By Ricardo Ibarra
Current WBC United States (USNBC) cruiserweight champion Patrick Ferguson (10-0-1, 10 KOs) is set to make the first defense of his title this Thursday night at the Coeur d’Alene Casino in Worley, Idaho, headlining the Coeur d’Alene’s first ‘House of Fury’ card in nearly seven years. The unbeaten Ferguson will take on Topeka, Kansas’ Mario Munoz (12-4-1, 4 KOs) in a ten round bout, capping off the anticipated return of boxing to the once busy Pacific Northwest venue.
Ferguson will be stepping back into the ring just three months removed from making a 7,000-mile trip to Accra, Ghana in January to challenge for the vacant WBO Africa belt against Ghanaian prospect Abraham Tabul. Ferguson failed to claim the belt, battling to a ten round draw against the undefeated local, but in doing so he acquitted himself well in the fight and garnered some respect for going to his opponent’s homeland and making the attempt to claim another title.
The twenty-seven-year-old from Spokane, Washington had scored all of wins inside the distance up to that point, including a first round win over former super middleweight world title challenger Rubin Williams and, in his title winning effort last October, a fourth round stoppage win against former world heavyweight title challenger Damon Reed. The former US National amateur heavyweight champion, who is currently ranked #7 by the NABF and #11 by the NABA, will be fighting just thirty miles from Spokane, the closest he’s had to a hometown fight in his two years as a pro.
“It’s awesome fighting so close to Spokane,” said Ferguson. “I’m really looking forward to showing people at home what I can do. I was disappointed with my last fight because I know I’m capable of so much more. I didn’t feel too good about the performance. But I went in and worked hard, and I feel good about that.”
“I know Munoz is a tough, veteran type with a lot of experience. He stays composed and it looks like he punches pretty hard…I’m looking to show everyone that everything is improved. I’ve been working hard on my skills and I’m looking forward to showing it on Thursday.”
A two-time Kansas State cruiserweight title holder and current state champion, Munoz is looking to keep his recent momentum going after reclaiming his belt last September with a second round KO win over three-time rival Jim Franklin, avenging a six round split decision loss from 2016. The win was his second straight victory since losing to Franklin and marked a decisive ending to his local rivalry. The ten-year pro is 6-1-1 in his last eight fights.
Ferguson and Munoz will meet at the 200-pound limit with five other bouts making up the rest of the line-up.
In what could turn out to be one of the best fights on the card, Steven Villalobos (6-0-1, 5 KOs), of Burlington, Washington, will battle Visalia, California’s Jose Leon (6-2-1, 5 KOs) in the six round semi-main event. Villalobos turned pro in late 2016 after a relatively short amateur career and scored his first four wins in the opening round. He went the distance for the first time in July against tough journeyman Daniel Gonzalez, whom he clearly overwhelmed over four rounds to take a unanimous decision win. In his most recent fight, Villalobos fought to a five round split draw against Eduardo Torres in November. Leon is an equally aggressive fighter with a nine-fight, eight-year pro career. He’ll be looking to bounce back after a fifth round TKO loss to Fresno’s Joe Louis Lopez in September. The two will meet in the 154-pound weight class.
Unbeaten New Zealand cruiserweight prospect Craig Thomson (8-0, 4 KOs) will take on former UFC fighter Dennis Hallman (1-1), of Tacoma, in a six round match-up. Thomson will be looking for his ninth straight win in his American debut, fighting away from his native New Zealand for the first time in his career. In his last outing he scored a second round TKO win over Jody Allen in November. Hallman hasn’t fought since his 2014 DQ win over Justin Milani.
In other bouts, Spokane’s Sean Quinnett (3-3, 2 KOs) will face Kevin Davila (1-6-2) in a four round Jr. welterweight match-up; Tacoma’s Andre Keys (5-1, 1 KO) will square off with Northern California’s Shawn Harwood (0-1) in a Jr. middleweight contest; and popular Montana amateur Kadin LeCoure will make his professional debut against Lewiston, Idaho’s Ron Simmons (3-4-1, 2 KOs).
“We’ve managed to get some really great fights put together,” said event coordinator Sarah Welliver. “None of them are sure wins and will be matches that could go either way. We knew if we had the guts to say we could bring back The House of Fury, we had to deliver some serious stuff to the fight fans.”
The Coeur d’Alene’s ‘House of Fury’ was at one time one of the busier sites for the sport in the Pacific Northwest. Under the long-time leadership of former fighter and wrestler Moe Smith, the venue consistently staged memorable events, with fighters like Juan Manuel Marquez, Montel Griffin and Vassiliy Jirov fighting there. But after his passing, the boxing program at the venue eventually stalled. This upcoming card will be the first to take place there since October of 2011.
“There is not a person in this city that when you mention boxing doesn’t bring up Moe Smith,” said Welliver. “His name is synonymous with boxing and after years of hearing about him it is clear why…I’m just really thrilled we get this opportunity to honor him and what he meant to the sport.”
Doors to the event will open at 6 p.m. with the first bell set to ring at 7 p.m. Tickets are now on sale at the casino box office and online at https://www.cdacasino.com/event/house-fury-boxing/ Weigh-ins will be open to the public at 4 p.m. and take place at the casino. For more information visit www.cdacasino.com.