Proud to sport an artistic rendition of Colorado-born heavyweight legend Jack Dempsey on the backside of his "Old School Boxing" hooded sweatshirt, Terry Buterbaugh knew he'd have to summon up some old-school grit to go rounds inside a La Plata County ring with a local icon.
And even more to punch - literally, as well as figuratively - above his weight class.
"I had to work on keeping the weight on instead of taking it off, you know?" Buterbaugh, proprietor of the Colorado Springs-based OSB gym, joked afterwards. He fought Saturday night against Ignacio's Elco Garcia in the co-main event of Left Hook Promotions' 'March Boxing Madness' card, staged inside Sky Ute Casino Resort Events Center.
Hungry for his 30th professional win, Garcia was the aggressor from the opening bell and put the heat on Buterbaugh with multiple flurries, while Buterbaugh was more reliant on a potent overhand right, which he only managed to land more or less cleanly on a couple occasions.
"I did a couple decent ones, but not like I wanted," he said. "Two weight classes heavier than I'm used to fighting's...just too much weight for me. And he was just longer than I was expecting, I guess."
Peppering away with an effective left jab and able to more freely pick his power shots, Garcia was in control of the fight by the end of the third (of six scheduled) round, though Buterbaugh went into the fourth on his feet.
Unfortunately for him, Garcia continued to administer punishment and did noticeable damage with a right-left combo pinning Buterbaugh back in his own corner. And in Round 5, Garcia continued landing measured straight rights, though his opponent not only stayed upright but also began jawing at "The Animal" between blows.
Knowing a knockout was the only thing likely to save Buterbaugh, Garcia unloaded in the sixth and the bout ended with Garcia again having backed and battered Buterbaugh into a corner, securing a 60-54, 60-54, 60-54 unanimous decision.
Still with 13 KOs to his name, Garcia improved to 30-10-0 while Buterbaugh dipped to 11-12-3 (5 KO), but with knowledge of the middle/super-middleweight division he could apply towards his next fight.
"Probably going to 147, like I've been," he said, implying a return to welterweight. "160's too much."
Having held world titles from featherweight to lightweight to super-welter, "Amazing" Layla McCarter proved too much at welterweight for Albuquerque, New Mexico's Victoria Cisneros in the night's main attraction.
Moving well from the start, but admittedly not as well during the third, fourth and fifth frames (10 two-minute rounds had been scheduled), McCarter showed she'd returned to form in Round 6 by evading one Cisneros approach so quickly that before Cisneros could turn around, McCarter was already catching a quick breather on the opposite side of the ring-not worried that her own back was turned.
"I was just taking a nice angle, and it made her look particularly, not too good," the Mayweather Promotions-backed McCarter said. "But when I'm on my game, I use my angles a lot and it was kind of fun."
"I started getting a little careless the third, fourth rounds, and getting in the clinch - where I didn't need to be - to make it difficult. I could have just boxed all day," she continued. "But I gave the people a good show, I think, and blood always adds extra drama."
Having swelled Cisneros' left orbital to a size concerning to the ring physician, McCarter continued attacking the overt target into the eighth round. Veteran referee Stephen Blea waved the fight off 28 seconds in against Cisneros' claims she was fine to continue, and McCarter herself sensed she could have.
"Victoria, she's got the heart of a lion. And she's not going to quit for anything," McCarter stated. "So when I saw the referee taking a good look at her, I made sure I put on the pressure so he'd stop it. She's a very tough individual."
With the technical knockout upping her stoppage count to 11 and improving her to 41-13-5 overall, McCarter departed with the Women's International Boxing Federation and Global Boxing Union World Welterweight title belts, though both likely have an 'interim' prefix attached as German Verena Kaiser (10-0-0, 5 KO) is set to defend the same titles-which she'd won in Sept. 2017-next month in Sweden.
"There's always pressure, especially when you have your family and friends counting on you to do what you're supposed to do. But it was a good kind of pressure, and I felt really good going in," said McCarter, who is based in Las Vegas.
"I felt very relaxed," she added. "This is like fighting at home for me; I've fought here for 18 years, this crowd is very appreciative and they love me here! I feel grateful to be able to fight at Sky Ute Casino again."
Buterbaugh, having made his second-ever trip to the site, expressed similar sentiment:
"It's a good place to come."
ON THE UNDERCARD: Returning to action in Ignacio for the first time since defeating Buterbaugh in May 2015, Aztec, New Mexico's "Ironman" Joe Martinez (formerly Gomez) knocked out Denver's Corey Alarcon 2 minutes, 54 seconds into the second of six scheduled super-welterweight rounds.
"I was predicting the fourth," said Martinez (21-7-1, 10 KO), a 2003 Aztec High graduate who wore black trunks with Tiger orange trim for the bout. "But the sooner the better, so it's all good!
The well-traveled Alarcon dropped to 17-21-1 (4 KO), but Martinez knew he'd have to work hard to win.
"Fighting at Sky Ute, the electricity - the energy - is amazing, you know?" he said. "Especially going against somebody like Corey; he's fought a lot of world champs, and he's gone the distance with a lot of guys. For me to stop him in the second round really meant a lot."
In the event's third bout, Arturo Izquierdo, born in Costa Rica but now calling Las Vegas home (he's been a sparring partner of Floyd 'Money' Mayweather, Jr.), was a TKO winner over Zamir Young, with the bout officially stopped 2:07 into the fifth of six scheduled rounds.
"My fighting style is always uncomfortable for anyone I get in the ring with," said the southpaw. "I wanted to make it quicker, but I think I made a pretty good show. I'm not completely satisfied, but I'm glad that everyone enjoyed it."
Just 23 years old, Izquierdo improved to 5-0-0 (2 KO) while Young dipped to 2-7-1, and the former Summer Olympics (London 2012) hopeful provided the quote of the night:
"Sometimes you win, sometimes you got to keep training harder."
Shaking off a slip to the canvas early in Round 2, Durango's Miguel Gallegos was a 39-37, 39-37, 40-36 winner over Farmington's Joe Barela in the second bout, following four frames at welterweight.
"I hadn't fought in eight years until the last time I fought," he said, "and it's hard when you haven't heard much of a guy fighting in a long time, you don't know what he's going to do!"
Utilizing a jab- and counterpunch-based approach, and nearly putting Gallegos (5-1-1, 1 KO) into the ropes and on the verge of going down early in Round 3 with a solid left hook, Barela (5-4-0, 2 KO) still relished his long-awaited return.
"You know, it's been nine years since I'd been in the ring," he said, having not fought since May '08, "and I felt strong. I could tell the mistakes I made, and I know what I need to fix, but I felt really good. When I came out, I just felt the audience."
"I had a lot of ring rust," he added. "Like, I knew what I needed to do, but my body wasn't letting me. I'm going to try to get a couple more fights in, talk to the promoter, and I'll try to get a rematch!"
Finally, Shiprock, N.M., super-middleweight Steve Victor won by 40-36, 40-36, 40-36 unanimous decision over Billings, Montana's Daniel Gonzales in the opening bout, and improved to 3-7-2 while Gonzales fell to 12-43-2 (4 KO).
"First of all, I'd like to thank God for this victory," he said. "I just kind of stepped in with the jab, kind of to see what he had. He's an experienced fighter, way more fights than me, and I wanted to take that first round. I'll look forward to another win, keep training hard and working at it."