The CBZ Newswire

Gavronski Defeats Journeyman Johnson, Green Impresses at Battle at the Boat 99 at the Emerald Queen Casino

by on Jan.11, 2015, under Boxing News

By Ricardo Ibarra

Photos by Mike Blair

Gavronski fires his right.

Gavronski fires his right.


The Battle at the Boat series at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington has remained a staple of northwest boxing for close to two decades now, holding steady as the most consistent show in the Pacific Northwest. As it closes in on it’s monumental 100th show, the series continues to bring great fights to the savvy northwest fight crowds and remains one of the longest running series of boxing shows in the country. This past Friday Brian Halquist Productions presented it’s 99th installment of the series to a sold out crowd, featuring some of the best talent in the area in well-matched, entertaining fights.

In the ten round main event the region’s top Super Middleweight hopeful Mike Gavronski added his second consecutive win since losing for the first time last July with a unanimous decision win over late sub Dashon Johnson. Gavronksi was originally scheduled to face crafty Californian prospect Louis Rose, but with just one week to go for the bout, Rose pulled out, leaving Gavronksi without an opponent. Luckily Johnson, who is a much better fighter than his record would suggest, never shies away from a challenge, and quickly jumped at the opportunity to face the tall and rangy Tacoma native. Thankfully for fans, he took the fight as they were treated to an entertaining ten rounds between two solid professionals.

From the start, Gavronksi (16-1-1 171 lbs.) came out firing an aggressive jab and following up with hard right hands and left hooks. He quickly took control of the range with his jab and lateral movement and set a fast pace with brisk one-twos. For the first four rounds Gavronksi maintained control with quick combinations and good defense. Johnson (15-18-3 5KOs 175 lbs.) remained competitive in those rounds, occasionally unloading with hard, looping rights, but he seemed to take a measured approach early on.

In the fifth, Johnson found his groove and began to time Gavronski as he came in. The crafty journeyman has always been adept at using angles to avoid punches and create openings, and as the bout progressed he began to do so often, finding a home for his quick overhand right. For the next three rounds, Johnson seemed to outland Gavronski, who seemed to slow in those rounds. The rounds were close, fast-paced and competitive, but Johnson appeared to be the more effective fighter.

Gavronski picked up his pace in the eighth and began to once again find his rhythm. Snapping hard right hands in his opponent’s face, Gavronski began to take control of the range and keep Johnson on the end of his punches. For the remainder of the last three rounds Gavronski boxed well, using quick one-twos and constant movement to keep the onrushing Johnson on the outside. The fight remained competitive with Johnson giving a game effort, but aside from a point deduction in the ninth for pushing, Gavronksi clearly won the last portion of the fight. The official judges’ tallies read 98-91, 98-91, and 95-94, giving Gavronski the unanimous decision win.

The once highly praised Gavronski is doing a great job of rebuilding the momentum he lost when he suffered his first defeat at the hands of Cuban contender Tureano Johnson last July on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. This win marks his second in a row in the last three months. His team has been working hard to improve on what they feel cost them the win against Tureano, and the improvements are showing. Plans are to keep him busy and work towards another high profile fight sometime this year. If he continues to improve and keep busy, his prospects of winning the next time he steps up to a major challenge are looking good.

Green (left) gets set to counter against the oncoming Hughes.

Green (left) gets set to counter against the oncoming Hughes.

The semi-main event of the night was an intriguing fight between two regional prospects on the rise, both coming off recent impressive wins. The showdown between Vancouver, Washington’s Virgil Green, who recently scored a vicious third round KO over California’s Israel Arellano and local favorite Will Hughes, who, in turn, pulled a minor upset last November with his win over heavy-handed Marcelino Pineda, was a match-up pitting two fighters needing to maintain momentum in their respective careers.

And as the fight got underway, both fighters jockeyed for position, using their jabs to try to gain an advantage and find an opening for their power shots. The early portion of the first round was close, with Green (10-3 3KOs 142 lbs.) working at range and Hughes (4-2 3KOs 140.5 lbs.) being more effective in close. In the last few seconds of the round, though, Green opened up with a big left hook, wobbling Hughes as the round came to a close.

In the second, the superior boxing skills of Green began to show. Using a long, snapping jab and quick lateral movement, he began to control the distance, creating openings for his straight right. Hughes continued to press aggressively, but Green used his angles to avoid the oncoming rush and counter as Hughes stepped inside.

Green stayed in control for the remainder of the bout, maintaining a disciplined game-plan. Hughes showed tremendous heart in the fight, even with a huge gash opened up by a right hand along his left eye, he continued to try to solve the puzzle that was in front of him and did land some big shots of his own, but Green easily secured the victory with smart, concise boxing. The official scores read 60-54, 59-55, 58-56.

Green looked even sharper than he did in his last fight, and adds his second victory since losing a highly controversial loss to Moris Rodriguez last year. The young prospect is showing vast improvements in his game with each outing, quickly rebuilding the momentum he once had.

Meanwhile Hughes, who had up until last November been inactive sice 2007, adds a second loss to his record.

Undefeated local favorite Jeremy McCleary outboxed Portland, Oregon’s Damen Wood to claim a four round unanimous decision. McCleary (6-0 127.5 lbs.), who is a quick-handed, slick boxer, used his superior skill and hand-speed to control most of the action throughout the fight. Wood (0-2 128 lbs.) was a tough competitor, continually pressing the action, finding sporadic openings for hard uppercuts in close, but the majority of the fight was controlled by the busier McCleary. The judges scored the bout 40-35, 39-36, and 38-37.

The promising career of cruiserweight prospect and local Tacoma favorite Marquise Weston suffered its first hiccup against Sacramento, California’s Lamont Williams. Weston (4-0-1 2KOs 179.5 lbs.), who had made an impressive run going undefeated in four fights, came into the ring to the sounds of arguably the loudest ovation of the night. In the first two rounds, he gave the local crowd a lot to cheer about. Using his jab to work his way in, Weston aggressively pressed the action and consistently pushed his opponent back with hard combinations. He appeared to be on his way to another great night, but in the third the more experienced Williams (6-7-1 3KOs 178.5 lbs.) began to make adjustments and was no longer as easy to find. Using angles and a crafty defense, Williams made his opponent miss and countered effectively.

While Weston slowed in the last rounds, seemingly unable to dissect his opponent’s new approach, Williams picked up his pace and clearly won the remainder of the fight. Two judges agreed, scoring the fight 38-38, while the third scored in 39-37 for Weston, making the official result a majority draw.

In an unfortunate turn of events Sunnyside, Washington’s Antonio Neal scored a first round stoppage of Burnby, BC’s Ron Pryce. Early in the bout Neal (3-1 2KOs 157.5 lbs.) caught Pryce (0-1-1 154 lbs.) with a straight right to the chin, buckling his knees and sending him down. On his way down, Pryce severely twisted his knee and began rolling on the canvass in extreme pain. Referee Paul Field, having seen how awkwardly Pryce fell, wisely waved the fight off and called for the doctor to tend to the fighter. Neal adds his third knockout win at 1:51 of the first round.

In the evening’s opener, Yakima, Washington’s Andres Reyes (2-0 134.5 lbs.) kept his undefeated record intact, defeating Portland, Oregon’s Benjamin Vinson (1-2 134 lbs.) via unanimous decision. The fight was a fast paced one with both fighters landing their fair share of leather, but it was the higher out-put and more precise punching of Reyes that carried the fight. All three judges scored the fight for Reyes.

The Emerald Queen Casino’s capacity crowd was treated to another solid show from Promoter Brian Halquist and matchmaker Andy Nance. The 100th Battle at the Boat is scheduled for March 28th. Halquist Productions returns to the Emerald Queen Casino February 21st with a CageSport MMA card. For info visit



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