USOEC boxing down, not out

Brice Burge

The USOEC boxing team competed at the Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions, May 3-8 in Little Rock, Ark. Three of the four boxers were victorious in the first round, but the remaining three were all eliminated in the second round by split decisions.

“It was a tough tourney,” said USOEC Boxing Head Coach Al Mitchell. “We faced a lot of number one and number two guys right away, and it was a challenge.”

All competing members lost in the second round of the knockout tournament in their weight classes, but each bout had many different story lines.

In one of the closest bouts of the night, freshman Manuel Lopez took on Mohamed Adam of Detroit.

After exchanging blows for two rounds, a punch by Adam knocked Lopez to the mat. After finishing the round, Adam won on decision.

“I bounced right back up, but it kind of left an impression on the judges,” Lopez said. “I hurt him a couple times and there were times where he was holding me and running away from me. Hopefully I get a chance to fight him again and prove to everyone that I can beat him.”

Freshman Chris Pearson also had a strong bout against No. 1 nationally ranked boxer Errol Spence of Texas in the 152 lb division. However, lack of higher level competition has hurt him according to the coach.

“Chris is better than he thinks he is,” Mitchell said. “He hasn’t been at this level from day to day and where he comes from he can box the way he wants to and win. After this he realized that with a little more discipline and work, he can get it.”

In the 114 lb division, sophomore Rafael Carlo Santos had a close bout but lost after opponent Hector Colon scored more punches.

According to Mitchell, Santos waited too long on his attacks and had a chance to win it.

“It was close but a good bout,” Mitchell said. “(I) saw some mistakes and he saw them too on tape and we will work on them in practice.”

In arguably the most controversial decision of the tournament, Izaak Cardona of Colorado-New Mexico defeated freshman Darnell Parker.

After the announcement of the decision, the crowd booed after Cardona had no answer for the quick repeating jabs of Parker.

“I did everything to win that match short of knocking him out,” Parker said. “He didn’t have the skills to keep me away from him, I hurt him with a body shot in the second round, I felt that I did enough to win the contest hands down.”

A problem across the board for the team was the lack of competitions.

It had been over eight months since the last boxing competition in San Antonio, Texas, and Mitchell said it showed.

“In boxing, you need actual competition. We went up against the top guys in the country and we needed that.”

To help take away the rust, the team will compete in the Meijer State Games of Michigan in Grand Rapids June 25-27.

The next major competition for the boxers will be the US Nationals in Colorado July 11-18.