Three local gunslingers back in action: Johnson, McKinney & Van Soest

Top of the fight poster shows the headliners for this mega fight in Las Vegas, UFC fighter Conor McGregor (l) versus the former undefeated welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (r). (photo below) The promoter added photos of both Dashon Johnson (l) and Ishe Smith (r) clubbing former opponents.

What can you say about the 29-year-old, 5’9” Dashon Johnson (Boxing 22-21-3, 7 KOs, MMA 9-2, 5 KOs) from Escondido, other than it’s like this local phenom is following a movie script, a bigger-than-life, ready for the silver screen storyline, that will have viewers on the edge of their seats. Johnson recently wrote: “God is so good to me! Contract on the way! Today, we received news we got another big fight, another memorable bout. They got me signed to fight Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith in a 10 round middleweight boxing bout on the undercard of that much ballyhooed Sean McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. mega fight of August 22, 2017, in Las Vegas.”

Johnson, who has defeated such luminaries as: Elias Espadas (15-3, 10 KOs), Ricardo Pinell (14-3-1, 8 KOs), Mike Gravonski (23-2-1, 14 KOs) and Craig McEwan (23-4-2, 12 KOs), has lost to top contenders like Jesse Hart (22-0, 18 KOs), Aaron Corley (15-1-1, 7 KOs) and J’Leon Love (23-1, 1).

To beat Smith, a close friend of Floyd Mayweather Jr., on his home turf, seems downright impossible. Smith, trained by Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, is 4-2 in his last six bouts. He suffered the two decision losses to top boxers Vanes Martiosyan and Erislandy Lara.

“If I were to win, the win would completely change my life,” said Johnson. “Completely! I’m now in the biggest fight of my life and I couldn’t be in a more perfect position to shock the world!!!!” And then to grab a quote from a former pre-fight interview: “We are not here to take part, we are here to take over!”

Next, we have 36-year-old heavyweight Matt McKinney (5-2-2, 2 KOs) from Tijuana by way of Oceanside, Calif. back in action on Saturday, September 16 taking on 29-year-old Joey Cusumano (11-1, 9 KOs) from Danville, Virginia. Their match at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, Rhode Island is set to be televised. In his corner, McKinney has former NABF, USBA, WBO NABO Welterweight Champ Danny Perez and the majority of their time is spent training at the Art of Eight Training & Fitness Center in Kearny Mesa, San Diego, Calif. McKinney, 4-0-1 over his last five bouts, has just two losses. A stoppage loss to 6’4” Keishaun Hill (5-0-0, 5 KOs) from The Arena in Point Loma and a decision loss to the 6’6” behemoth Adam Stewart (4-0-1, 2 KOs) from Huntington Beach, Calif.

(top photo) Heavyweight boxer Matt McKinney with his well-respected trainer, ex-super welterweight Champ Danny “Dynamite” Perez. (middle) The McKinney boys, young Alex (l) and his father Matt (r): “You mess with one, you mess with both.” (bottom) Is a photo taken after a recent workout at the Encinitas Boxing & Fitness gym. Among the recognizable gentlemen, second from the left, is the twice World Heavyweight Champ Chris Byrd, WBO Champ from April 1 to October 14, 2000, plus IBF Champion from Dec. 14, 2002 to April 22, 2006.

Attempting to intimidate your opponent prior to fight night – two can play the same game. Joey Cusumano (l) wears a Superman T-shirt while his son resorts to putting up his dukes in a threatening manner.

For sure, Joey Cusamano (wearing the green T-shirt above, blue cap below) went to more than a few gyms in search of the best available sparring.

Saving the best for last – Tiffany Van Soest – World Kickboxing Champion

In the upcoming Glory 44 Kickboxing show, Mixed Martial Artist/kickboxer Tiffany Van Soest (r) is one of the featured fighters of their August 25th show.

Only recently, Tiffany Van Soest, the Glory Kickboxing World Champion returned to her roots, San Diego, to train full time with her longtime coach Kru Alex Palma and lend a hand teaching his students at Blue Ocean Muaythai. 

(top, right) World Champion Kickboxer/Mixed Martial Artist Tiffany Van Soest poses for a photo with her long time coach Kru Alex Palma.

If there’s one thing that’s not in short supply, it’s photos of this beauty.

At this stage in her development, Tiffany Van Soest makes everything look so easy. But she’ll be the first to admit, it took years of hard work to hone her craft.

Almost too numerous to mention: the list of Tiffany Van Soest’s accomplishments:


United States Karate Organization

USKA California Championship

USKA United States Championship

USKA World Championship


International Amateur Muay Thai Federation Champ

IAMTF Women’s United States Featherweight Champion

Lion Fight

Lion Fight Women’s Featherweight (-56.7 kg/125 lb) Champion

Muay Thai Authority

2012 North American Breakthrough Fighter of the Year

2013 North American Female Fighter of the Year

United States Muay Thai Association

USMTA Women’s Amateur California Featherweight Championship

World Boxing Council Muay Thai

WBC Muay Thai Women’s International Super Bantamweight (-55.338 kg/122 lb) Championship

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