Sunday, December 16, 2012
On Sunday, the finalist in the 2012 Boxers for Christ National Tournament met up at the San Diego Combat Academy on Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa to decipher whom would be the new National Champions at each weight and experience level. The results from those final bouts are written here:
Bout #1 finalists in the 152 pound Elite grouping had Antonio Garcia of the Punch Out Gym, Anaheim, CA facing Brandon Ariza of the Victory Boxing Gym of Omaha, Nebraska.
As in many championships, things can get pretty feisty in the finals. The shorter Ariza, a lefty, brawler type had to contend with the taller Garcia circling about and landing these quick, whip like shots to his head.
After only a short time, there were several clashes of heads and also some grabbling being done. In one of the clashes, Ariza’s arm was injured. It was later discovered that he had hyper-extended his left elbow. To survive the bout, he began to hold at every opportunity. Before long he was penalized for this tactic. Not one to quit, Ariza hung in there until the bitter end.
Bout #2 featured Edwin Lozano of United Boxing & Fitness in Chula Vista, CA going up against La Quan Costales of the Vaya Con Dios Gym of Tulare, CA in an Off Tourney match in the 80 pound category.
From the outset, Lozano chased after Costales and when he caught up with him, he went nonstop. After an 8-count was issued, Costales tried his best to end his back-peddling but Lozano was just too quick, too in-your-face.
Bout #3 featured Alex Celaya of USIAA going up against Erick Hernandez of United Boxing in another Off Tourney 95 pound match. In this tight match-up, Celaya landed the punches in close while Hernandez used his superior leverage to land the harder punches from the outside. Round #3 decided the match and that round was Celaya’s best.
Bout #4 had Miguel Sanchez of United Boxing & Fitness, Chula Vista, back to face Dextor Escobar of Temecula Boxing in the consolation match of the 132 pound novice category. Since Sanchez and Escobar are slick boxers, the crowd was soon captivated by their back and forth exchanges involving the slipping of punches, working the angles and using the flashy uppercuts. In this closest of matches, Sanchez was awarded the victory.
Bout #5 was a Finals matchup in the 132 pound Novice Group between Wilson Guzman of Grace Boxing in Palmdale, CA and Mulapi Estani of the Tiger Smalls Boxing Team, San Diego.
If you ever want to get technical and look at a bout through a coach’s eyes, close your eyes and listen to the calm narration offered by Tiger Smalls, Estani’s coach. At the break and during each round, he paints a picture for his boxer, a clear, colorful account. Try it.
“Mulapi, it’s a dog fight! You got to get in there and work! Tie him up! That’s it! You’re going to win by wearing this cat down. There you go! There you go, baby! Don’t let him breathe! Jab, jab, two, three. It’s music to my ears.”
If you were to take Smalls away from Mulapi, he’d likely go on a losing streak. It would be like an orchestra without its conductor. On Sunday, Smalls had Mulapi in his groove and regardless of what Guzman tried, Mulapi had an answer, an answer that came from Smalls.
Bout #6 was the finals of the 152 pound Novice category featuring a matchup between Andrew Sanchez of Duarte Boxing, Duarte, CA and Nicholas Carrico of Old School Boxing, San Diego.
Once again, you had the well-school boxer going through his paces. In the opening round, there was no panic as Carrico took his time to measure his opponent. Then in Rounds two and three, it was time to go to work, time to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses.
Bout #7 had Berlin Kerney IV of the El Cajon Undisputed Fitness Center, back for the finals of the Novice 165 pound category facing Christian Olivas of Ocean’s Boxing, Chula Vista. Unlike Kerney, a well-schooled KO artist and now head boxing coach for three plus years, Olivas had only two bouts and for this reason his coach feels he might just be a special talent. He did stand firm and took a lot of heavy blows from Kerney. In the end, one judge had Olivas winning. Another had Kerney winning. The third saw it as a draw. Any time this happens, the judges have to decide based on ring generalship and the three felt Olivas was the choice. Even though I’m often distracted during a bout, I certainly have my doubts about this outcome.
Bout #8 had Adrian Hernandez of UnitedBoxing & Fitness going up against Esteven Ramirez of the Vaya Con Dios Gym, Tulare,in the 8/9 year-old, 60 pound, Off Tourney grouping.
In Round #1, Hernandez tried to pour it on and before Ramirez knew it, he was being issued an 8-count. Ramirez settled in and worked his way back into contention. Once again, this pundit was on the wrong side and scored the bout a draw, too close to call.
Bout #9 had Genaro Gamez of United Boxing & Fitness, Chula Vista, returning to face Israel Mercado ofUltimate Warrior, Ontario, in the finals of the 132 pound Elite Grouping.
With my track record on the day, I thought it might be advisable to get boxer Rey Gamez, Genaro’s younger brother, to assist me in the coverage of this match and perhaps he could give us an insider’s point of view. He agreed.
Gamez: “All I can say about this match is, without a doubt it was the most enthusiastic, most emotional bout of the tournament. From Round one on, neither fighter let up. They were extremely aggressive and threw punch after punch until the bell sounded. After the many even exchanges, my brother always seemed to punctuate the end of the round by landing the cleaner, more powerful shots to the head, the ones that snap an opponent’s head back.
“Even though Mercado never gave up and had this furious speed when throwing the combinations, it all came down to the judges figuring my brother had the majority of the more solid, cleaner blows. As an impartial judge, I too would have to give the decision to Genaro “El Conde” Gamez.”
There you have it and to think every comment came from an impartial observer. This pundit scored the bout, Round #1 even 4-4, Round #2 Gamez 15-6 over Mercado and Round #3 Gamez 9-6 over Mercado.
Bout #10 had Elias Diaz of Bad Boxing, Chula Vista facing Alfonso Ponce of the Punch Out Gym, Anaheim in the Finals of the 141 pound Elite grouping. Diaz, who had beaten the tough Brian Salomon on Saturday was back to face the fresher Ponce who had gone untested.
In the feeling out round, Ponce slipped while backing up and Diaz made him pay with three rapid fire punches to secure the Round. In Round #2, Diaz’s left hand was the weapon of choice. Everything happened so fast in Round #3 that you’d have to be played it back in slow motion to be certain. Overall, Diaz was by far the sharper of the two pugilists.
Bout #11 had Mike Saracino of the Tiger Smalls Boxing Team, San Diego facing the always tough Jonathan Esquivel of the Punch Out Gym, Anaheim, Calif. in the Finals of the 165 pound Elite category.
In this one, the southpaw, Esquivel, simply outworked and outscored the fit, orthodox puncher, Saracino. The only chance Saracino had was when he pinned Esquivel against the ropes, but Esquivel proved far too elusive to allow such a slip up.
Bout #12 had Keoki Anaya of World Crown Sports, Oxnard back to face Reece Bennett of the Jessie Reid Boxing in the Finals of the 178 pound Elite Category.
Bennett, who has had 70+ bouts, should be in the pro-ranks. At this stage, no one can handle his power and least of all Anaya who is basically a beginner in comparison. After getting slugged just once in the midsection, Anaya was through and dropped to his knees for the KO.
Bout #13 featured two more quick of hand boxers, Roberto Ocampo of the ABC Mongoose Gym, San Diego, a recent semifinalist in the Silver Gloves competition in Los Angeles, and Mario Mendoza of Boxing for Christ, Hemet in a 132 pound Off Tourney match.
Instead of describing this match, Boxing for Christ has provided a video of this Sunday, December 16, 2012 showdown won by the busier and more accurate Mendoza.
In the Masters, 178 pound category, Jeff Railey of the Gladiator Gym, Spring Valley ended up with a walkover in Bout #14.
And in the final match of the Tournament, Bout #15, Darius Winfrey of Boxing for Christ took on Juan Saldivar of the Punch Out Gym in Anaheim, CA in the 10/11 year-old 70 pounds Off Tourney category.
With Saldivar having more time in the gym, this was a learning experience for the young Mr. Winfrey who must have thought he was fighting an octopus the way the punches were coming from every direction.
Last year’s tournament took place at the Escondido Sports and Fitness Center in Escondido and 34 gyms were represented. This year’s show had 40 teams represented. The yearly show is sanctioned by USA Boxing and ran by the good people of the United States Institute of Amateur Athletics. It’s open to boxers of all ages, all weight divisions, males and females, Pee Wees, Junior Olympians, Elite and the Masters.
After each athlete received a Bible, a Trophy, and a Boxers for Christ T-shirt, Coach Robert Coons presented additional trophies to: Victory Boxing of Omaha for their outstanding efforts in the Open Division and LA Sands for the Novice Team Championship. The Outstanding Boxer trophy for the Junior Olympics went to Julius Ballo, the trophy for the 17 year old and above Novice/Open categories went to Genaro Gamez and Leslie Barreras of Cital Boxing & Nutrition received the trophy for being the top female. For the second straight year, Hondo Fontan received a plaque for outstanding official. As head coach of the Vaya Con Dios Boxing Club, Hector Alatorre, was presented a trophy to honor his team for exemplifying the very best in team sportsmanship.