Bengal Bouts: Boxers head to finals Friday
Joe Meixell | Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Chris Izaguirre def. Patrick O’Brien
Not even a badly bloodied nose could slow down Izaguirre, a man on a mission after losing by split decision in last year’s title bout, en route to his victory by unanimous decision in the night’s first fight.
“It’s been a lot of hard work, but this is really a dream – one of the highlights of my Notre Dame career, aside from graduating of course,” Izaguiree said. “[Last year’s loss] really lit the fire under me for this year, and I’m looking forward to hopefully taking home.”
O’Brien’s edge in height turned out to be a disadvantage, as the smaller, quicker Izaguirre put the freshman on the defensive early. O’Brien battled back in the second, though, and the fight was briefly stopped because of Izaguirre’s bloody nose.
The senior took his fair share of jabs, but he was able to land a number of hooks in the latter part of each round that proved to be the difference.
Matthew Conti def. Andrew Mok
“The Steel Curtain” Conti came down hard on Mok, with Conti winning by unanimous decision.
In the first round, Conti managed to knock Mok to the mat twice, and he stayed on the offensive for the entire round. Mok attempted to evade his opponent, but Conti chased the fellow freshman around the ring, keeping Mok on the defensive for all three rounds.
In the final round, Mok made a few attempts at a comeback, but any move made was countered by a series of blows from Conti, who continued to dominate the fight.
Bobby Powers def. Chris Cugliari
Powers won his second straight split decision thanks to an aggressive first two rounds, which gave him the early advantage and, eventually, the victory.
“I had seen Cugliari fight and he’s a really good fighter,” Powers said. “I just tried to come out strong and not be timid, and just work hard.”
Cugliari was able to land a few jab-hook combos that caused Powers to stagger backward early in the third round, but Powers was able to keep his hands up and block the devastating punch Cugliari needed to land to overcome Powers’ early lead.
Chris Hartstein def. John Biddle
In a fight that saw more wrap-ups than big punches landed, Hartstein defeated Biddle by unanimous decision.
Hartstein, the shorter fighter, came out more aggressively than Biddle, getting him against the ropes a few times in the first round.
“It’s hard when a guys taller, you’ve got to get inside,” Hartstein said. “I just dropped low and tried to come upstairs and go the distance. He was a tough fighter”
After an uneventful second round, Hartstein managed to back Biddle into a corner in the final round. By the end, both fighters were visibly exhausted, exchanging punches for only a few seconds before wrapping each other up again.
Mark Costanzo def. Mark Weber
Costanzo did most of his damage in the latter half of the first two rounds before dominating the third against Weber, who was visibly tired and struggling to mount any attack toward the end of the fight.
“I was just trying to figure out what his game plan was, and once I saw what he was doing, I was able to work around it, get in there, and counter as much as I could,” Costanzo said. “My strength is my movement – I try to stay pretty quick in the ring – and strategy, knowing what my opponent’s doing and being able to counter it.”
Weber held a slight edge for the first two rounds before Costanzo closed out the second with a series of sharp hooks that sent Weber staggering back. Costanzo was able to drive Weber toward the ropes multiple times in the final minute to secure the victory.
Tim Thayer def. Phillip Hicks
“Boston Tea Party” Hicks quickly turned into the Boston Massacre, as Thayer, a sophomore from Zahm, quickly disposed of the senior from Dillon in a first round knockout.
Thayer landed a few good jabs to open the round, and followed with a resounding hook that knocked Hicks to the mat and left him visibly dazed.
Taking advantage of Hicks’ weakness, knocking him to the mat twice more with solid jabs before the referee was forced to stop the fight.
“He was just a little bit off balance,” Thayer said. “I just caught him leaning a couple of times.”
Lawrence Sullivan def. Paul Mower
Heading into last night’s semifinal bout, Sullivan, a senior captain and reigning champion, had seen it all in his time in the boxing program – except for a left-handed opponent.
“I was fighting a lefty, which I’ve never done before – I’ve never really even sparred against a lefty,” Sullivan. “I watched a lot of film of some good pro fighters fighting lefties, and it took the first round to kind of feel it out before I settled in. There were things I would have liked to have done better, but I was happy to take the win against a lefty.”
Sullivan was able to hand Mower, a fellow senior, the first knockdown of his career with a big right hook early in the second round. Sullivan displayed the quickness and tenacity that allowed him to defeat Mike Hennig, a senior captain a year ago, in last year’s title fight, and a dominating performance earned him the right to defend his crown.
Sullivan was the only one of this year’s four senior captains to advance to a championship bout – a testament, he said, to the captains’ ability not only as boxers, but as teachers.
“It’s hard because the seniors are working on coaching a lot of people, and you can see just from the level of fighting this year that they did a really good job at hammering in the fundamentals,” Sullivan said. “I think maybe they were trying some new, more advanced stuff, and got away from the fundamentals that kids they taught actually beat them with. It’s tough to see since they gave so much.”
Kris Perez def. Matt Posluszny
Perez, a junior, took advantage of a strong second round and cruised to a victory by unanimous decision over Posluszny, also a junior.
After a quiet first round that saw neither fighter take a clear advantage, Perez took control in the second, getting in several good body shots against the taller fighter.
“I had to fake up top and just exploit the bottom,” Perez said. “That’s where I had more surface area to hit.”
Perez didn’t strain himself in the final round, and comfortably moved on to the finals, where he will face senior Lawrence Sullivan.
“He’s bigger and stronger and I’m slicker and quicker,” Perez said of his upcoming bout. “Styles make fights and it’s going to be a good one.”
Alex Gonzalez def. Ryan Frost
Gonzalez had waited long enough to throw his first punch – thanks to a first-round bye and a second-round scheduled opponent who was unable to fight due to a concussion, this semifinal bout was Gonzalez’s first of the year.
“Speedy” Gonzalez honored his nickname, barreling into Frost just as the opening bell sounded.
“I had a lot of frustration because of that, a lot of jitters because I hadn’t fought yet, but other than that, it was just like any other fight,” Frost said. “Getting rid of the jitters and listening to my corner [were definitely the biggest keys]. Whenever they told me to throw a combo, I’d do it, and it worked out.”
Gonzalez maintained his early momentum throughout, avoiding any major blows and landing several of his own en route to the victory by unanimous decision.
Mark Bennett def. Pat O’Brien
Bennett, a senior, came out swinging and held on to defeat O’Brien, a senior captain, by a split decision.
O’Brien seemed to be caught off-guard when Bennett came out energetically with a frenzy of jabs. O’Brien seemed to regain his composure by the end, but the first round ended with neither clearly in the lead.
“[Bennett] came out there with a lot of intensity,” O’Brien said. “It was a tough fight.”
In the second round, the fighters traded jabs, with Bennett landing a few good hooks and what appeared to be a slight lead after two rounds.
O’Brien came back in the final round, landing a solid right hook, but was knocked down when he appeared to trip after getting hit by Bennett.
After the fight, Bennett said that his style matched up well with O’Brien’s.
“I knew that Pat was going to be really aggressive and that’s kind of my style as well,” Bennett said. “I knew that I was in real good shape and I was ready to go to battle with him.”
Jim Devereau def. Jesse Brawer
After a rough first round-and-a-half that culminated in Deverau getting the wind knocked out of him and having to retreat to the corner, completely hunched over, only one thing was running through his head.
“Uh, try not to get hit in the ribs again,” Deverau said with a laugh following his victory by unanimous decision. “He took the wind out of me pretty good there.”
The bout saw a senior captain fall for the second straight fight, as Brawer controlled the fight’s first half and looked to have set himself up for an easy victory by the middle of the second round, when the fight was briefly stopped as Deverau caught his breath.
From there, though, it was all Deverau, as he landed a bevy of strong jabs and uppercuts that got the crowd more involved than in any fight before it.
After battling back to a near deadlock through two rounds, Deverau left no doubt in the third, as Brawer slowed down considerably in the fight’s final 30 seconds. Brawer, who began the fight with a series of lightning-quick jabs, couldn’t muster much of an attack against the lefty.
“I think the righties have it a little tougher because they don’t get to see the lefties in practice as much,” Deverau said. “Lefties are always seeing righties in practice, so we’re used to it.”
Jordan Bucci def. Nathan Rothenberger
Bucci, a sophomore from Alumni, held off a late rally from Rothenberger, a sophomore from Keough, to win by unanimous decision.
Both fighters came out strong, trading a flurry of jabs, and the first round ended with no clear leader.
In the second, Bucci landed some good hooks on Rothenberger and appeared to take a slight lead.
Rothenberger came back strong in the third round, even managing to get Bucci against the ropes and land several hooks. Bucci countered well though, and did just enough to take the fight.
“I didn’t know I won until they called my shorts,” Bucci said. “I thought it was super close.”