National College Boxing Champions Crowned at Foxwoods
By Alex Pierpaoli
Last night the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Mashantucket, CT, was the site of the National Collegiate Boxing Association Championships. Teams from across the country, both military academies as well as private universities, competed in twelve weight classes in order to determine the best in each division. The bouts were all 3 two-minute round contests in which combatants wore headgear and the amateur rules of punch-counting by five ringside judges applied; fights were scored according to punches landed, sheer quantity, rather than in professional prize-fighting where damage done is valued more highly.
So many of the 65 total bouts, over the course of the three day tourney, were exciting, competitive contests featuring fist-flying action and young, hungry fighters with courageous hearts and exceptional reflexes. Despite its differences with the professional version of the sport, the tourney was chock full of what fans love about boxing, the action, and was very light on what plagues the sport, controversy. Unlike in the London Olympics this past summer where ESPN’s Teddy Atlas spent most of that tournament railing against bad decisions, both real and imagined, there were only a handful of fights that ended in a way that this observer might hope to dispute. And the major difference was that unlike what happens every weekend in the pro-ranks, the decisions one could argue with in this tourney were indisputably close, heated contests that could go either way and in a subjective sport some variance of opinion is to be expected.
At the end of the evening it was the US Military Academy at West Point’s team that dominated, claiming 6 ofthe 12 division titles up for grabs. The remaining 6 champions hailed from two private universities that won a title each, at 132lbs and 185lbs, and the US Air Force Academy and the US Coast Guard Academy, who each saw two team members win.
BillyCBoxing.com was there covering the action live via Twitter with round-by-round coverage. Here is a recap based on our Twitter feed but cleaned up and made more reader-friendly for those less familiar with the social media platform.
First up, in Bout 1, 112 pounders Andrew Pineda of the USAF Academy vs. Vikromjit Parmar of Penn State University. It’s a mostly tentative first, but Penn State's boxer scored with a flurry by round's end. Parmar is the taller fighter and he's keeping Pineda outside where he can be hit and has to lurch in to land his own shots; Pineda succeeds a bit in the second. The smaller Pineda got closer in the 3rd and really let his hands fly, likely he evened things up but Parmar is probably still ahead. Good action from these little boxers. The USAF gutted it out! That effort in the 3rd was enough to swing things in his favor and Andrew Pineda becomes 2013 NCBA Champion at 112lbs.
Bout 2, 119lbs, Ceon Harris of the US Military Academy at West Point vs. Dave Martinez of Penn State. Harris is the guy to watch, he’s got a very polished, pro-style. That first was a consummate "feeling-out" round between these two finalists. Not a lot to speak of but each guy got a look at the other's style.
"Two & roll, Ceon!" one of his supporter's shouts from the back of the room and that's what Harris did effectively in the 2nd, left jab-overhand right and roll out to the side. Martinez fought a better 3rd round but he was clearly a bit befuddled with Harris' speedy boxing and the PSU boxer switched back and forth from orthodox to southpaw. Despite the final round surge, West Point's Ceon Harris wins and becomes the 2013 NCBA Champion at 119lbs.
Bout 3, 125lbs, Jeramias Ortiz of West Point versus Roy Taylor of the USAF Academy.
Busy round one from both men but it looked as though Ortiz connected a little more often. Not as much caution from these two as was seen in the last fight. The USAF fighter lands with several straight shots; Ortiz pressing with really great body work. Both guys are really throwing and the crowd is really into this one. Lots of contact here in round two! There were lots of landed blows and the judges had some very busy thumbs clicking their counters for each man. Ortiz walked Taylor down in that 3rd and connected with hard rights to the guts of Roy Taylor. Close fight but the USAF boxer wilted a bit by the 3rd. West Point has another Champion! Jeramias Ortiz gets the decision and is now the 2013 NCBA Champion at 125lbs.
Bout 4, 132 pounds, Kevin Jones of the US Military Academy at West Point versus Josh Lopez of UMASS. It’s a very intense but sloppy first round. Lopez got a few bolts in but Jones is pressing the action. Both men are grappling, and both are warned by the referee. Lopez loses a point in the 2nd for holding. Lopez is southpaw who needs some room to punch and Jones' aggression is preventing him from getting off. Lopez loses another point for holding and it’s hard to see how much of the grappling is really his fault. Jones is so close and in his chest that Lopez has few options but to grab. This will likely be a tough loss for Lopez. He really tried but was never able to find the range on the pressing Jones, whose quickness really carried him. Wow!! Josh Lopez pulled it out! He is absolutely stunned and delighted. A few boos from the crowd but that was a rough and ugly but very close bout. Josh Lopez of UMASS is the 2013 NCBA Champion at 132lbs.
Bout 5, 139 pounds, Gabriel Sanchez of San Jose State University versus Emmanuel Osei of the US Military Academy at West Point. Osei pressing the action in round one, as is typical with most of these West Pointers. Sanchez is finding him with his own shots. Good action first. It's a real rumble! Lots of punches thrown at close quarters from both guys. Osei is landing repeatedly with a bolting right lead. Speedy shots by both men. The 3rd sees more of the same with these fighters leaning against each other, cheek-to-cheek, jowl-to-jowl and banging away. It’s a close fight but the decision goes to West Point's Emmanuel Osei. Good effort from Gabe Sanchez of San Jose State in a very fun fight to watch. Emmanuel Osei is the 2013 NCBA Champion at 139lbs.
Bout 6, 147lbs, Sebastian Mims of the US Military Academy at West Point versus Norberto Perez of the US Coast Guard Academy. Mims, like Ceon Harris, is the other fighter in this NCBA Tourney with a really good-looking professional prize-fighter style. Mims had a solid first, stinging Perez with speedy blows with either hand. Perez has a huge cheering section but it didn't help much in rd 1. Perez got a couple licks in to the delight of his supporters but Mims continues dominating. This one is closer than Mims' first 2 bouts in this tourney. It looked as though Perez got a little frustrated in there and how can you blame him? That's a lop-sided win for one of West Point's finest. Sebastian Mims is the 2013 NCBA Champion at 147lbs.
Bout 7, 156 pounds, it’s Army vs. Navy! Zach Hildebrandt of the US Military Academy at West Point faces Noah Weintraub of the US Naval Academy. These two are very quick of both hand and foot. Nice right hook to the body by the southpaw Weintraub near the end of the first. That was a close competitive round. Weintraub's nose is bleeding in the second and Hildebrandt stung him with a couple hard shots. The 3rd is heated! With Weintraub rallying and he looks to have taken it. His busy right-hook was really getting things done. As they wait for the scores it’s obvious both guys know it's close. And West Point grabs another one in a bout that really could have gone either way. Overall, Noah Weintraub was one of the stand-outs in this tourney, both in skills and thrills, from his effort tonight as well as yesterday where he got off the deck to win and qualify for this final round. But these judges liked Zach Hildebrandt's effort and he is now the 2013 NCBA Champion at 156lbs.
Bout 8, 165lbs, and this should really be something... hard-swinging, crowd-favorite Josh Surgeon of the US Coast Guard Academy vs. Denis Vorobyov of USAF. Josh Surgeon put lots of pressure on Vorobyov in the 1st but the USAF boxer fought back well. They both slam together in a clinch over a neutral corner and almost took out the ESPN cameraman with their momentum. Surgeon's style is the cruder one here and Vorobyov is showing real coolness under fire, he’s landing straight shots on a bulling, pressing foe. Vorobyov has gotten himself some punching room and he blasts a tiring Surgeon on the outside, keeping him from pressing in final 30 seconds of the bout. Surgeon kept trying to land an uppercut from too far out and Vorobyov made him pay for it with his own straight right. But Surgeon's work rate, especially early, swings it for him with the judges. Josh Surgeon is the 165lbs NCBA Champion at 165lbs.
Bout 9, 175 pounds, US Coast Guard's Taylor Tennyson versus Josh Quintana of West Point. Tennyson pressing the action in the first as most of these aggressive Coast Guarders have. Quintana, who's boxed well on days 1 and 2 has his hands full. Tennyson really wants this and he's throwing punches like a man possessed. Quintana's nose is bloodied but he's landing infrequent but heavy shots. Quintana has gotten himself some punching room in the second with a stinging one-two to the face of Tennyson, but the Coast Guard won't be denied. Tennyson is throwing with both hands and leaning forward with the effort. In round three he snaps back the head of Quintana with a bolting right and scores an 8 count; and then another! The screaming Coast Guard cadets in attendance certainly think they've got another champion... and they do! The Judges decide Taylor Tennyson is the NCBA Champion at 175lbs.
Bout 10, 185lbs, Liam Spellane, of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, vs Josue Gaytan, of the University of Nevada Reno. The shorter Gaytan walks Spellane down in the 1st; Spellane is scoring from outside but the big right from Gaytan gets in repeatedly. Gaytan is beating Spellane to the punch again and again. In the third, Gaytan blasts away at the head of Spellane and he scores a standing 8 count...and then another! When the decision comes it’s for Josue Gaytan, the 2013 NCBA Champion at 185lbs.
Bout 11, 195 pounds, Kevin Briscoe of the US Naval Academy versus Jon Maddux of West Point. These are big men with really quick hands. Maddux seemed to land the heavier blows in the first but Briscoe got through a bit more often especially in the final seconds. It looks as though Maddux has found the range in the second. He fires one, two, three shots and rolls out to the side, a great balance of speed, power and movement from the West Pointer. But Briscoe is still alive in this one. He's gotta let his hands go more often, but Maddux is surprisingly elusive and making it difficult. Briscoe rallied a bit in the final seconds of round three but it's doubtful it was enough to close the gap in shots landed. The officials see another win for WestPoint. Jon Maddux is the 2013 NCBA Champion at 195lbs.
Bout 12, and the final fight of the NCBA Tourney, pits heavyweight Max Goldwasser of the US Naval Academy against Olawale Lawal of the USAF Academy. The first was a close one between these two big men. Lawal has the straighter, speedier punches thus far. The southpaw Goldwasser is getting in a few scoring straight lefts but Lawal lands a heavy right near round's end that gets some gasps from the crowd. Lawal continues to outwork Goldwasser over the final two frames. Quite honestly if more professional heavies fought like either of these gentlemen, who are in shape and let their fists fly, boxing would be a bigger sport in the US of A. When the decision comes it’s a second championship for the Air Force. Olawale Lawal is the 2013 NCBA Champion at HWT.
Also, the award for Boxer-of-the-Night (119-147lbs) went to Sebastian Mims, of West Point, and Boxer-of-the-Night (156lbs-HWT) went to Taylor Tennyson, of the Coast Guard Academy. An award for Best Sportsmanship went to 156 pound Colin Schmitt of University of California Davis who lost to Zach Hildebrandt yesterday in the semi-final.