Brian Halquist thought his days as a boxing promoter would slow down after two of the most popular Northwest fighters of the 90′s – Native American heavyweight contender Joe “The Boss” Hipp and three-time world champion Greg Haugen – lost their respective high-profile bouts.
In his first world title challenge, Hipp was savagely beaten by then-WBA heavyweight champion Bruce Seldon (August 1995) until the fight was stopped during the tenth round due to cuts and excessive swelling around the fighter’s eyes.
Two and half years earlier, the ever-popular trash-talking Haugen was savagely beaten by the legendary Mexican warrior Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (February 1993). Chavez was enraged by pre-fight trash talking of Haugen who had described Chavez’s opposition as “Tijuana taxi drivers.” Chavez dropped Haugen in the opening seconds of the first round and relentlessly pummeled him throughout the contest before referee Joe Cortez mercifully stopped the beating in the fifth round.
Halquist continued to promote boxing but it was tough times with two of the best ticket sellers no longer in the spotlight.
Fast forward a couple of years to July 1997 when Halquist was contacted by Frank Wright, the casino manager for the newly built Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington.
Wright wanted to stage a regular boxing show at the Emerald Queen!
Coincidentally, Bob Arum of Top Rank had contacted Halquist a day earlier looking for a venue for a card featuring Tacoma native Emmett Linton defending his IBA jr middleweight title against perennial contender Jose “Shibata” Flores.
The only problem was the fight was scheduled in ten days and the Emerald Queen did not have a venue for boxing.
At least not yet!
Brian Halquist Productions accepted the challenge!
Within a few days, Halquist located a giant tent that would accommodate a ring with seating for 2500 people plus he obtained the chairs, lighting and ringcard girls!
And thus the “Battle at the Boat” was launched on July 9, 1997.
Now 15 1/2 years later, the “Battle at the Boat” is the longest running fight series at any tribal Casino in the U.S. and this Saturday will mark the 90th installment of the fan favorite show at the Emerald Queen Casino. This Saturday’s headliner features grizzled veterans Robert Frankel and Jermaine White with an undercard of top local talent. Both fighters have fought a “Who’s Who” list of champions and contenders, including Paul Spadafora, David Diaz and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.
This Saturday’s line-up may be a “club show” but over the years the “Battle at the Boat” has hosted cards showcasing dozens of contenders and champions that were televised by SHOWTIME, ESPN, ESPN2, TV Azteca, Telefutura and Telemundo.
Listed below are some of the more prominent “Battle at the Boat” cards over the years (records listed were current at the time of the bout):
* July 9th, 1997 – IBA Light Middleweight Title: Emmett Linton (23-2-0, 12 KOs) vs. Jose Flores (34-6-0, 21 KOs)
* September 19th, 1997 – NABF Super Bantamweight Title: Enrique Sanchez (22-0-0, 17 KOs) vs. Nelson Medina (12-13-2, 2 KOs)
* May 6th, 1999 – Northwest Heavyweight Title: Alexander Zolkin (25-3-0, 17 KOs) vs. Willie Williams (15-2-0, 10 KOs)
* September 29th, 2001 – WBO Intercontinental, NABO, WBO Latino Super Bantamweight Title: Joan Guzman (15-0-0, 13 KOs) vs. Edel Ruiz (21-4-3, 17 KOs)
* April 12th, 2003 – NABO Middleweight Title: Kenny Ellis (28-4-2, 18 KOs) vs. Fernando Zuniga (22-5-0, 17 KOs)
* July 19th, 2003 – NABO Lightweight Title: Luis Villalta (29-4-1, 25 KOs) vs. Martin O’Malley (21-1-0, 14 KOs)
* August 29th, 2003 – NABF, NABO, NABA Middleweight Title: Kingsley Ikeke (17-1-0, 9 KOs) vs. Kenny Ellis (30-4-2, 19 KOs)
* April 3rd, 2004 – NABA Middleweight Title: Kenny Ellis (32-5-2, 21 KOs) vs. Darrell Woods (20-7-0, 15 KOs)
* April 8th, 2006 – NABA Light Welterweight Title: David Torres (14-0-0, 10 KOs) vs. Marteze Logan (22-22-2, 5 KOs)
* July 28th, 2007 – WBC Light Middleweight Title: Vernon Forrest (38-2-0, 28 KOs) vs. Carlos Baldomir (43-10-6, 13 KOs)
* September 1st, 2007 – IBO Super Middleweight Title: Fulgencio Zuniga (19-2-1, 16 KOs) vs. Victor Oganov (26-0-0, 26 KOs)
* April 12th, 2008 – NABO Cruiserweight Title: Ola Afolabi (11-1-3, 4 KOs) vs. Eric Fields (11-0-0, 9 KOs)
* August 2nd, 2008 – IBF Super Flyweight Title: Vic Darchinyan (29-1-1, 23 KOs) vs. Dmitry Kirillov (29-3-1, 9 KOs)
* August 29th, 2009 – NABA Super Middleweight Title: Kingsley Ikeke (25-3-0, 14 KOs) vs. Mark Woolnough (19-5-1, 6 KOs)
April 3rd, 2010 – NABA Super Middleweight Title: Kingsley Ikeke (26-3-0, 14 KOs) vs. Zane Marks (17-4-0, 10 KOs)
* December 11th, 2010 – IBF Bantamweight Title: Joseph Agbeko (27-2-0, 22 KOs) vs. Yonnhy Perez (20-0-1)
* December 11th, 2010 – IBO and WBC Silver Bantamweight Title: Abner Mares (20-0-1, 13 KOs) vs. Vic Darchinyan (35-2-1, 27 KOs)
Tickets to this Saturday’s “Battle at the Boat 90” start at $25 and are available at all Ticketmaster locations (including online) or call the Emerald Queen Casino box office at 1-888-831-7655.
Happy New Year Brian and here’s to many, many more years of the “Battle at the Boat” matchups!