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Bengal Bouts packs a punch

Luke Busam | Wednesday, March 3, 2004

The 2004 Bengal Bouts began with a massive field of 135 boxers, and this year’s intense tournament has refined that field to 44. Those appearing in tonight’s semifinals will be further purified by the night’s end, with only the top two boxers in each weight division moving on to the St. Patrick’s Day finals.

135-pound classAction kicks off tonight at 6:30 p.m. with the first fight of the 135-pound weight class. No. 1-seeded junior Jon Valenzuela will meet a serious challenge in senior Pedro Alves. Alves needed only two rounds to dismiss his quarterfinal round opponent, Tim Jaeger.In the second 135-pound bout, sophomore Bobby Schmitt takes on senior Larry Hofman. Both fighters have already beaten ranked opponents in the tournament this year. Schmitt overcame third-seeded Andrew McGill and Hofman beat No. 2 seed Michael Feduska on Monday. Both wins came in split decisions, and this fight should be a close one.

145-pound classTwo experienced, skilled fighters meet in the first bout of the 145-pound division tonight. Luke Dillon, who received the lone bye for the division, beat James Russell on Monday in a unanimous decision. Dillon takes on fellow senior Mark Pfizenmayer, who used his reach advantage to secure a unanimous-decision win over Ed Liva Monday. Neither of these veteran fighters has yet advanced to the finals. Todd Strobel has been impressive in his first Bengal Bouts, beating Matt McConnell in the preliminaries and edging Chip Marks in Monday’s quarterfinals. Tonight, he will face his most difficult opponent in Paul Robinson. Robinson has been tough as he moved through the early rounds and stands firmly in the way of Strobel’s finals hopes.

150-pound classFreshman Jordan Runge has proven he is a contender thus far in the tournament by beating junior Kevin Rycyna and senior David Harmon. Tonight he faces one of the best in the bouts, senior TJ D’Agostino, who danced his way past freshman Clayton Lougee Monday.In the other semi-final, junior captain Galen Loughrey established himself in last year’s tournament as a superb defender, rarely taking an uncontested shot to his head. He faces senior Jon Pribaz, an opponent who has shown he can capitalize on an open punch opportunity. Pribaz floored his opponent, freshman Jon Brewis, just 40 seconds into round one on Monday with a left hook that is the strongest punch of the tournament thus far. Loughrey has put in extra time working with left-handed fighters to prepare for the fight and will not likely be caught off guard.

153-pound classRyan Duffey is looking for his second career trip to the finals this year, but junior Bobby Gorynski currently stands in his way. Last year, Duffey lost a split decision to law student Paul Harris in the 145-pound finals. On Monday, Duffey defeated sophomore Michael Dolan and Gorynski earned a win by beating Nathan Schomas.

Tim Huml and Corey Harkins both received first-round byes and showed spectators why with convincing unanimous-decision victories on Monday night. Huml beat senior Don Zimmer and Harkins defeated sophomore Joe Rehmann. Both have similar styles and should match up well in tonight’s semifinal.

155-pound classJunior captain Nathan Lohmeyer was relentless in a unanimous decision victory over sophomore Paul Hagan on Monday night. Lohmeyer is the No. 1 seed in the 155-pound division and that victory was his first fight of the tournament. Tonight, he faces sophomore Mark Basola, who beat senior Sean Tucker in the quarterfinals. Both fighters are seeking their first career trips to the finals. Both junior Mike Panzica and senior Brandon Gasser beat tough opponents in the quarterfinals to advance to tonight’s semis – Panzica won against veteran Ted Volz and Gasser held off the rushing freshman Adam Burns. If Gasser wins tonight, he will return to the finals for the second time in his Bengal Bouts career.

160-pound classColin Kerrigan looks to secure his second career trip to the finals tonight. Last year, Kerrigan won his first championship in the 155-pound division. Tonight, the experienced junior takes on senior Alex Roodhouse. On Monday, Roodhouse defeated freshman Nathan Dyer in two rounds and has fought well in the early matches of the tournament. Senior Bill Phillip faces his last chance to make it to the finals tonight, but must overcome junior Justin Alanis to do so. Phillip has been one of the premier fighters in this year’s bouts, beating senior Peter Boldin and sophomore Brian Flaherty thus far. Alanis has looked strong, as well, with an impressive win in the prelims and a stopping of the warrior Charlie Gough on Monday.

165-pound classTonight’s matchup between Alex Fergus and Ross Bartels is the first of two great fights in the 165-pound division. Fergus is the defending 165-pound champion and looked good in his win over Jesus Bravo on Monday night. Bartels defeated law student Billy Hederman and freshman Preston Carter and established himself as a strong contender for the title. Both fighters have long reaches and similar styles, which should make for an excellent fight.Craig Thompson used his jab well in defeating sophomore Alex Borowiecki on Monday and will have to do so again in his fight tonight against senior captain Pat Dillon, who was assertive and comfortable in his first appearance in this year’s tournament by beating the brawling Pat McMorrow Monday. Dillon will need to stay focused defensively throughout the fight if he is to make it to the finals.

170-pound class Senior captain Tommy Demko is a skilled fighter who has fallen just short of the finals in his career. Matthew Smith, a law student, hopes to make that happen again. Demko, who earned a unanimous-decision victory over freshman Brian Sefton Monday, should match up well with the taller Smith. Senior James Ward will face Brian Nicholson in the next 170-pound bout. On Monday Ward overcame a skilled senior in John Wahoske and Nicholson beat a stiff competitor in Matt Knust.

180-pound classJunior captain Jim Christoforetti faces a tough opponent tonight in senior Denis Sullivan. Both are skilled veterans with several years of experience and this fight is guaranteed to be excellent. Eric Callahan will meet fellow senior Larry Rooney in the second bout of the 180-pound class. Both are great fighters, making the 180-pound class one of the toughest in the tournament.

Light heavyweight classSenior captain Billy Zizic established himself as one of the best with his performance on Monday night. Tonight he faces sophomore Brian Bylica, who overcame Padraic McDermott Monday by unanimous decision. Tonight, sophomore Chris Cavanaugh faces one of the best natural fighters the Bengal Bouts has seen in years in Johnny Griffin, a first-time fighter who moves with years of experience.

HeavyweightsCaptain and returning heavyweight champion Stefan Borovina makes his first appearance in the tournament tonight. Borovina faces fellow senior Doug Pope to start off the heavyweight division.On Monday, Nathan Schroeder won the lone quarterfinal heavyweight match, overcoming Mike Tennant. Tonight he faces Daryl Burton, who faced Borovina in last year’s finals and seeks to reach the finals again this year.