NEW YORK — On October 30, 2021, 27-year-old Buckhannon native and professional boxer, Dakota “Lone Wolf” Linger, found himself fighting under the bright New York City lights in the world’s most famous arena on the Jose Zepeda vs. Josue Vargas undercard. Countless eyes were fixed on the Buckhannon-Upshur High School graduate to see if he could pull an upset.
Linger, a slender, but strong 5’7” 140-pound boxer with a 70.5” reach fights professionally in the super lightweight classification. He entered the biggest fight of his career up to this point with a professional record of 12 wins (8 by KO), 5 losses, and 2 draws. Linger found himself matched up against a heavily favored opponent, Matthew Gonzalez (12-0-1, 8 KOs) for his 20th professional bout.
Despite being a heavy betting favorite, Gonzalez quickly found that Linger was a skilled boxer and worthy opponent. It was an all-out war from the opening bell, as the two fighters traded blows in the center of the ring at Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden. Linger started off the bout with an offensive barrage in the early rounds. As the fight wore on, Gonzalez couldn’t seem to shake Linger’s confidence or break his resolve, frustrating him and his corner. The crowd at Madison Square Garden was electric all night, glued to the action ringside, as neither man ceded an inch to the other. On the night, flurries of punches were exchanged in volleys for a full 12 rounds.
In the end, the fight went the distance and was decided by the judges’ scorecards. While it appeared that Linger had done enough to score a narrow, well-earned victory over the undefeated Gonzalez, the judges’ decided to call the fight a majority decision draw, declaring no clear-cut winner in the fight.
Despite being forced to settle for a draw instead of the victory that he seemed to earn, Linger proved himself and earned respect on one of boxing’s biggest stages. Judging by the way he looked in this last fight against a very talented opponent, more big opportunities will be in store for this Buckhannon native.