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Dylan Carlson

Dylan “The Villain” Carlson fought Evan Holyfield back in March. Carlson returns to the ring Saturday in Florida.

The Villain is back.

Local boxer and recent Klamath Falls city council candidate Dylan “The Villain” Carlson will participate in his fourth professional fight Saturday when he faces Ermal Hadribeaj in Bonita Springs, Florida.

Carlson enters the fight with a 1-1-1 record, following a defeat in his most recent fight against Evan Holyfield in March.

Carlson’s opponent in his next match is a former mixed martial arts fighter with a 4-0-1 record, including one knockout.

With COVID-19 causing disruption to the professional sporting world, this will be Carlson’s first opportunity to fight professionally in eight months.

“Due to the whole pandemic, everything’s been shut down since March,” Carlson said. “I’m just blessed that a promoter asked me to come and fight on his show. I’m just glad I’ve got a shot to show off my skills.”

Carlson holds the size advantage over Hadribeaj, standing at 5’11’’ compared to Hadribeaj’s 5’8’’.

“I’m bigger than him, and I think I’m just a better athlete than he is,” Carlson said. “He’s an MMA fighter. [He] doesn’t like to get pressured a lot. He doesn’t really do anything special [from] what I’ve seen from him, but he’s obviously trained for this and probably gotten better. So you just have to take it one step at a time and see what he’s going to throw at me.”

Carlson’s preparation has emphasized cardio to ensure he is at a good weight and has enough stamina for the fight. His trainer, Juan Ulloa, has also focused on Carlson’s diet.

“I’ve changed up my dieting,” Carlson said. “Running, doing different plyometrics, other stretches.”

“He runs in the morning like six miles, five to six days a week,” Ulloa said. “He works out in the afternoon from 6:30 to 8:15, and then his diet is a pretty big one, too. He’s a pretty big guy, he’s got a big frame, so you’ve got to get him to eat right to cut the extra weight.”

Ulloa believes lingering habits from Hadribeaj’s MMA days may provide Carlson an edge in the boxing ring.

“He’s a guy who’s transitioning from MMA to boxing. He’s been boxing for a few years now, but his angles, his movement, it’s a little off, the way he moves,” said Ulloa. “He expends a lot of energy when he moves. I think if we can just cut him off and set him up — like I said, catch him — it’ll be easy.”

If Carlson and his team are able to put that plan into practice, the Nov. 7 fight could earn him bigger opportunities in the future.

“If I could ever get to a title fight that would probably be the top end of the game, just getting a shot at the champ,” Carlson said.

In order for a title fight to become a reality, Carlson needs to win the bouts put in front of him.

“I think if he listens, follows the game plan, it’s gonna be pretty easy,” Ulloa said. “If we don’t listen, we’re in their backyard you know, the outcome could be different. It could be a much harder fight for him. I think if he listens, I’m predicting a stoppage.”

Carlson’s mental approach to this fight may be just as important as his physical preparation.

“It’s a thinking man’s game,” Carlson said. “Because nobody wants to get punched.”

“You can’t play boxing,” Ulloa said. “If you play, you’re going to get hurt.”

Regardless of the outcome, the fight could be a stepping stone for Carlson on his path to bigger and better things — both within the ring and politically. His first race for city council was unsuccessful, but he said he may run for political office again in the future.

“It’s just moving up the ladder man,” Carlson said. “You’ve just got to keep winning and keep grinding and eventually you’ll get your shot. You’ve just got to keep at it. Winning is the only thing.”

Carlson has received help from sponsors Nibbley’s BoxDrop and Weapons Grade MMA.