fourteen of his wins have come by way of the knockout, while all of his losses have gone the distance and been placed in the hands of the judges. Many of the people in the sold out crowd were looking for Johnson to end the fight the way he did his last fight, stopped in the eighth round after Johnson launched a vicious attack to stop Mike Gavronski.

To describe the pace of the opening round of the ten round fight as slow would do the word a disservice. At times it felt glacial in its lack of motion. Cardona was content to stand in front of Johnson with his gloves up in front of his face while Johnson looked to step toward Cardona and get close enough to land a jab. The action increased a bit in the second round as Cardona began to walk Johnson down, and that meant that Johnson spent much of the round with his back to the ropes. Cardona was able to land his right hand, though intermittently, and the power behind it kept Johnson from opening up his attack.

Cardona continued to fire shots at Johnson's body in the third, but stepping in close provided Johnson the opportunity to throw body shots and quick combinations. Landing those shots while inside appeared to give Johnson the confidence to stay in tight to neutralize the taller Cardona's reach. Cardona fought behind his jab through most of the fourth round. Johnson did answer some of those shots, though he did not land as often as he had been.
Cardona began to increase his work rate in the fifth, but Johnson proved adept at blocking many of the shots or using his quickness to slip others. Even while moving out of trouble, Johnson was able to score using his jab. Most of the action of the sixth round came after the midpoint. Cardona landed his right and was also able to touch Johnson with his jab.

Johnson scored behind his combination while fighting in close in the early moments of the seventh round. Cardona kept on the move while looking for openings, but he was throwing only single punches. Cardona re-established control using his height and reach in the eighth round. That slowed Johnson's offense, but he was able to move well enough to not get caught.

Johnson was his most aggressive in the ninth round as he kept walking toward Cardona, leading with his jab and following that with a looping right. Cardona did a nice job of covering up and blocking shots though he left his ribs exposed. In the final round Johnson did all he could to keep the action in the center of the ring. When Cardona stepped back toward the ropes, Johnson stepped to the center of the ring, forcing Cardona to step toward him and within reach of Johnson’s combination.

At the end of ten rounds one judge scored the fight 98-92 for Cardona, the other two saw the fight 98-92 for Johnson. Johnson would take the split decision victory for his fourth win in a row.


Cardona had power in his right hand
In the late rounds Johnson began to score through CArdona's defense

Cardenas' right hand did the damage through the fight

Marco Cardenas had not been in the ring for more than a year. He had lost his last two bouts. He does however have the ability to punch hard, and take a punch as well, so stepping in against the quick and talented Jeremy McCleary appeared to set up a classic bout between a boxer and a brawler.

In the opening round both men were able to initially fight to their strength. McCleary threw short, quick jabs wile Cardenas loaded up heavy handed looping rights. Much of the action took place in close, and there Cardenas had an edge as he landed some heavy shots. McCleary changed his tactics in the second round and began to trade punches with Cardenas. That may have given a slight advantage to Cardenas as he possesses the heavier hands. McCleary used his quickness as the round drew to an end to avoid serious damage.

Cardenas came out firing to open the third round. He moved McCleary around the ring, bouncing him off the ropes with looping right hands. Cardenas backed McCleary toward the ropes and landed a heavy right hand that dropped McCleary near the one minute mark. Though he stood quickly and took the count, McCleary's legs were a bit wobbly. Cardenas quickly jumped toward him and backed him in to the corner where he landed a serious of shots to McCleary's body and head. As McCleary's legs began to fold, the referee stepped in to stop the fight.

Marco Cardenas shook off any semblance of rust to claim the TKO victory at 1:34 of the third round.


Marcello Gallardo and Rob Diezel were looking to score a win after each man had come up short in their previous two fights. Gallardo had been more active than Diezel, fighting three times in 2015, while Diezel last stepped in the ring in 2014. Even so, Diezel did not look as though he lost any of his fight skills in the layoff.

Diezel was able to control the pace of the fight in the opening round as he effectively threw his jab, keeping Gallardo from moving in close. When Gallardo was able to close the distance between the two men he was able to land a few heavy punches. Diezel continued to score behind his jab in the second round. He was moving well and keeping Gallardo moving through the opening minute of the round. Gallardo then threw a heavy right hand that Diezel did not see and it dropped Diezel to the mat. He stood and listened to the count, but his legs were not solid underneath him. As the round continued, Gallardo punched Diezel across the ring until he had him backed against the ropes where he smothered Diezel with a serious of hard shots.

The referee stepped in to stop the fight at 1:21 of the round. Gallardo would score the TKO victory.


Gallardo's looping rights would eventually catch Diezel

Najera's overhand right stuns Hernandez



Nestor Hernandez made his professional debut facing Isaiah Najera in a four round bout. Though both men are early in their boxing career, they each displayed some sharp boxing skill. Najera's skills have been honed in the ring, as he has gone the distance in earning wins in his last three fights; Hernandez would appear to owe his skill to a solid training regimen.

The pace of the opening round was quick and frenzied. Both men threw a lot of punches, most of them heavy looping shots as if trying to catch the other solidly and end the fight early. Najera was the first to settle in the second round and in so doing he began to land his jab. He coupled that with a right which found a target on Hernandez's body. Hernandez too used his jab as he tried to back Najera in to the ropes.

While Hernandez continued to throw a number of shots in the third round, often too wide, Najera found a comfortable rhythm and used his jabs and body shots to control the action. At the 2:50 mark of the round Najera landed a right to Hernandez's head and Hernandez hit the mat. He rose to hear the count as the bell sounded to end the round. Hernandez came out firing shots to open the fourth round, but he could not slow Najera. Najera's punch count grew as the round continued and once past the one minute mark he landed so often that Hernandez could do little to avoid being caught. With Hernandez covering up on the ropes, Najera landed a series of shots that forced the referee to step in and call an end to the bout.

Najera would score his fourth win with a TKO at 1:48 of the fourth round.


On a night that saw a few fighters return after a lengthy layoff, William Fernandez was the man who had not fought for the longest period. It had been two and a half years since he had faced an opponent in the ring. His opponent, Zach Cooper, fought only once in 2015 and once in 2014, so there was no clear cut advantage for staying busy.

The opening round was interesting in that both fighters threw a lot of punches, but neither of them made much contact. Fernandez tried to use his height and reach to gain an advantage while Cooper tried to neutralize that by closing the gap and fighting in close. Cooper continued to fight in close in the second round and that made it more difficult for Fernandez to land shots with any power.

Body shots were in order in the third round. Both men threw them and both men were able to land them. Cooper gained an edge in that his shots delivered more power. When Fernandez was able to step back he was able to shoot his long right and on occasion he scored behind it. In the fourth the men returned to the style of the opening round and rather than standing in close, there was distance between them. That appeared to give an advantage to Fernandez.

At the end of four rounds one judge scored the bout even at 38; the other two scored the fight 39 - 37 in favor of Cooper who would claim the majority decision win.

Fernandez scored at the end of his right

Keys' reach established his power

Lexus Pagampao and Andre Keys made their professional debut in the four round bout that opened the night's action.

Pagampao scored early in the opening round as he was able to land shots on Keys' body. The momentum swung toward Keys in the latter half of the round as moved to create enough distance to use his height and reach advantage to throw scoring shots at Pagampao. Pagampao continued to fire body shots at Keys in the second as Keys looked to use his reach to keep Pagampao at a distance. Keys punch output slowed, and that allowed Pagampao to stay in the fight.

Keys out landed Pagampao in the opening moments of the third round. Behind a straight left and hard right to the body, Keys began to break Pagampao down. As Keys scoring punches began to increase, Pagampao slowed. When Keys landed a flurry of shots that stunned Pagampao, the referee jumped in to end the bout.

Keys would score the TKO win at 2:29 of the fourth round.





Dashon Johnson and his team celebrate the win