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Finals of the 2013 Boxers for Christ National Tournament

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Sunday, December 21, 2013

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After two days of competition we were down to just 26 boxers in the final 13 matches of the 2013 Boxers for Christ National Championship Tournament at the San Diego Combat Academy in Kearny Mesa, San Diego, CA. For some boxers, like Fabian Zarco of Barrio Station and Ray Diaz of Steele Boxing, they were about to compete for the third straight day.

Here are our results from Day 3, the final day:

In Bout #1, in the 11 to 12 year-old, 70 pound weight class, Off-tourney group) it was Adrian Estrada (66.2 lbs.) an orthodox boxer from the Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista, CA going up against southpaw Fernando Diaz (70.6 lbs.) of Steele Boxing, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Diaz, who added sound effects while delivering his punches, dominated Estrada from the opening bell, “Bop! Bop! Bop, bop, bop! Bop, bop! It was a rare instance when the overmatched Estrada got off a punch.

Bout #2, in the 13 to 14 year-old, 106 pound weight class, featured two very serious, what you might call pokerfaced competitors, Anthony Reyes of Coachella and Ray Diaz of Steele Boxing.

As mentioned above, this was Diaz’s third bout in the tournament. Plus, the two competitors had some past history and in that previous match, Reyes defeated Diaz by the slimmest of margins. At their morning weigh-ins, the boxers weighed in at the same, exact weight - 103.6 pounds.

The three rounds played out like a chess match. After one boxer delivered a punch, the other made certain to match his efforts. The imbalance came about when Reyes used this tactic of hitting, then holding. After a while, the difference in punches delivered started to mount in his favor.

Bout #3, in the 123 pound, 17+ Novice division, featured Carlon Johnson of the UFC Gym (119.2 lbs.) going up against Hai Tran of the Undisputed Gym (121.5 lbs.).

This is the one result that your loyal boxing pundit disagrees with. It seemed clear to me that Johnson held the edge in both rounds one and two. He held his ground while delivering the cleaner and certainly more accurate punches. In the final round, Tran pulled out all the stops and went with the bullying tactics that impressed the judges enough to earn him the questionable win.

For Bout #4, we were back to the ladies, featuring Jessica Corral (129.4 lbs.) of the National City CYAC going up against Renata Ramirez (129.6 lbs.) of the Duarte Youth Boxing Club in the 17 and up, 132 pound Novice division.

The strategies in this one were clear, especially since both demonstrated they had above average footwork. Ramirez, with her reach advantage, needed sufficient space to box. Her opponent, Corral, needed to get in close to land the shorter straight rights, left hooks and work over Ramirez’s midsection.

In summation, while Corral took round two, it was clear Ramirez did the better job in Rounds one and three, especially when landing her fully extended power punches.

Since Raul Meza’s opponent in Bout #5 for the 17+, 132 pound Novice division was unable to compete, he became this year’s champion.

Bout #6, in the 132 pound, 17 and up, Novice category they had Fabian Zarco (131.8 lbs.) of Barrio Station in his third straight bout going up against Rene Flores (132 lbs.) a really tough hombre from the Coachella Boxing Club.

With Flores, seemingly bigger and stronger, you had to figure Zarco had finally met his match. The bout started out like an Ali/Frazier match-up, with Flores on the perimeter circling to his right while using the jab and occasionally stopping to deliver a combination while Zarco, in Frazier-like form, kept on coming.

Halfway through the second round, Flores’ perpetual motion slowed and that’s when Zarco began to land the straight one, two, left and right cross combinations. Amazingly, Flores kept his composure and on occasion returned fire even while back peddling. By the final round, Zarco’s unwavering advances had taken their toll on Flores who had been worn down by attrition.

Bout #7 featured Jose Ponce (151.6 lbs.) of the United Boxing & Fitness Gym in Chula Vista, CA going up against Jeremy Nichols (150.2 lbs.) of the legendary Johnny Tocco's Boxing Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In Round #1, the feeling out round, the heavy hitters, kept measuring each other in preparation for what many expected to be a war. Then, before the close of the round, Nichols began to switch (effortlessly) from righty to lefty to score points and thereby take round one.

In Round #2, after feeling Nichols’ power, Ponce became more tentative, failed to use his jab and waited to counter off any Nichols’ miscue. By the third round, an overconfident Nichols started to drop his hands and again switch back and forth from righty to lefty.

Interviewed later, Nichols and his trainer told us he’s 23 years of age, has only been training (seriously) for a year, and his ability to switch back and forth from righty to lefty is owing to the fact he’s always been ambidextrous.

You never know. Mr. Nichols might be one of those diamonds in the rough and we’ll soon be seeing him on TV.

Bout #8, in the 165 pound, 17 and up Novice category, became a walkover victory for Christian Olivas of the Intensity MMA Gym in South San Diego after his opponent failed to make weight.

Bout #9 featured two more big bruisers battling it out in the 17 and up, 201 pound Novice division, Ben Rivera (190.4 lbs.) of Old School Boxing in the College Area of San Diego going up against Jesse Okeke (199 lbs.) of the Gladiator School of Boxing in Spring Valley, CA. These are two gents who belong on the front cover of Muscle & Fitness Magazine.

In Round #1, it appeared Okeke had the upper hand since he was the one who was throwing the big bombs, punches that would collapse a building. Rivera seemed just as happy to work his combinations and measure distance.

Then came round two, when Mr. Okeke, the brawler, found himself in a close-in scuffle featuring sneaky uppercuts and short right and left crosses. At that point, all the muscle in the world couldn’t help him as Rivera’s superior hand speed took over to win him the match.

In Bout #10, the boxer scheduled to face Chuck Landy, Saturday’s winner in the 201 pound plus, heavyweight division, ended up being a no show which made Landy's final match a walkover.

Bout #11, another of the highly anticipated match-ups, featured Tyler Herberger (121.2 Lbs) of Old School Boxing, San Diego, CA facing Jose Jurado (121.6 Lbs) from the House of Boxing, Paradise Hills, S. D., CA in the Elite 123 pound division.

These are two of the best Super Bantamweights from the San Diego area and they put on an amazing performance. Even though the bout, round by round, featured continual momentum swings, you always saw Herberger just a notch better, a notch sharper with his combinations.

Then, late in Round #3, it appeared Herberger was tiring and Jurado would finish stronger. That’s when Herberger dug deep and back he came to wow his supporters. I’m certain they would back me up on this claim, “Saturday’s performance was his best ever.”

In Bout #12, it was Joseph “Big Dog” Martinez (202 lbs.) of the Duarte Youth Boxing Club going up against Mario Jaquez (229 lbs.) of the World Gym, Ocean Beach, S. D., CA in a 201 pound plus, Off tourney match.

The nickname of “Big Dog” was given to Martinez just after the match by his whimsical opponent who showed tremendous courage by finishing a bout in which he faced a much superior opponent who has obviously been training a lot longer.

Jaquez’s strategy of getting in close and tying Martinez up worked for a time, but it never completely stopped the onslaught of heavy leather.

In Bout #13, it was Armando Tovar (140 lbs.) from the House of Boxing going up against Torryan Benjamin (138.8 lbs.) from the Alliance Training Center in a 141 pound, Novice Off tourney match.
Though it hasn’t been confirmed, I believe Benjamin’s speed and unique style may have confounded Tovar. It’s unlikely he’s ever faced anyone quite like Benjamin. First of all, it’s his unusual stance. When facing opponents he’s always standing sideways which doesn’t give you much of a target to throw at. Secondly, Tovar got caught twice by Benjamin’s big overhand right that came at him like a towering wave.

LBC 44 Team records (San Diego County) 29-29
Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista 6-4
Barrio Station, San Diego Downtown 4-1
Black Tiger Gym, Miramar, S. D. 0-1
Bound Boxing, Chula Vista 1-2
Chula Vista Boxing, Chula Vista 0-1
Gladiators School of Boxing, Spring Valley 0-1
House of Boxing, Paradise Hills 1-4
Intensity MMA, South San Diego 1-0
Legacy Training Center, Vista 0-1
National City Community Youth Athletic Center 2-2
Old School Boxing, San Diego 3-2
San Diego Combat Academy, S. D. 0-1
Temecula Boxing, Temecula 1-0
UFC Gym, San Marcos 1-1
Undisputed North Park/Downtown/El Cajon 3-2
United Boxing & Training Center, Chula Vista 3-5
USIAA (United States Institute of Amateur Athletics) 1-0
World Boxing Gym, Ocean Beach, S.D. 2-1

Visiting teams went 26-14*walk overs included
Aztec Pride, Bell, CA 3-1
Capital Punishment Boxing Club, Riverside, CA 1-0
Casillas Boxing Club, South Gate, CA 0-1
Coachella Boxing Club, Coachella, CA 6-1
Duarte Youth Boxing Club, Duarte, CA 9-2
Eddie Heredia Boxing Club, East Los Angeles 0-2
ICIW (I Can, I Will) 0-1
Johnny Tocco’s Boxing Gym, Las Vegas, NV 1-1
MTC (More Than Conquerors Boxing Club) San Bernardino, CA 2-4
Steele Boxing, Las Vegas, NV 4-1

And so ends another Boxers for Christ National Championship Tournament with special honors going to the team from Duarte, CA who finished with a dandy record of 9 wins and just 2 losses to win the Overall Team Championship as well as Team Conduct award.

The Boxers for Christ Outstanding Boxer of the tournament went to Fabian Zarco of Barrio Station who had to win three straight bouts to win the 17 and up, 132 pound, Novice Division.

The Boxers for Christ Outstanding Female Boxer trophy went to Renata Ramirez of the Duarte Youth Boxing Club.

The Boxers for Christ Outstanding Official Award was presented to Melanie Ley.

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