On Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. While there’s no scientific backing for any of Phil’s claims (he is right just 39 percent of the time), Navy sure had a cold night against Nevada boxing on Feb. 2 in the Eldorado Ballrooms, winning just a quarter of the team’s fights that night.
Following some pre-fight introductions, Nevada boxing’s Dustin Congdon electrified the crowd with the team’s first fight of the night. Congdon has yet to be defeated this season, and he’s never fallen to a military branch in his short stint as a boxer. Just as any boxer does, Congdon has a couple of go-to moves.
“Yeah, my money shot,” Congdon said. “The left hand and the hook. That’s my signature move. It worked on the other Navy dude. In regionals I dropped him with it.”
That “other Navy dude” Congdon fought in regionals was actually set to face off against Congdon, but according to Navy boxer Jake Clary, Congdon’s original opponent broke his hand. Teammates of Congdon’s joked that the Navy boxer didn’t want to face Congdon again.
Clary took his teammate’s place against Congdon, fighting up a few weight classes. Originally a 119-pound fighter, fighting in the 130 pound weight class. The discrepancy between the two in size was hard to miss. Many spectators were surprised by Clary’s resilience because Congdon was landing everything he threw. If you wanted to learn what whiplash in the making looks like all you had to do was watch Clary’s head snap back five to six times a round. Congdon won by unanimous decision putting Nevada Boxing at 1-0 for the night.
Next up for Nevada came Dillon Maguin and boy is he a hometown favorite. By the way the crowd reacted to his name being announced you’d think he had some family relation with everyone in attendance.
Maguin got off to a slow start this season with an opening loss at home but has since turned it around. He got his record back to .500 a week prior to the Feb. 2 fight, with a big win in Seattle, Washington. Riding high on that win, Maguin was looking more comfortable than ever in the ring this past Friday.
“I wanted to get the win, so I came in focused and relaxed with everything I was trying to do, blocking out everyone else,” Maguin said.
That strategy did wonders for him as he landed a heaping of blows on his Navy opponent throughout three rounds of battling. Maguin knew he had slower footwork so he made it a point to keep his head moving and try to catch his opponent punches. But in the second round, Maguin figured out his opponent’s strategy.
“I knew he was going to be a little bit slower in combinations or just a one puncher and that’s what he did,” Maguin said. “He just wanted to bait you in and throw that hook.”
Maguin ultimately won the match, putting Nevada Boxing at 2-0 for the night.
Following two fights from a few other teams in attendance, Nevada’s late addition Dillon Raatz competed in the first boxing fight of his career. While he did lose the fight it wasn’t from lack of effort. Raatz was completely gassed in the second round and wasn’t protecting himself so his corner threw in the towel for him. Although Raatz didn’t win, he did learn a great deal from the fight.
“I just couldn’t breathe,” Raatz said. “Sparring is completely different. You’re not going full pace like that. It definitely humbled me. Thought I was going to go in and do what I usually can do.”
Raatz loss put Nevada at 2-1 for the night, with one fight to go.
Nate Strother came out looking poised for another big win. After starting the season on a slump, losing a close one in the team’s home opener and another close fight in New York a few weeks later, Strother’s hopes of fighting in regionals began looking meek. But just a weekend before the team’s fight last Friday, Strother took two big wins home in Seattle, Washington. With his record sitting at 2-2, he was hoping to get over the .500 mark for the first time this season and he would do just that, defeating his opponent by decision.
With Strother’s win, Nevada made out like bandits, losing just one match on the night. Nevada boxing’s captain Zack Smith did not participate in the event, despite cutting weight, because his opponent had a concussion.
Nevada boxing comes back into town for the NCBA Regionals on Mar. 15-16, to see which fighters will step onto the National stage to end another storied season for the program.