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Bengal Bouts: Boxers compete in championship round of tournament

Matthew DeFranks and Andrew Gastelum | Monday, March 7, 2011

134 pounds

Jack “Rico Suave” Lally def. Niels Seim

With a victory over his fellow sophomore opponent, Lally defended his title, relying on a patient, opportunistic strategy. The two-time champion began the fight cool and composed, parrying multiple jabs from Seim, waiting to make his move. Lally soon started his relentless attack at the beginning of the second round, relying on a swift counter-attack against his opponent’s brief combinations.

“You want to flow and get your combinations but then you have to sit back and collect yourself, get a little breath, rest your arms, and then get back at it,” Lally said. “So I did that a couple of times and it paid huge dividends.”

The smaller, stockier Seim landed a few shots to Lally’s head early in the second round, but from that point on, it was all Lally, who relied on straight punches and intermittent jabs.

“I felt like I executed my strategy great actually,” Lally said. “I was a little bit taller than he was so the whole plan was just to keep him outside with my jab and throw a lot of straight punches.”

Seim tried to rebound in the third by keeping on the move, hopping around his challenger but Lally landed a devastating shot in the middle of the third that sealed the win by unanimous decision.

143 pounds

Will “The Thrill” Peterson def. Brett “Italian Ice” Sassetti

In a fight that was a new experience for both freshmen fighters, both Peterson and Sassetti came out firing from the ring of the opening bell. Peterson relied heavily on a destructive hook that caught his opponent off guard on more than one occasion, but the fighters were evenly matched throughout.

“I felt about the same [as the other rounds] because once you’re in the ring, it’s just you and the other guy and that’s how it is for all of them,” Peterson said.

Using this approach, Peterson remained poised despite Sassetti’s strategy to pin him against the ropes. But every time Sassetti opened up to strike his opponent, Peterson met him with a flurry of jabs to the head that kept Sassetti on the defensive up until the end of the second round.

“I knew that he was going to come at me really aggressive so I was going to try counter [when he came at me],” Peterson said. “I was able to succeed at that [in] the first two rounds, but in the third round I got tired and he started hitting me hard.”

The first two rounds were dominated by Peterson, but Sassetti made a valiant effort at a comeback in the third. Sassetti was on the attack the entire round, knocking Peterson into the ropes multiple times, while he used left-right combinations to keep Peterson off balance. The late effort was not enough, however, as Peterson took the title by unanimous decision.

148 pounds

Kevin Ortenzio def. Ryan “Welcome to the Jungle” Slaney

From the match’s onset, Ortenzio’s speed was too much for Slaney’s length as the junior won by unanimous decision. Ortenzio began with a sweeping left hook that caught the senior off guard and set the tone for the match. Slaney relied on his reach to keep Ortenzio off-balance for much of the first round.

“It was a much different fight than what I had previous rounds because this one was a lot more strategic,” Ortenzio said. “He was a smart boxer; he obviously has the good fundamentals down and everything, so it took a lot of effort on my part because not only did I have to really punch, I had to find openings.”

Ortenzio trusted his quick jabs, eventually landing an imposing one-two combination straight to Slaney’s head late in the second round. The momentum carried over into the third round, where Ortenzio looked even more energized, countering every attempt by Slaney.

“I don’t want to necessarily say it’s a dream come true but I guess it kind of is,” Ortenzio said. “I mean you work this long and hard and finally it comes up and your arm gets raised and it’s the greatest feeling.”

154 pounds

Thomas “The Mean Justifies the” Enzweiler def. Alex “Gatito Loco” Oloriz

Slow but steady set the pace for the tall and lanky Enzweiler, as the senior seemed to gain confidence and energy as the fight went on. Oloriz — sporting classic Chuck Taylors — started fast, using his low center of balance to create leverage against the taller Enzweiler.

“I had fought him before in practice; we’ve sparred a couple of times and I knew he was fast with good hand speed,” Enzweiler said. “He can really charge at you so I had to keep my long shots and jabs out there to keep him at a distance and move laterally to try and get out of the way of his flurries.”

This speed was displayed at the end of the first round, as Oloriz leveled the senior with a violent right hook at the end of the first. But the fast pace wore the sophomore down, as Enzweiler was able to take control of the match, interrupting Oloriz’s uppercuts with combinations late in the second round.

Oloriz knew he had to finish strong in the third, but Enzweiler kept his distance from the sophomore’s quick jabs with long strikes that limited Oloriz’s speed. Enzweiler landed a few punches to Oloriz’s headgear at the end of the third to seal the win by unanimous decision.

“It feels unbelievable, especially since I don’t usually win at stuff like this, but I finally found a sport where being long and lanky is an advantage,” Enzweiler said.

157 pounds

Colin “The Lion” King def. Paul “Hawaii K.O.” Hayes

In an epic back-and-forth match that featured six medical timeouts and the loudest ovation of the night, the sophomore King edged out a split-decision victory over the senior Hayes in a total slugfest. Hayes started out with the upper hand, beginning the fight by landing big shots on King and ending with three straight shots to the sophomore’s face. The trend continued into the second round when Hayes knocked King down twice with huge swings to the head, with King bouncing up immediately both times. This series was the turning point for King, who bombarded Hayes with headshots, almost knocking the senior out of the ring with a series of blows against the ropes.

“My strategy was to not get hit like this, but once you get hit like this you need to respond,” King said. “I never really felt on top the whole time but I just kept giving it my best and I guess that worked.”

The third round capped off a thrilling match as Hayes landed a succession of shots to King’s head while King returned with a massive blow that snapped the senior’s head back. But both embraced immediately at the bell, amid a standing ovation that rocked the Purcell Pavilion.

“I really can’t say enough about Paul Hayes,” King said. “He’s just a tremendous competitor. The man does not stop. I felt like I was being chased down the whole fight.”

160 pounds

Bobby Powers def. Ryan Alberdi

The poised Bengal Bouts president used experience to his advantage, outlasting his opponent. The two-time winner has never missed the finals, and it showed as Powers used a balanced attack of body strikes and counter jabs to wear down Alberdi. The sophomore never was able to land a series of clean shots on Powers, who repeatedly dodged punches while countering with combinations in the first round. In the second round, Alberdi came out with a different approach, going on the defensive while trying the occasional uppercut.

“My strategy was to stay calm and fight smart,” Powers said. “

The two-minute rounds of the finals take so much more energy, and I knew I was going to need to save it for the third round so I could finish strong.”

But Powers unleashed a fury of punches at the start of the third round, landing multiple strikes to the sophomore’s head and body. Alberdi returned with a shot to Powers’ head, but he tired as the fight went on as he exposed himself to the senior’s unyielding attack that earned him the unanimous decision, sending the president out with a title.

“It was crazy mix of happy and sad with it being my last fight,” the senior said. “I was ecstatic about winning and how well the tournament went for raising money, but at the same time bummed that it was over. Boxing has really been my life for the last couple years, so I guess I’ll have to find a new hobby.”

167 pounds

Brian “Yeah, Cool Beans” Salvi def. Jake “One Blow” Joe

In one of the few fights with a defensive character, neither the law student Salvi nor the sophomore Joe landed any big early punches. While Salvi applied a little pressure, he still used a very defensive mindset to keep Joe, who applied little if any pressure, at bay in the first round.

“I think given my height and reach being defensive was the way to go because then I could kind of dictate the pace and keep him on the outside and not let him pick up any points on the inside,” Salvi said.

The pace, however, picked up in the second round. Still focused on defense, the shorter Joe was able to avoid a few of Salvi’s attempted big hits. Salvi was able to land a trio of right hooks midway through the second round that put him in control and Joe on the ropes.

In the third round, Salvi continued to use his unorthodox stance and repeated dekes to keep Joe guessing. After he absorbed a Joe left hook, Salvi returned with a series of quick left jabs that Joe never fully recovered from. In such a defensive bout, neither boxer was really ever off balance. In the end, Salvi won by unanimous decision.

“You put in a ton of work, a ton of blood, sweat and tears so when you get all the way to the end, it makes up for everything,” Salvi said. “So it took me two years, but I can’t tell you how happy I am.”

170 pounds

Greg Bennett def. Nick Severyn

In the 170-pound championship, both fighters landed several shots in an energetic, aggressive fight. In the first round, Bennett used his quick feet to avoid the captain Severyn’s lunging punches. Bennett said he had to tweak his game plan a bit to match up with Severyn.

“Originally, I wanted to outbox him but he came up pretty hard, and it became sort of a brawl, which isn’t my piece of cake,” Bennett said.

The second round was full of action — but only when there were not any tie-ups. Following a couple quick right jabs from Bennett, Severyn responded with a flurry of body shots, only to be tied up by Bennett. The repeated tie-ups drew loud jeers from fans, who thought Bennett was striking Severyn when Severyn’s arms were wrapped around Bennett.

While the first two rounds were not particularly slow, the rapid third round made them seem that way. As soon as the bell rang, the two boxers quickly traded blows, unleashing any saved energy they had left. Severyn seemed to gain an advantage when an uppercut and a barrage of hooks forced the referee to pause the match. Bennett, however, pulled out the unanimous decision.

“I have to give it up to all my fans, as usual, who did a great job supporting me all this year in the tournament and actually last year,” Bennett said. “It’s great to know that they’re going to be around next year, as well.”

176 pounds

Dominic “The Warsaw Warhammer” Golab def. Bernardo “Blue” Garcia

A fight between the returning three-time champion Garcia and Bengal Bouts captain and co-president Golab lived up to its high expectations. After an early feeling-out period, Golab was able to weather the early storm and avoid Garcia’s quick hands by ducking and dipping out of the way.

“My strategy was staying as relaxed as possible the first two rounds,” Golab said. “I was trying to feel him out [and] see what works and what doesn’t and really not getting too excited and too wild so that when I enter the third, it’s my round that I’ll be in better shape and that I’ll be able to win it.”

An aggressive Golab got on offense almost immediately, firing body shots and forcing the more upright Garcia to the ropes. Garcia, however, responded with his own punches to end a fairly even second round and set up a third round that would determine the outcome of the fight.

While Golab, once again, came out somewhat aggressively with a bull rush and body shots, Garcia responded by holding and tying up the fight. Golab continued to work, pushing Garcia to the ropes with a trio of jabs. Golab followed up with an uppercut when Garcia’s guard was down and left him off balance. Golab knocked off the defending champion with a split decision victory.

“I cannot be more happy. This was probably the best experience I had the four years [at Notre Dame]. I learned so much, I got to go to Bangladesh, I got to be a junior captain [and] president now,” Golab said. “I hadn’t won yet and I won tonight, so it was just the best way to end a career especially against a three-time champion, so I just feel ecstatic.”

182 pounds

Mike “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner” Urciuoli def. Tyler “Tuna” Plantz

A match-up pitting the senior Urciuoli against the freshman Plantz was rampant with adrenaline early, causing wild punches early from both boxers. Urciuoli threw — and missed — on some big hooks early. Plantz, standing a stocky 5-foot-6, landed a slew of hooks and uppercuts to end the first round with Urciuoli on the ropes.

“I went in with a lot of strategy and 30 seconds into the first round, that all went out the door,” Urciuoli said.

The second round was a mere continuation of the first round with lots of traded punches but no real momentum or giant blows. Both Urciuoli and Plantz showed surprisingly adept defense for how aggressive the match was. Each fighter was able to duck and slide as well as negate big punches with counterpunches of his own.

Plantz, wearing throwback basketball high-tops instead of traditional boxing shoes, forgot his mouthpiece to start the final round. But that — and a lost contact lens earlier — did not stop him from coming out strong in the third. Plantz hammered away at the tiring Urciuoli with right hooks and uppercuts, placing his opponent off balance. Urciuoli was able to connect on a few jabs, though, scoring points in his favor. Ultimately, Urciuoli won by split decision.

“I’ve come close before. I made it to the semis last year and lost in a pretty disappointing fight, and this year it’s just great that I finally had all that work come to fruition, and lead to a victory in my ultimate goal,” Urciuoli said. “It’s tough to draw up any stories better than that one. It’s a kind of storybook ending.”

192 pounds

Mike “The Bringer of Rain” Doran def. Bill “The Italian Stallion” Straccia

When Straccia entered the ring for the first time on Friday night, he was delivering punches not to his opponent, but to himself in an effort to pump himself up. By the end of the fight, however, it would be the senior Doran supplying the headshots to his fellow senior Straccia.

Doran, a Bengal Bouts captain, seemed tentative in the first round while Straccia looked comfortable, moving around the ring with ease. Straccia used his jab to set up his monstrous right hook early on, landing one particularly vicious punch on Doran. Doran, however, was able to counterpunch effectively.

“My defense and my reach are my two strong points, so those coupled together make me a strong counterpuncher,” Doran said. “I like it when my opponent comes at me and I’m able just to dodge and counter their attack.”

Doran kept to his defense in the second round, ducking away from a few sweeping hooks from Straccia. Doran was also able to fire jabs in between Straccia’s hands and into his face. Following the first round, Straccia refused to use the corner stool. After the energetic second round, however, he called for it almost immediately.

Doran came out in the third round with an extra pep in his step, using that excess energy to land jab combos, forcing Straccia to the ropes and even causing a stumble from his foe. Doran collected his second consecutive championship by unanimous decision.

“There was not as much pressure, because I was a captain this year, and I traveled to Bangladesh this last summer and so the mission became what this was about to me and the boxing was just icing on the cake,” Doran said. “A win in the ring is awesome and there’s no feeling like it, but there’s a better feeling of sending over a check for $150,000 that you know is going to build a new school and change kids’ lives.”

198 pounds

Daniel Yi def. Christopher “Stubbs” Sarkis

The last time the sophomore Sarkis stepped into the ring was Feb. 13. Instead of rust, though, his freshness shone through very early on in his championship bout with the freshman Yi. As soon as the fight started, Sarkis came out strong, landing a multitude of hooks. Yi responded, however, with right hooks that, on separate occasions, forced Sarkis off-balance.

“Honestly, I was afraid and I was nervous, but at the same time I was confident, kept myself calm, tried to keep breathing, going through the fight in my head, because the biggest thing for me was mental preparation,” Yi said.

After a somewhat frantic first round, the second round slowed down dramatically. Sarkis’ wide hooks opened up the middle for Yi to attack with sharp jabs and score points.

In the third round, both fighters’ fatigue was evident in their punches. After a sequence of close compact body shots, a powerful right hook from Yi pushed Sarkis into the ropes and paused the fight momentarily. Yi took advantage of the tiring Sarkis at the end, landing a jab that coincided with the last bell of the fight. Yi took the crown with a unanimous decision.

“I can’t wait to come back next year and see these guys come again,” Yi said. “There’s improvement every year and there’s going to be a fresh batch of new fighters next year and I’m just really excited.”

Heavyweight

Kevin Crepeau def. Nathan Arnold

Senior Bengal Bouts captain Crepeau had come into the finals each of the last three years only to leave empty-handed. That all changed on Friday night against the former Linfield football player Arnold.

Arnold, a law student, came out of the gate with a storm of early uppercuts that caught the shorter Crepeau. Later on in the round, Arnold’s bull rush succeeded in pushing Crepeau off-balance.

“He’s so powerful, the plan was stay away from his power and score points when I could,” Crepeau said. “Because his hands were a little low, I was able to score a couple points in every round. And really, I just won on points, not anything other than that.”

Crepeau flipped the script in the second round, taking the part of the aggressor and attacking high with his left hand and low with his right hand. The southpaw Crepeau landed jabs and uppercuts to coerce Arnold into a tie-up. The momentum had started to swing.

When the third round came, Crepeau was in in total control, firing quick right jabs and big combos at Arnold. The now-tiring Arnold was merely looking for an opening, but he never found one. Crepeau won by unanimous decision on his way to the best boxer of the year award.

“I won the heavyweight championship, I got the best boxer trophy [and] I think we made a bunch of money for the missions, which is the most important thing,” Crepeau said. “So just really on all three accounts I couldn’t be any happier.”