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When fight fans head to the Emerald Queen Casino for a night of boxing, they should just expect to be surprised from here on out. Time and again, something happens in the ring during a Battle at the Boat that leaves fans shocked, excited, dumbfounded, or even outraged. This would be the case, yet again, on Friday, Jan. 12, at Battle at the Boat 114.

As a fight fan myself, there is nothing worse than watching a night of fights that just seem to drag on, without much emotion or electricity from the fighters involved. That energy, or lack of, finds its way outside of the ring and often the crowd becomes restless and rowdy. Worse yet, when the action is at a low enough ebb where you can barely tell that there is a crowd in the building.

Luckily, this hasn’t been the case at these EQC fights put together by Brian Halquist Productions. Sure, there has been some headscratchers over the years, but on a whole, fight fans have been very fortunate to have these fights in our own back yard for more than 20 years now.

As far as Battle at the Boat 114 went, it was a truly enjoyable night of action. For fight fans, there was a little bit of everything in the action and results. Some bouts would go the distance, while others ended so quickly, the crowd could hardly believe it as they leapt to their feet cheering for sudden impact.

To kick off the night, Carlos Villanueva would face Alex Cazac in a 185-pound bout. Cazac, fighting out of Portland, looked rather green and stiff, but he made up for it with determination. Both fighters were busy during their four rounds, without either of them getting a realistic edge over the other. It could have easily been a draw at bout’s end, but the judges ruled in favor of Villanueva with a split-decision.

The second fight of the night was one of those shockers.

Eddie Hunter entered the ring with a 10-13-2 record to face Fatlum Zhuta (4-0-1) in a 168-pound affair. Despite holding down 27 fights under his belt, Hunter was absolutely overwhelmed by the ferocity of Zhuta’s pressure from the opening bell. Hunter tried to respond, but ultimately withered under Zhuta’s onslaught. A right hand turned Hunter’s legs into rubber, and then a left hand sent him to the mat. In all, the fight was stopped just 39 seconds into the fight. The crowd was loving it and ready for more.

Those in attendance had no idea what was in store from the third bout of the night.

After an impressive fight at Battle at the Boat 113, Eduardo Torres returned to the ring to face Chris Varner, making his professional boxing debut. Varner, an experienced mixed martial artist, was scowling and yelling toward Torres as he made his way toward the ring. Upon entering, Varner would make a bee-line directly toward Torres’ corner. There, the newcomer would literally put himself nose-to-nose, as he hollered further threats. The referee sent him back to his corner. Meanwhile, the crowd at the EQC was already buzzing with anticipation.

When the opening bell rang, Varner came out swinging. While he connected on a few wild shots, Torres was able to get some solid punches in, and they were heavy. It soon became clear that this fight was not going to last long. Torres connected again and again, and when his left hook landed to the side of Varner’s head, the newcomer fell to the canvas like a bag of hammers. The fight was stopped just 42 seconds into the first round, and the EQC crowd was going absolutely nuts. One might have thought they had just witnessed a late knockout in the 10th round.

Crazy, shocking and brutal fights have a tendency of doing that to fight fans. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how long it all took. As long as it was accompanied by something explosive.

The fourth fight of the night was nothing short of fantastic. Another MMA veteran, Anthony Zender, would make his pro boxing debut against Jorge Linares, who was looking good with a 2-0-0 mark in his young career. Linares was clearly a better boxer, but Zender was bound and determined to give his opponent everything he had. By the time the fight had entered the fourth round, it appeared to be anybody’s fight to win. A bloodied Zender pushed it with everything he had until the final bell and was rewarded with a unanimous decision victory, despite losing a point earlier in the fight.

The fifth fight of the night was also the semi-main event. Tacoma legend Walter Wright was making his return to the ring against journeyman fighter Rafael Valencia. While it wasn’t the most exciting fight in recent memory, Wright kept things active during the six rounds. It was clear that the veteran still has a way to go as far as getting in shape, and he could have tied together more punch combos, as Valencia wasn’t going to fall from just a couple of shots here and there. As expected, Wright was a unanimous decision winner in the end.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Wright has after some more work, and against a sharper fighter.

The main event would pit John Jackson (17-3-2) against Manuel Perez (28-12-1) in a 138-pound contest. With 20 knockouts between the two fighters, it felt as though one of these men just might end the night with their back on the canvas. However, it wasn’t going to go that way, as the two fighters went at it for the full 10 rounds. Perez looked good early in the fight, and both fighters had considerable difficulty putting any sustained hurt on each other.

They were both just too fast.

Jackson would seemingly go into cruise control from the mid-rounds on, apparently feeling as though he had the fight well in hand. This proved to be a disastrous move by the fighter from Miami, as the judges awarded Perez a unanimous decision that left Jackson with his mouth agape. Furthermore, the fight wasn’t even close on two of the cards with one judge scoring it 99-92, and the other at 97-92.

Battle at the Boat 115 is set for Saturday, March 17. Not only is this St. Patrick’s Day, but it is also going to be a monumental evening at the EQC. Mark your calendars now.

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