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Bunting edges O’Brien

By Shamus Young at ringside

Light Heavyweight LaFarrell Bunting improved to 18-3-1 at the expense of Matt O’Brien, now 18-2, by majority decision Saturday night at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, WA. The tactical bout featured as much feinting as punching, as both fighters waited for the other to act. O’Brien, who was boxing for just the second time in the last three years, had the harder punches and won exchanges when he put together combinations. However, O’Brien gave Bunting too much respect and mostly limited himself to single shots. When Bunting used his jab, he was able to create distance and land clean shots, but that was sporadic. The lack of action left the match for the taking of whichever fighter was slightly busier over the ten rounds. Two of the judges felt that was Bunting. Scores were 95-95, 96-94, and 97-93. Fightnews had it 95-95.

In the co-main event, Lightweight Francisco Reyes, 8-1, appeared to dominate Robert Vargas, 5-1, over five rounds but only received a split decision. Reyes used his awkward style and accurate punching to defend and counter Vargas’ consistent but ineffective pressure. Vargas was cut by a punch in round one, but it was not a factor in the fight. Scores were 48-47 for Vargas, 48-47 for Reyes and 50-45 for Reyes. Fightnews had it 50-45 for Reyes.

Light Heavyweight LaFarrell Bunting improved to 18-3-1 at the expense of Matt O’Brien, now 18-2, by majority decision Saturday night at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, WA. The tactical bout featured as much feinting as punching. It seemed both men wanted to counterpunch, though when given the opportunity they did not counterpunch. O’Brien was boxing for just the second time in the last three years, but didn’t appear to be rusty. O’Brien had the harder punches and won exchanges when he put together combinations. However, he gave Bunting too much respect and limited himself to single shots. When Bunting used his jab, he was able to create distance and land clean shots, but that was sporadic. The lack of activity brought down boos from the crowd and left the match for the taking of the fighter that was slightly busier over the ten rounds. O’Brien finally let his hands go in the final round and won that handily. That was not enough in the eyes of the judges. Scores were 95-95 and 96-94, and 97-93 for Bunting. Fightnews had it 95-95.

In the co-main event, Lightweight Francisco Reyes, 8-1, appeared to dominate Robert Vargas, 5-1, over five rounds, but only received a split decision. Reyes used his awkward style and accurate punching to defend and counter Vargas’ consistent but ineffective pressure. Vargas was cut by a punch in round one, but it was not a factor in the fight. Scores were 48-47 for Vargas, 48-47 for Reyes and 50-45 for Reyes. Fightnews had it 50-45 for Reyes.

Nate Smith, 4-3-2, returned to the ring after a four year hiatus and also moved up two weight classes to Super Middleweight. Smith not only had ring rust, but was facing a naturally much bigger man in Eddie Hunter, 5-4-2. Hunter overwhelmed Smith with crisp, hard punches from the opening bell. Smith appeared hurt near the end of the third round and then Hunter inexplicably coasted through the fourth. In the fifth and final round, Hunter charged out with a flurry of punches that battered Smith around the ring and dropped him hard. Referee Paul Field immediately waved the bout off. Time of the stoppage was 1:32.

Junior Middleweight Natividad Serrano had an impressive debut with a second round TKO over Roman Wheeler (0-2). Both men are pressure fighters who slugged it out in the middle of the ring. Serrano’s punches were straighter and harder and he punished Wheeler for the first round. In the second round, Serrano added an uppercut and focused on the body. Shortly after a hook to the liver buckled Wheeler, he turned away and claimed he had been poked in the eye and couldn’t continue. Referee Terrance Moody called a halt to the bout at 2:00 of round two.

Virgil Green improved to 2-0 with a four round shutout over Nalo Leal, 3-10-1. Green is a tall and lanky Junior Welterweight with fast hands. However, he gives up his height advantage by squaring up and punching with wide shots. The game Leal was able to throw Green off stride by boring in and holding but that was not enough to win rounds. If Green can straighten out and turn over his punches – and if his footwork improves so he can keep distance – he has quite a future. All judges and Fightnews had it 40-36.

The opening match featured Junior Lightweight Rob Diesel, 5-2, stopping Kendall Ward, 0-2, in the second of a scheduled four. Diesel started slowly and Ward pounced on him. Fightnews gave the close round to Ward. To start the second round, Diesel swarmed Ward with so many punches that referee Terrance Moody called a technical knockdown on the ropes. Seconds later, Diesel stunned Ward with a left hook and caught him with a straight right on the way to the mat. Ward barely beat the count but was soon down again without a clean punch landing. Moody waved the fight off at 1:43 of round two.

The card was the 80th Battle at the Boat presented by Brian Halquist Productions. The next installment is scheduled for March 19, 2011.

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