John Leo Dato has quite the following.
His fans packed the Chumash Casino’s Samala Showroom to a sold-out Friday night when the World Fighting Championships returned to Santa Ynez for WFC 135.
The 28-year-old boxer from Santa Maria gave the more than 1,100 fans the show they wanted with a fifth-round knockout of Mexican boxer Rodrigo Guerrero in a 128-pound battle.
Dato was the headliner of a seven-fight card that included four professional fights and three amateur fights. The fight only lasted a few seconds before the crowd got into the action.
Singing “Dato, Dato, Dato” early and often, Dato, a graduate of Pioneer Valley High School, added his energy to hers.
“I hear them and appreciate their support,” Dato said. “The crowd motivates me but I don’t want to get too crazy and make a mistake.”
Dato took his time, getting a feel for Guerrero early on, then increasing his intensity with each subsequent round.
“He (Guerrero) is a former (IBF) bantamweight world champion (in 2011) so I knew he was a great fighter,” Dato said. “I knew I had to be patient and pick up the pace at every lap and our game plan worked.”
Dato kept the pressure on throughout.
He worked on his left jab in the first round and added left-right-left combos in the second.
A hard right rocked Guerrero late in round two, but he survived a flurry from Dato.
“I still had to be careful,” Dato said. “If I let him in a punch, he could have turned the fight around.”
Dato was top on all judges’ scorecards through the first four of eight scheduled rounds and in round five, Guerrero came out and squared off with Dato.
It was the beginning of the end.
A hard right to the head of Guerrero backed him up.
It started a punching onslaught, a barrage that only ended when referee Rudy Barragan stepped in to call the fight at 2:31 of the fifth round.
“I would like to thank my coaches and the fans,” Dato said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be here. My head trainer Raul Anguiano and my trainer Tony Ojeda and my trainer Ty Lee really prepared me for this fight.
With the victory, Dato improved his record to 17-1-1, returning to the win column after suffering his first professional loss, to Angel Antonio Contreras at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, his last outing on August 21. . , 2021.
Haley Pasion of Honolulu won the co-main event in a unanimous decision over Julia Perez of Paso Robles in a 126-pound battle in the only women’s bout on the card.
Pasion was quicker on the punch, racking up points with three-hit combos all the way.
“I knew I was the underdog so I had to attack and keep the pressure on,” Pasion said.
By the end of the four-round fight, Pasion had turned the crowd into fans.
“He’s a very tough opponent but once I landed that first good shot in the first round I knew I had it and as we got deeper into the fight I knew my strategy was working. . It gave me confidence,” Pasion said. “I thought, after the first round, that she would change her strategy, but she didn’t, so I kept shooting.”
Pasion traveled from Hawaii on her own – without a coach, coach or entourage, so WFC officials found local coaches to work in her corner.
“I took the fight on two days notice and came here on my own,” said Pasion, who works in construction in her home country. “I came along the way. I had to take a whole week off and I’m making more in two days than I did this fight, but I love boxing and you go where the fights are.
“When I arrived here, I didn’t know anyone but I made a lot of friends. I hope they will invite me for the next fights.
In other pro bouts, Bakersfield’s Jason Soto scored a unanimous decision over Visalia’s Michael Cook in a heavyweight bout and Fontana’s Moses Murrieta won a unanimous decision over Sun Valley’s Josue Vargas in another heavyweight battle. .
In amateur bouts, Juan Daniel Valazquez of Lompoc won a unanimous decision over Trevon McLemore of Riverside in a 144-pound bout; Santa Maria’s Raul Castellanos scored a second-round knockout over Fontana’s Andres Rosales in a 145-pound battle; and Kenny Dato Olpindo, younger brother of John Leo Dato, won the third-round knockout over Dequen Meeks of Las Vegas.
“The fights were all great. My accessories to all these fighters. They put on a great show,” WFC President Matt McGovern said. “It took a lot of good people to pull it all together and it all turned out well. We had another sale and I think the crowd got their money’s worth.”