Tyson shutouts Soto
2,000 Strong support Prince of Hali
By Cecil Wright
Photography By Paul Adams
Tyson 'Prince of Hali' Cave defended his WBC Continental Americas super bantamweight title by pitching a complete shutout over Mexican challenger Jovanny 'Bambino' Soto in the main event at the Halifax Forum Saturday night. All three judges at ringside scored the bout 100-90 as Cave earned the unanimous decision triumph. Cave’s record improves to 17-2 while Soto drops to 32-13-1.
Cave set the pace from the opening bell by stalking his man and lighting him up with perpetual jabs and a few blistering combinations to Soto’s head. Cave continued to control the action throughout the early rounds as he stung Soto early and often with both hands while his unorthodox style was causing real problems for his opponent.
So dominant was Cave that the only time he was touched through the first four rounds was when he and Soto were separated by referee Craig Smith upon the break command. He was nimble and tricky with his footwork, and by the middle rounds he was able to easily penetrate Soto’s defense and fire solid hooks to the head and body in addition to working his combinations off the jab. It was the fifth round when Soto finally scored with a clean blow, a left hook to Cave’s midsection.
The Prince began unleashing fierce hooks and uppercuts in the sixth when he rocked Soto with a series of three-punch combinations. He was particularly effective on the inside and punished Soto repeatedly to the body. In the later rounds, Cave knew the outcome was obvious but never strayed too far from his game plan of popping and frustrating. He bloodied Soto’s nose in the ninth while seeming to invite trouble by allowing Soto to corner him and fire away a bit before reversing positions and peppering the Mexican with both hands.
In the final round, Cave came out dancing and prancing. It’s apparent that his style is going to feature his mobility and the herky-jerky, now-you-see-me, now-you-don’t defense. Cave is never going to be a knockout artist and he will occasionally infuriate some of the so-called purists of the sweet science with his antics. But there is a noticeable improvement in his conditioning and his punching. You can see where he would be having difficulty in landing quality opponents because his style is very unpredictable and hard to decipher. Ask Soto, AJ Banal or Nestor Bolum.
After the bout, an emotional Cave addressed the crowd and thanked them for coming out to support boxing in Halifax. He mentioned that he wanted to be like Chris Clarke, Ricky Anderson and Art Hafey when he was growing up. “They said that boxing was dead in Halifax but here we have two thousand fans and I think we proved them wrong” he said before finally thanking and embracing his dad and promoter, Robert Cave.
When I caught up with him in his dressing room, he stated that this win over an elite fighter like Soto, should put him in line for a shot at a top ranked opponent. “Team Cave plans another fight in June and is looking to do more damage on the international scene after that. I want to move up in the rankings and am looking for another elite fight. I don’t care who it is because I am ready. I had a great training camp with Bunny Phillips and Karim Collett and the power’s coming. You saw I hurt him a few times but he’s a professional and was able to weather the storm. He was hard to knockout so I just kept my composure and did what I do. I beat him up and looked good doing it. I’m really proud to be part of bringing this great sport back to prominence in Halifax and hopefully we can earn another title here soon.”
Nothing settled in Crossroads Encounter
In the co-main event, Nova Scotia tough guy Jason Naugler and Quebec’s Martin Desjardins mixed it up for six rounds. Naugler got out of the gate quickly with some thunderous left hooks to the head and body but Desjardins was able to find the range as the fight continued. He bloodied Naugler’s nose with a right uppercut in the third round and the fight was close from that point forward. Naugler regained control in the fifth using a variety of combinations to take control again but Desjardins made the final round very close with some nice head combinations. Judges scoring was 57-57, 58-56 and 56-58 for the draw.
Lower Sackville native, Joey Laviolette made an impressive debut by flooring Lethbridge’s Dave McQuaker with a right hand to the temple at 1:17 of round one. Laviolette showed very quick hands from the outset and it was simply a matter of when the determining blow would come, not if. Laviolette is someone to keep a close eye on in the future as his amateur experience should prove to be a good foundation for his professional career.
Ryan McGrady of Truro, NS earned a split decision victory in his professional debut over Moncton’s Marcel Maillet in a four round tilt. Both men constantly tied the other up making it difficult to fire away with lots of clean shots. McGrady scored early with a stinging right and left hook to the head, but Maillet jabbed his way in and landed a nice right hook to the head in round two. The last two rounds were very close but McGrady eked it out with scores of 39-37, 39-37 and 37-39.
Aaron Crawley of East Preston, NS handed Moncton’s Norman Peters his ninth loss by using an effective jab to win his pro debut. Crawley used a decided reach advantage to keep Peters at bay throughout the bout. He put together some decent combinations in the last two rounds but basically stayed with the plan of sticking that long jab in Peters’ bloody face all night long to win by scores of 40-36 on all cards.
Connors outworks MMA's Goodall
Miramichi’s Travis Connors gave a workmanlike effort in defeating Halifax mixed martial artist Ricky Goodall. Connors stayed busy, especially on the inside and earned a unanimous decision by identical scores of 39-37 on all three cards. Connors never appeared to be in trouble and put his punches together very well especially in the first two rounds when he bloodied Goodall’s nose. Goodall gave a determined effort also but Connors’ experience was a definite advantage.
MacNeil turns up heat on Watts
Dartmouth’s Kyle MacNeil was cut underneath his right eye by what was ruled a headbutt by Winnipeg veteran Tim Watts moments into the contest. From that point, the Nova Scotian battered Watts with strong combinations from pillar to post in earning a unanimous decision. MacNeil showed quick hands, steady footwork and looked to finish his man especially after rocking Watts and scoring a third round knockdown with a solid right to the head.
Millier earns UD
In a very entertaining bout, Big Cove’s Nathan Millier weathered the early storm from Stephane Landry to earn a unanimous decision. Landry came out firing at the bell but Millier kept his composure and took home a well-earned victory. Millier scored the only knockdown of the fight on the strength of a series of right hands to the head. Millier, who has no previous amateur experience, is an up-and-comer.
Entertaining draw in opener
In a spirited opener, Nova Scotians Matt MacLennan and Ryan Burgess fought to a draw in a contest which saw both men bleeding by the end of round one. Burgess tried to work off his jab while MacLennan tried to get inside and rough his man up. This fight was punctuated by entertaining exchanges and solid body work by both men. Scores were 39-37, 37-39 and 38-38.