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Bengal Bouts: Boxers enter second day, thousands of tickets sold

Brian Hartnett | Tuesday, February 21, 2012

After recovering from an intense round of preliminary fights, 88 Notre Dame boxers will return to the ring tonight for the quarterfinal round of the 82nd annual Bengal Bouts tournament.

Forty-four fights across 11 weight classes, ranging from the 133-pound weight class to the heavyweight division, are on the docket.

The quarterfinal round comes after an action-packed preliminary round, held on Feb. 12, that featured 58 bouts spread across two boxing rings. Although the number of fights in the preliminary round was down from last year ­­— there are 20 fewer boxers — this year the quality of fights seemed to be much improved, junior boxer and captain Jeff Ulrich said.

“I think the smaller field helped to make the preliminary fights really good, since there wasn’t as many No. 1 seeds beating up on No. 16 seeds,” Ulrich said. “There were a lot of intermediate seeds fighting each other, and the quality was definitely improved which is a reflection of how hard everyone prepared.”

Ulrich said he noticed a surprisingly low number of knockouts in the preliminary rounds and several more fights lasted all three rounds. Ulrich also said the novice fighters in the first round made impressive debuts, as several boxers scored victories in their first official fights in the ring. Novice victors included freshmen Kevin Katalinic, Eric Tommarello, Keegan Somers, Eric Palutsis and Evan Escobedo.

Since Bengal Bouts functions as both a boxing tournament and charity fundraiser, the preliminary round also acted as a revenue generator for the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh, which receive all proceeds from the bouts. Ulrich said he estimated  the Boxing Club has sold about 2,000 tickets so far, a number that will likely rise to 4,000 by the time the final round commences.

With the preliminary round complete, competition will heat up as the quarterfinals begin and boxers move on to challenge more skilled and experienced opponents. Some of these opponents will include former champions and captains, as the majority of these boxers received a bye for the preliminary round.

“It will definitely be exciting to see the No.1 and No. 2 seeds who had to sit out the first round get their turn to box,” Ulrich said. “Only three of the captains boxed in the preliminary round, but eight of them will be in the ring for this round.”

Some of the boxers who will look to defend their title from last year include junior Jack Lally in the 133-pound weight class, sophomore Will Peterson in the 142-pound weight class, senior Kevin Ortenzio in the 148-pound weight class, law student Brian Salvi in the 180-pound weight class and sophomore Daniel Yi in the heavyweight division.

Yi’s scheduled bout against freshman Michael Voge will help mark the beginning of action in the heavyweight division, which did not hold a preliminary round. With eight boxers, the heavyweight division has one of its largest fields in years.

“I think it’s great that we have a bigger heavyweight field than we did in past years,” law student and captain Nathan Arnold said. “Heavyweight fights are usually highly anticipated by the fans, since it features the biggest guys out there hitting each other really hard.”

With a number of strong boxers present in this year’s field, though, Ulrich said he expected just about every fight to be competitive, with few clear-cut favorites standing out among the competition.

“I think each weight division has at least three or four guys who can fight for a title,” Ulrich said. “That is really exciting to me because it means there’s no definites in this year’s tournament.”

The quarterfinal round begins tonight at 6 p.m. in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu