Brian Halquist Productions will kick of its 2020 season with the 125th installment of the Battle at the Boat boxing series on Friday at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash.
A 10-round welterweight fight between Andre Keys (12-1) and Dannie Williams (23-3) will main event the six-bout card, which will also feature a semi main event between Antonio Neal and Niko McFarland and an undercard clash between undefeated fighters Jose Cervantes and Cody Brown.
“Andre has won 11 straight fights and is coming off his first main event win. This is easily the biggest fight of his career,” promoter Brian Halquist said. “Williams is a veteran who has been in the ring with some of the bet fighters in the world. This should be a thrilling main event.”
Tickets are available through the EQC box office and all Ticketmaster Outlets. Preliminary bouts will start at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Keys, a native of Tacoma, defeated Manuel Monteiro by decision at Battle at the Boat 124 on Nov. 9. It marked the first time Keys went 10rounds during his career.
“(This showed me) Andre is ready to go 10 strong rounds under the pressure of his home crowd. He has always been poised and patient in his temperament, and I think the extra rounds allowed that layers of his game to showcase,”said Keys’ trainer Nathaniel Glenn. “I was most pleased with his 10-round fitness and stamina. He looked very professional.”
After opening his career 12-0, Williams suffered his first defeat against Washingtonian Eloy Perez in a bout for the vacant World Boxing Council United States featherweight champion on Sept. 12, 2009. He responded to the loss by reeling off nine consecutive victories, highlighted by a win over Manuel Leyva for the interim World Boxing Council Continental Americas lightweight title in 2011, before losing to Henry Lundy in 2012.
Williams built his record to 22-2 before losing to John Molina Jr in 2013 in a fight for the vacant World Boxing Organization NABO lightweight title.
It marked his last fight since returning to the ring in April when he defeated Ronald Rivas by majority decision in his hometown of St.Louis.
Now with nine full months of training, the ring rust is gone, and Williams looks to climb back into title contention. A win over rising star Keys would go a long way in making that a reality.
“My opponent is a former top contender with 18 KOs to his record,” Keys said. “He has good skills and a lot of experience. I will be in top shape and look to be a technical boxer on fight night.”
Headlining the undercard will be a 4-round welterweight bout between Cervantes (1-0) and Brown (1-0).
Fighting on the undercard of Battle atthe Boat 124, Cervantes notched his first career victory by defeating avery-game Nikolas Vasquez by second-round knockout.
“Winning my first professional fight was amazing. I felt accomplished. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for several years now. For one reason or another I wasn’t able to go pro, but we made it,” Cervantes said. “And winning by knock out on the second round, what a night.”
He didn’t have much time to celebrate the win, however, as a little more than an hour after he won, Cervantes was rushing to the hospital to be by his wife’s side as she delivered their third child.
“It was an amazing day. That morning I took her to the hospital, stayed with her hoping the baby would come out, but it didn’t,” Cervantes said. “I stayed until I had to leave for the fight. I got to the casino got ready for the fight, fought, won and smashed out to the hospital. As soon as I was entering the freeway, she sends me a picture that he was born. It was a baby boy we named Ezekiel. An amazing night, man. I won my first pro fight and my third baby was born.”
Cervantes will face Brown, who also picked up his first career victory by knock out on the Battle at the Boat 124 card. Brown, who fights out of Chicago, defeated Dylan Blakesley by first-round KO.
“I didn’t get a chance to see him fight since I had to rush out the building,” Cervantes said about Brown. “But I prepare for every fight like if I’m going into war, like if I’m fighting for a championship belt. I never take it light. So, I’ll be more than prepared for whatever he brings.”
Additional undercard bouts include a170-pound fight between Seattle’s Juan Jackson and Joe Aguilar and a 136-pound contest between Louis De Alba and Marco Garcia.
“Luis is a very talented boxer with a lot of experience and knowledge in boxing,” said Francisco Reyes, De Alba’s trainer. “Luis has been working with us for a few months now. What we like about Luis is that he listens to us and works hard in the gym. We’ve talked about his previous fights and what we can do to get the wins. We’re definitely working on that and having the sparring that Luis has now will make a difference in his performance. He’s looking to win for sure.”
Garcia made his pro debut at Battle at the Boat 124, fighting William Parra Smith, who entered the fight having knocked out three out of his last five opponents, to a split draw.
“I was actually super nervous heading into that fight,” Garcia said. “Normally, I’m not like that when I get in there, but with it being my debut it did make me nervous.”
Despite the butter flies, Garcia exited the final with one crystal clear thought.
“The moment I got through the ropes I knew I wanted to get back in there,” Garcia said. “I asked to get me on the very next card.”
Battle at the Boat 125 Card
Friday, Jan.17, 2020
10 Round Main Event – Welterweight
Andre Keys (12-1) vs. Dannie Williams (23-3)
6 Round Semi-Main Event – Welterweight
145-pounds: Antonio Neal (5-12) vs. Niko McFarland (4-5-2)
4 Round Undercard Bouts
170-pounds: Juan Jackson (2-2) vs. Joe Aguilar (0-0)
136-pounds: Louis De Alba (0-3) vs. Marco Garcia (0-0-1)
144-pounds: Jose Cervantes (1-0) vs. Cody Brown (1-0)
Heavyweights: Nick Mills (2-0) vs. Michael Johnson (0-0)