Boxers prep for Golden Gloves tourney

John Becker

The United States Olympic Education Center’s (USOEC) boxing team earned one victory and multiple byes in the quarterfinal of the Wisconsin Golden Gloves  tournament last week and will be making two appearances at the semifinals and five guaranteed spots for the regional finals.

NMU freshman Chris Pearson (152 pounds) defeated Ashland boxer Randall Gouge in three rounds on Saturday, April 3 at Memorial Hall in Racine, Wisc., and advanced to the semifinal round, which will be held Saturday, April 10 at the same location.

USOEC head coach Al Mitchell said Pearson won his bout without difficulty and executed well for the win.

“He kept his form, he stayed disciplined and stayed behind the jab; that’s what you want a young athlete to do,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said while Pearson did was victorious, he has some things to work on for his next fight.

“He has to be more aggressive; he’s got to step around and move to the right and left,” Mitchell said.

Senior Ricky Alvarez (132 pounds) has advanced to the semifinal round through a bye and will fight on April 10. Sophomores Rafael Santos (112), Manuel Lopez (141), freshmen Hasim Rahman (201), Darnell Parker (165) and Marquis Moore (152) received byes for the next two rounds and will fight in the final regional round on Saturday, April 17. The byes were granted, Mitchell said, because there weren’t enough competitors to fight the boxers in their respective weight classes.

Lopez said he’s excited to fight in the championship round and will be ready for his competition. Lopez prepares for his fights by shadow boxing, shaking out and getting mentally prepared.

“Once you get into the ring and you start feeling it, your adrenaline’s already pumping, so being in control of your aggression is key,” Lopez said. “The intensity’s already high as it is, so controlling it is a main part to keeping your technique down.

Lopez said he tries to maintain a very high intensity without losing form, because doing so could leave him defenseless.

“You want to stay passive and pick your shots. You can’t go in there going crazy, you’ll end up getting cocked,” Lopez said.

Lopez has been around boxing for many years; when he was younger, his father boxed.

“I was always in the gym with him, and I ended up doing the same thing he was doing, and it happened to grow into me,” he said.

Lopez’s goal is to win all of his fights and gain enough recognition to fight at a higher level of competition. In the long term, he wants to excel at boxing and qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

Mitchell said the team has been working on keeping their weight right and staying in tiptop condition for the upcoming fights.

“We’ve been doing a lot of running at 11:30 at night and at 6 a.m., building their heart rate up,” Mitchell said.

He also said the team has been doing plyometrics: exercises designed to produce quick, powerful movements that will help the athletes move faster and hit harder.

Mitchell said that all of the bouts will build up to the team’s two most important events: the Golden Glove Tournament of Champions, which will be held May 3-8, in Little Rock, Ark., and the USA Boxing National Championships, which will be held July 12-17 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“We know the mistakes that we make in the Golden Gloves, we don’t want to make in the U.S. Nationals,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the team is progressing well, especially with four of the seven team members as freshmen, but he expects a majority of them to qualify for the Tournament of Champions.

“It’s like building a house: you take one block at a time,” Mitchell said. “This is a very young team, and everybody’s been working hard.”