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South Sound boxers shine at 68th Tacoma Golden Gloves

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Boxing should be held in a fieldhouse. Boxers should have nicknames like “Iron Mike,” “Raging Bull” or “Hitman.” Many sports embrace technology and use it to supposedly improve the product we see on the field or the court or the pitch, but boxing is old school. Two fighters enter the ring and test their strength, skill and willpower, and one leaves victorious. It was very fitting that the 68th Annual Golden Gloves finals were held last Saturday at the University of Puget Sound’s Memorial Fieldhouse. Although these were amateur fighters, mostly teenagers and not at the point of their careers where a nickname might be appropriate, they lived up to the timeless nature of the sport.

Leading off the evening was a 112-pound bout between two female fighters, Jocelyn Robles and Savannah Riggles. Robles controlled the action from the start and was pretty dominant through the first two rounds. Riggles seemed to find her rhythm over the last two rounds, but ultimately not enough to pull out a victory, as Robles got the unanimous decision.

Up next was a 114-pound match up between Jeremy Morales and Salvador Jimenez. Morales completely outclassed his opponent, landing at ease and causing a standing eight count for Jimenez about halfway through the first round. It is rare in amateur fights that you see an actual knockdown but Morales accomplished that, sending Jimenez to the floor and leading the referee to stop that fight at 2:51 of the second round. Morales gained a TKO victory.

The third fight of the evening saw Jose Valenzuela take on Devin Bell. As in the two previous fights, there was a definite aggressor and his name was Valenzuela. He landed more punches, he landed the harder punches and they took a toll on Bell. Bell was given a standing eight count in each round, and he did not make it out of the third round, as the referee stopped the fight, again at the 2:51 mark of the round, making Valenzuela the winner by TKO.

Kenny Guzman and Luis Alvarado were up next at 132 pounds and put on a more competitive fight. Both fighters got their shots in during the first round, Alvarado landing a bit more consistently. That theme was to continue through all three rounds and the final result was a win by unanimous decision for Alvarado.

The fifth fight featured Niko McFarland and Nino Delgado, who came from Alaska to be a part of the tournament. The first round was very close and the fighters were well matched. Delgado came out for the second round and seemingly found another gear, as he began landing punches as he wanted and controlled the round. The fighters engaged in a nice flurry of activity at the start of the third, and Delgado kept at it a little more consistently. He was rewarded with a split decision win.

What turned out to be the best fight of the evening was up next, as Kevin Torres and James Porter squared off at 152 pounds. It was a high action fight from the start with the fighters trading punches. They both seemed to understand that sometimes you have to take some damage in order to give some damage. Torres was always just a bit ahead of the action and did all the little things right, which is why he was rewarded with the victory by unanimous decision at the end of three rounds.

After a brief intermission we were right back at it, with Nick Vasquez taking on Steven Villalobos. The fight started with Villalobos throwing wicked punches with bad intentions. He was certainly out to prove that he was a hard puncher. At one point he hit Vasquez so hard that he knocked out a contact lens. Vasquez got busy in the second round and evened up the fight, but Villalobos was simply too much as the fight went on and took the split decision. This was a semi-final bout with Villalobos moving on to fight in the final, which took place on Sunday.

Bout number eight featured more female fighters, with Kelsie Pence facing Lindsey Hanson. This was a case of one fighter simply taking control of the fight and having things her way, and Hanson was that fighter. She dominated the fight, which provided a little comic relief when the ring announcer managed to read the scores backward and announced that Pence was the winner. Many at ringside shouted out that we had a new Steve Harvey in the house. Order was restored quickly and Hanson was rightly awarded the win by unanimous decision.

The next fight was also a bit of a mismatch. Jesus Acosta took on Richard Vansiclen and it was all Vansiclen. Around the halfway point of the first round, he took over the fight and kept it firmly in his grasp. Acosta was given two standing eight counts in the second round and the fight was stopped at 2:06 of the round, with Vansiclen your winner by TKO.

The most contentious fight of the night was the next one between Matthew Mollet and Aaron Rocha-Urrea. Either there was bad blood between these two prior to the fight or they simply took an intense dislike for each other very quickly. Mollet wanted to box and Rocha-Urrea wanted to brawl. Mollet showed off his skills, causing a standing eight count for Rocha-Urrea in the second and leading the doctor to stop the fight at 1:21 of the third with yet another TKO, and a win for Mollet.

The 201-pound heavyweights closed the show. Thomas Turner and Matthew Leonetti met in a very even, close fight and at times it was hard to tell who held the advantage. Each man took turns controlling the action and there were several serious punches landed by both fighters. In the end, Turner did more and was more accurate, and he walked away with a unanimous decision.

After the fights the awards were handed out. The Tacoma Boxing Club won the team award, James Porter was tabbed as the most inspirational fighter, and the Golden Boy winner was Kevin Torres. If you have an opportunity to take in next year’s Tacoma Golden Gloves don’t hesitate for a moment. You won’t regret it.

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