By Neil Patrick Healy
Nevada’s Garrett Felling, one of the program’s most decorated fighters, narrowly avoided disaster on Friday but came away with his first win of the season by decision and the 12th of his career. Felling went up against Air Force’s Den Tati-Mackaya, who he faced to win the 195-pound national championship last year, to headline the evening’s season debut for Nevada boxing.
The fight was an awkward one for Felling. With Tati-Mackaya holding throughout the fight, it was hard for Felling to get into a rhythm.
“It’s just frustrating when you’re fighting against a guy that won’t give you the opportunity to throw any punches due to holding,” Felling said. “From my point of view it was excessive holding, and I probably let it get to me a little too much. I was trying to get big shots off because I knew I wasn’t going to get many because I was being held so much. I couldn’t throw combinations together. I could only throw one punch and he’d immediately grab.”
It wasn’t until the third and final round when drama ensued. Felling was given a standing 8-count by the referee midway through the third and it seemed as though the fight was decided.
“It’s up to the ref. It’s his call,” Felling said about the 8-count. “If he feels that one boxer is slightly less capable of defending himself at the moment, the ref’s going to make that call. And [the ref] made that call and I usually don’t question an 8-count call from a ref and that’s definitely one case where I wouldn’t. He’s doing what he can to protect the fighters. I have no gripes against that.”
But Felling came out and attacked the body, which resulted in some headshots becoming open to him. The final decision ultimately came out in his favor.
Nevada’s one loss on the main card was Britt Brown losing to Air Force’s Landon Tamacho in the 147-pound division via TKO in the third round. Coach Dan Holmes says he doesn’t disagree with the decision to end the fight in the third.
“You know we’re all about safety here,” Holmes said. “I’d rather have a TKO called so our kid goes home, studies and his brain works.”
The third fight had Nevada’s Zach Smith beating Air Force’s James Porter via decision in the 160-pound division.
The undercard for Nevada included wins from Dustin Congdon (132 pounds) and Nestor Ortiz (145 pounds) and losses from Dillon Maguin (139 pounds), Nate Strother (160 pounds) and Kennan O’Neill (180 pounds).
Neil Patrick Healy can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @NP_Healy