Boxing back in Salem, Oregon

By Ricardo Ibarra

Regional promoter Pure Combat will stage a mixed combat sports event this Saturday at the Salem Armory in Salem, Oregon, with over twenty total contests scheduled. Boxing, Muay Thai, mixed martial arts, and kickboxing, will all be showcased, with five professional boxing matchups slated for the card. Topping the boxing portion of the lineup will be unbeaten Oregonian Chris Johnson (6-0, 1 KO) squaring off with Seattle area fighter Niko McFarland (4-4-2, 1 KO) in a five-round bout.

Johnson, a crafty southpaw fighting out of Bend, Oregon, was a successful Pacific Northwest amateur before turning pro in March of 2018. He’s racked up six straight wins since entering the paid ranks, with four victories under his belt in 2019 so far. In his last outing, he claimed a five round unanimous decision win over durable journeyman Antonio Neal in September.

McFarland, of Kent, Washington, is proving to be a better fighter than his early record would suggest. He began his pro career in 2016 suffering four consecutive losses, although two of those came against rising undefeated prospect Giovanni Cabrera Mioletti in competitive fights. He changed course a year into his pro career, though, going 4-0-2 in his next six fights. He last fought in June, battling to a four round majority draw against Nick Brindise.

“This fight could go either way,” said matchmaker Leonard Gabriel. “It’ll come down to who wants it more. Johnson has looked good as a young prospect, but this will be the toughest fight he’s had to date. This will tell us a lot about where he’s at. We’ll see if he has what it takes to get to that next level, and I think he has the potential to do so. But McFarland is not a push over. He doesn’t have a great record, but he’s been in some wars against some good fighters. He’s coming to win…I’m excited for this fight.”

Johnson and McFarland will face off over five rounds at the 154 lbs. limit with four additional fights making up the remainder of the pro boxing side of the card.

Popular Portland lightweight Lorenzo Caldera (2-0, 2 KO) will step back into the ring looking to add his third win as pro, taking on Anthony Zender (1-4) in a four-round bout. Caldera, who was a standout local amateur, competing in over one hundred bouts, has shown some potential as a pro. He broke into the paid ranks with a first-round drubbing of Jerold Gregori in April and followed that up with a first-round win over Phillip Schwartz in August. Zender, meanwhile, will be looking to break a four-fight losing run. He last fought in September, suffering a third-round stoppage loss to Christian Camarena in California.

Also on the card will be undefeated Jr. welterweight Nino Delgado (3-0, 2 KOs) taking on Justin Horsley in a four rounder; lightweights Bryan Sanchez and Ryan Atteberry facing off in a four round battle of pro debuters; and lastly Portland’s Joe Aguilar making his entrance into the pro game against an opponent to be announced soon. The rest of the card will feature pro and amateur MMA, kickboxing and Muay Thai.

“We’re trying to build fans on both sides,” said Leonard Gabriel of the promotion’s goal. “We’re putting all these disciplines together in one ring. Its pure combat. Every combat sport there is, we have in one ring on one night. Fight fans that may not go to other combat sports events because they don’t have an interest in them or maybe they haven’t been exposed to them get to see it all with our card…They’re different sports but they’re very similar. The sacrifice and the discipline these fighters make is all the same…We want to expose fans to that so they can appreciate them all.”

“Fans can expect a great night at the fights,” continued Gabriel. “We have a fight for every combat sports spectator. Whether its kickboxing, Muay Thai, MMA, boxing, we have it. We have a lot of young up and coming athletes…A lot of guys looking to break through…We have it all. You need to need to be at the Salem Armory November 16th.”

Doors to the event will open at 4 p.m. with the preliminary card set to start at 5 p.m. For more information visit the Pure Combat Facebook page. The card is also scheduled to stream on FITE TV PPV.

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