By Shamus Young at ringside
Junior welterweight contender Zahir Raheem (33-3, 20 KOs) scored a fourth round TKO over Justin Juuko (45-12-1, 30 KOs) on Saturday night at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington. Juuko’s legs looked shot in this bout; he never could find his balance and stumbled often. Every punch that Raheem landed put Juuko in danger of toppling over. The only reason the bout made it to the fourth round is that Raheem had a slow start, choosing to pot-shot for the first two and a half rounds. Midway through the third, Raheem started to string combinations together and overwhelmed his man. Juuko went to his knee moments after the bell sounded to end the third. Raheem opened the fourth with a fusillade of combos and backed Juuko into his own corner. Juuko was withering under the punishment when his corner threw in the towel and referee Bobby Howard waved the bout off. Time of TKO was 0:27. The win marks the second definitive stoppage in the former featherweight and lightweight contender Raheem’s comeback bid.
In the co-main event, welterweight Gabriel Pineda scored a hard fought unanimous decision over Dave Petryck. Neither fighter cared much for defense, they were physically comparable, and both fighters scored several head-snapping blows in each of the six rounds. The difference was technique. Petryck was a wild and sloppy punching machine, tallying several low blows and a headbutt over the fight. Pineda threw straighter and more accurate punches in equal volume, and therefore racked up more sweat halos per round. One judge scored the fight 59-55. The other judges and Fightnews had it 60-54. With the win, Pineda moves to 4-0-2 and Petryk falls to 4-4-1.
Junior middleweight Zachary Cooper (2-0-1) of Seattle had a raucous hometown crowd cheering him on, but being too tentative early on and too careless late cost him the chance for a victory over Charon Spain (0-2-1). Spain was a tougher opponent than his record would suggest. Spain was considerably bigger, awkward, and had a great chin. Cooper was faster and more accurate. However, Cooper waited for spots to open up instead of creating them with the jab. His inactivity made the first round close. Cooper found a few good spots in the second and stunned Spain. Cooper’s inexperience got the best of him and he inaccurately swarmed the dazed Spain, letting him off the hook. This repeated in the third. Cooper seemed to be winning the fourth easily when he tried too hard to finish the show and was seriously buzzed by a Spain right hand. Cooper wobbled around the ring and held until the fight ended. Cooper had to settle for a majority draw. Two judges had it 38-38. One judge and Fightnews had it 39-37 for Cooper.
The performance of the night went to welterweight Antonio Neal (2-0) in his third round stoppage of Juan Carlos “The Mexicutioner” Rodriguez (1-2). The Mexicutioner appeared to be two weight classes bigger than Neal. Rodriguez gave up much of his height and reach advantage by hunching, throwing wide, and infrequently pawing a lazy jab. Rodriguez was able to flummox Neal for much of the first round, but one could see Neal figuring him out. By the start of the second round, Neal was able to get inside with brutal combinations, mixing in body and head shots equally. Rodriguez went down at the end of the second, but it was ruled a slip. In the third, a barrage of punches put Rodriguez on the canvas. He beat the count, but Neal hopped on him with a barrage of clean punches, forcing referee Louis Jackvony to halt the bout. Time of TKO was 1:32. An impressive performance against an awkward opponent.
Junior welterweight Ricardo Maldonado (3-0) won a unanimous decision over Cory Vom Baur (2-2). The southpaw Maldonado had a reach advantage and was able to control the distance of the fight with his jab for the first three rounds. Vom Baur appeared to be the harder hitting of the two, but was unable to counter Maldonado’s jab and unwilling to employ his own. In the final round, Vom Baur threw caution to the wind and was able to overwhelm Maldonado at points, but it was too little too late. All judges and Fightnews scored the fight 39-37.
Welterweight MMA fighter Drew Brokenshire made his fistic debut against William Fernandez. Brokenshire started the fight using a classic boxing stance, but like many MMA converts before him, quickly abandoned that in favor of squaring up and lunging with punches at odd angles. Normally that spells doom against someone using traditional boxing skills such as Fernandez. Indeed, Brokenshire was unable to land much in the first round and Fernandez was able to outwork him. Brokenshire was able to win the remaining rounds because he was stronger and more athletic. Two judges had it 40-36 for Brokenshire. One judge and Fightnews had it 39-37.
Marcello Gallardo and Anthony Smith both made their debut at lightweight. Smith is from the Mayweather camp and perhaps tried too hard to emulate his leader. Smith spent so much time playing cutesy defense that he forgot to punch enough to win. Gallardo swarmed Smith from the opening bell. Smith blocked and ducked many of those shots and did land a few impressive counterpunches. However, the shots that Gallardo slipped through the defense scored too many points for Smith to make up with his scattered counters. Gallardo coasted through the third round and Smith was able to win it with a few good shots. Gallardo picked up a majority decision with scores of 39-37 twice and 38-38. Fightnews had it 39-37.
The card was the 92nd installment of Brian Halquist Productions’ popular Battle at the Boat series.