March 19, 2013
By David Hayes
Issaquah boxer returns to the ring at Battle of the Boat
Dex Montenegro knows how to make an entrance.
See this 28-year-old around his Klahanie home and he’s not much more than a nice, soft-spoken gentleman.
However, shine a spotlight in his face, put him in a Michael Myers’ mask and blast the theme to “Halloween” over the sound system, and suddenly Montenegro has one of the more memorable ring entrances on the local mixed martial arts circuit.
After taking a couple years off to deal with personal issues and concentrate on raising his three daughters, the Hawaiian native hopes to continue to make a splash on the local sports scene as a dual threat, in boxing and fighting MMA matches for Halquist Productions. His third professional bout is March 23 on the undercard for the Battle at the Boat 91 boxing series. He makes his return to CageSport MMA fighting April 27.
Montenegro has been training in boxing for eight years and has recently joined the ranks of the popular MMA fighting. Montenegro compiled an amateur boxing record of 20-5 before losing his debut last November. Montenegro also worked his amateur MMA record to 14-4 before turning pro in that sport, winning three titles — two at 145 pounds and another at 155 pounds.
At age 28, the window of opportunity in boxing for Montenegro is already narrowing.
“At age 25, 26, 27, you’re already considered to be declining,” he said. “But in MMA, you’re still in your prime at age 30. There’s been a lot a top MMA fighters that got a late start.”
Montenegro got his own start in the sports rather late due to a troubled start as a youth, with his father in jail and experiencing his own scrapes with the law. To make a clean break from a lifestyle that was leading down the wrong path, Montenegro’s family moved from Maui to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to his dad’s side of the family. Here, he discovered a new outlet to keep him out of trouble — boxing.
“We came up with this as a way to shape up my life,” he said.
It also helped that while growing up he was already used to defending himself from an older brother who liked to pick on him.
While most fighters have a “walking around” weight (the amount they bulk back up to when not training) of about 30-40 pounds above their competitive weight class, Montenegro likes to keep his as close as possible to his 145-pound welterweight class.
Training for two sports takes two types of regimens. Boxing is all about the cardio and hands in preparation for up to 12 three-minute rounds, he said.
“Neighbors see me running 10 miles all the time,” he said.
MMA matches, on the other hand, have longer and fewer rounds — five, five-minute rounds. Plus, Montenegro must master more than just a punch — he also trains in jiu jitsu, judo and muay thai.
Montenegro spreads his training around in area gyms — White Buffalo Warriors, in Kirkland, and Elite Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and strength training, in Redmond.
He receives a lot a support from his immediate family. His girlfriend, Amy Cadwell, also fights.
“She’s my anchor. She keeps me in check,” he said.
He dedicates his matches to his three daughters, and his mother has yet to miss attending a bout.
“She’s there every fight,” he said. “She doesn’t like to see me get hurt, but it’s better in the ring than the alternative where I was headed in Hawaii.”
Montenegro said, as far as he knows, he might be the only pro boxer in the Issaquah area.
“But, I know there are a lot of fight fans here, for sure,” he added.
He invites them all to Tacoma, whether for boxing or MMA, and he promises that once that light is on him, he’s ready to put on an unforgettable show.
If you go
Battle at the Boat 91
- Dex Montenegro vs.Ricardo Moldonado
- March 23
- Emerald Queen Casino,
- 5700 Pacific Highway E, Fife
- Doors open at 6 p.m., bouts begin at 7 p.m.
- Tickets are $24 to $100