Bengal Bouts: Breaking down the finals
Observer Sports | Friday, February 26, 2010
124 pounds: Jack Lally vs. Steven Rivera
According to Bouts co-president Chris Cugliari, “[Lally is] a tall left-handed freshman, ver advanced for a freshman. Very good technique with solid power behind his left hand with good range.”
Of the senior light-weight Rivera, Cugliari said, “Rivera is small. He’s very calm in the ring, and fights with good defense. He closes the distance well.”
When Chris Cugliari says a fighter is advanced for their age, that means something, especially when he has sparred with said fighter. Lally’s left hand will likely catch the lighter Rivera off guard early, and he’ll hold onto that lead.
Hey Steven, I could give you 50 reasons … why you’re going to win this fight.
133 pounds: Chris Cugliari vs. Michael Sayles
Cugliari will look to his jab to set the tone in the finals after losing in the semis last year. The senior captain possesses a nice balanced technique with punishing punches for a lower weight class.
Sayles, a senior captain as well, will return to the finals where he fell last year. He will look to use his quickness to avoid Cugliari’s jabs and to create opportunities for dangerous combinations.
In the lower weight classes, speed generally beats power. Thus, Sayles beats Cugliari.
When I interviewed Cugliari Monday, he was wearing a Cavs shirt. So he literally had, “Be the undisputed favorite but choke at the last second” written all over him. But if anyone can erase some of Cleveland’s woes, it’s him.
140 pounds: Michael Johnston vs. Albert Toscano
Johnston will look to claim his first title on the strength of his ability to throw many punches in a short period of time. Even as he throws one punch, he moves into position for the next.
Toscano suffered a bloody nose in the semifinals, but still won the round unanimously. That just goes to show how his quickness makes up for his lack of reach and every punch he throws, hurts.
While Johnston throws more punches than seems possible in short rounds, Toscano works the body, until he gains access to the head, and then he ends it.
Objectivity is key here, and it would just be biased for me to pick a second Clevelander. Plus, Toscano sounds like “Tuscan” which makes me think of pasta. And pasta is fantastic.
147 pounds: Kieran Bulger vs. Kevin Ortenzio
Bulger, a senior, is a defensive fighter who shows great discipline. He uses his opponent’s aggressiveness against him, and utilizes a strong final round to leave his opponent hurting.
Ortenzio’s deliverance of punches, especially uppercuts, allows him to rack up points while avoiding blows from his opponent. Look for him to get out fast, and stay ahead throughout.
In the semifinals, Bulger showed a tremendous right hook. If he connects with Ortenzio’s chin more than once, Ortenzio may not fully recover for a week or two.
Bulger’s hometown is Schaghticoke, N.Y., which I can neither locate nor pronounce. But anyone who is from there is probably tough and awesome.
151 pounds: Tim Thayer vs. Bobby Powers
Thayer is one of the strongest fighters in the tournament and is now looking for his third title in three years. If he claims it, he will have his strong right hand to thank, along with years of experience.
Last year Powers beat then-Bouts president Mark Weber in the final. This year in a class six pounds heavier, he’ll look to use his range to his advantage, and possibly end another fight early.
In a fight that cannot be over-hyped, two defending champions meet. The two have never been in the same weight class, and, after a tough fight, Thayer will prevail for his third title.
In every generation there is a chosen one, destined to fight the Powers of evil. The “Slayer” will deliver strong punches and witty remarks on the way to victory.
155 pounds: Ryan Slaney vs. Adam Cowden
“Dayman” Slaney started slow in his semifinal matchup, but before the fight was over, had bloodied his opponent’s nose twice. Obviously, is punch has power, but his defense could use work.
Cowden hits harder than anybody else in his weight class, but, like Slaney, the sophomore leaves himself open to a shot or two as well. Will need to keep face intact to get the win.
Both boxers could end this fight with bloodied noses, so weak stomachs please turn away. In the end, Cowden hits harder, he just needs to keep his nose from bleeding too much.
The senior lives in Carroll Hall, which means he has to be extra fit just to get to class every day. That extra conditioning will translate into a win.
160 pounds: John Maier vs. Alex Oloriz
Maier returns to the finals looking for redemption after his defeat last year. The senior captain relies on an extended reach to slip his punches in.
The freshman Oloriz throws accurate and lethal punches that turn into combinations without pause. He will need to use such to get under Maier’s long reach.
Last year Maier lost to Dan Rodgers, and Oloriz bears some resemblance to Rodgers, but Maier’s experience should overcome Oloriz’s youth, and in three full rounds, Maier will come out with his title.
I’m picking Maier on the condition that he never grants an interview to Playboy.
163 pounds: Jordan Bucci vs. Matt Hopke
Bucci looks to defend his title. The senior has been to the finals each of the past three years, and last year overcame the threat of a longer reach to claim his title.
This is Hopke’s first trip past the semifinals. To earn the title he will need to rely on his timing and quickness. Hopke’s best bet to upset Bucci is to start quickly.
If the housemates and former Alumni residents wait until Saturday to ease the title tension, expect Bucci’s experience and grittiness to top Hopke in the most emotional fight of the night.
Both earn points for being proud Dawgs. Hopke gains the edge because his sister lives in Cavanaugh.
166 pounds: Jason Miller vs. Gregory Bennett
“Pretty Boy” Miller often attempts to feel the other fighter out first; if Bennett attacks early, he will evade and attempt to take advantage. Look for the senior to land combionations throughout the fight, and to stay technically strong through three rounds.
Bennett answers the first bell with an explosion of intense energy. He goes on the offensive at the beginning of every round in an attempt to put his opponent on the back foot. Expect a large contigent of Zahm supporters to provide energy for the sophomore late in the bout.
This one will likely end in a split decision. Miller packs a solid right punch, but Bennett may be quick enough to avoid it through three rounds. At which point, some rowdy fan support could prove to be the difference.
I wanted to pick Miller in hopes that he could hook me up with some free cookies from Subway, but props have to go to Bennett for being the only finalist to take his headshot shirtless.
173 pounds: Alex Kissinger vs. Matthew Paletta
Kissinger brings an attacking mentality to the ring and often drives his opponent to the ropes. He pushes his attacks relentlessly, and aims to wear his opponent out over a long fight. Paletta’s best bet is to force the point with Kissinger, taking control of the match early.
Paletta bides his time early in matches, and uses breaks between the rounds to recharge before charging at the start of the second round, and throughout the third round. Look out for the senior’s strong, consistent punches late in the match.
Kissinger is one of the best conditioned fighters in the tournament, and over the years it has been proven time and time again that in toss-up matches, the competitor in better shape will previal. Kissinger will look to wear out Paletta, and by the end will simply blast his fellow senior against the ropes.
He’s from Detroit. Consider this a pity pick.
180 pounds: Mike Doran vs. Dominic Golab
Doran will test Golab early, feinting and throwing the occasional punch. He will be aggressive but controlled in the middle part of the match and eventually his long arms should allow him to land punches from outside Golab’s reach late in the fight.
Golab, the “Warsaw War Hammer” ousted senior captain Nick Ponzio in the semifinals, and now faces last year’s 175 lb. runner-up in Doran. Golab should match up well with Doran, as his physical style could reduce Doran’s length advantage. Golab did leave himself open to late shots from Ponzio.
Doran is a tough fighter, there is no way around that. Last year he put up a tough fight against Bouts legend Mike Lee, and this year Doran’s experience has made him a much smarter fighter. Golab will be a test, but Doran will wait for an opening, and then use his length to claim his first title.
Doran spends his evenings raising money for the University at the phone center. Someone that noble can’t possibly lose.
189 pounds: Bernardo Garcia vs. Tim Wallace
Bernardo “Blue” Garcia is a tall, lanky fighter with a long reach. He does not have an explosive uppercut or right hook, but employs his jab to set up a straight right. Garcia stays on the outside of the ring and picks his spots well, waits for the attack to make a mistake, and capitalizes.
Timothy Wallace is another tall fighter who uses a straight left jab to set up a straight right hand that comes right at the nose of the opponent. He lunges with the jab and follow-up right hand, and avoids taking the big shot well. He rarely lets himself get caught off balance and should challenge Garcia.
Garcia was literally knocked out of the ring in his semifinal match, but the junior has been in the final before, and after a loss last year down at 170 pounds, he seems to have bulked up this year. He will use that bulk as well as his reach to put Wallace’s attacks at bay.
What do we have, “Blue”? A pair of gloves, a towel, and a referee’s shirt? Let me go to my thinking chair… looks like you have a boxing title!
205 pounds: Pat Burns vs. John Tchoula
Burns maintains a low, wide stance that makes him difficult to attack. He relies on the opponent coming opening up in attacking, allowing Burns to deal a quick right, then a swooping left aimed at the chin of the opponent. When the opportunity arises, he strikes, and does so effectively.
John “Papi” Tchoula is a strong fighter who stays low, dodges jabs and uses quick, strong, rights and lefts to the body to weaken his opponent. If Tchoula delivers a jab to Burns’ head, he could steal the fight as his decisive blow has the power to drop nearly every fighter in the tournament.
In the fight of the night, Burns enters his fourth final, seeking his first title, but he is about to run into a brick wall in Tchoula. Tchoula’s only weakness the past two years has been fighting against length. Fortunately for “Papi,” Burns is possibly a bit shorter than he is, and will not be able to hold off Tchoula’s powerful, repeated shots.
Just look at these guys’ pictures. Two winners right there.
Heavyweight: Will Burroughs vs. Kevin Crepeau
Will “at the Edge of Darkness” Burroughs is simply an imposing physical specimen. His unique combination of height, weight and quickness is a nightmare for the opposition. No one has put up a decent contest for Burroughs so far, and it will be a wonder if Crepeau does so.
Kevin “The Long Beach Lumberjack” Crepeau is a heavy-handed southpaw, a big guy that uses a stiff right-handed jab to set up a left hook aimed at the head of the other fighter. He will need to land that punch early and often to top Burroughs for the first time in three tries.
These two meet up in the final for the third time in three years. Once again, Burroughs’ massive size will be the difference. Each punch he throws has the potential to end the fight, even his jabs meant to keep the opponent honest. Burroughs should prepare for his third title.
His nickname, “At the Edge of Darkness,” would be a great name for a super-emo band made up of teenagers from suburban Minneapolis.