Bengal Bouts: Champions crowned
Mike Monaco and Brian Hartnett | Sunday, March 4, 2012
Jack “Rico Suave” Lally def. “Tough As” Niels Seim (133 pounds)
The first fight of the night was a rematch of last year’s finals matchup, with the juniors Lally and Seim squaring off once again. For the third year in a row, Lally claimed the title.
“Once it again, it’s awesome,” Lally said. “It’s a huge relief this year, if anything just because there is a lot of hype having won last year. There is an expectation to come back and perform … I’m really happy right now.”
The first round was uneventful as both boxers showed their quickness and agility and evaded their opponent’s best efforts. Seim and Lally both managed to land a few punches here and there, but for the most part the juniors were content to stay at home and let the other boxer open up and potentially leave himself vulnerable. For Lally, that fighting style fit right in with his game plan.
“I’m one of the lankier kids in the 133 [pound] division,” Lally said. “Typically, my plan is just to keep guys away with a stiff jab and basically take the center of the ring and make him work for his points. I was just able to keep [Seim] away from me and use my reach advantage. That’s pretty much what it came down to. There were a few times when he broke in on me and I had to pivot out and try to reestablish that space. But once I had that space established, I felt like I was able to control the fight.”
Seim went on the attack in the second round and had Lally retreating. He landed punches with strong left-right combinations that had Lally backpedaling out of harm’s way.
The final frame began with both guys swinging for the fences in what was an even third round. Seim landed his fair share of punches, but Lally stood strong and countered aggressively. In the end, Lally got the win by split decision.
“Last year, it was a unanimous win [against Seim] and this year was a split so this year was definitely a little bit closer,” Lally said. “He put up a really good fight … He’s a great competitor so I was really happy to get out with a win on this one.”
Nick “Bronco” Bortolotti def. Will “The Thrill” Peterson (142 pounds)
Senior captain Bortolotti concluded his boxing career at Notre Dame with a split decision win over sophomore Peterson, the defending champion. The senior from Elmhurst, Ill., was thrilled to go out in dramatic fashion.
“I feel fantastic,” Bortolotti said. “I’m a senior and it really means a lot that in my last fight I was able to get the [win].”
The fight was tightly contested and the two boxers were evenly matched throughout. The first round saw lots of tie-ups as neither boxer separated himself from the other. Peterson deployed a quick left-right combo but Bortolotti countered strongly to close out the round.
Bortolotti survived an onslaught from Peterson to open up the second stanza and came back by throwing some punishing lefts. Bortolotti seemed to grab the upper hand in the match toward the end of the second round as he got in some good punches near the ropes. Bortolotti commended Peterson’s skill as a fighter and said he needed the second-round success to pull out the win.
“Will is a great fighter,” Bortolotti said. “He is really slippery and moves really well. So I just wanted to try to get him on the ropes and I was able to do that in the first two rounds before I kind of ran out of gas and he got me a lot in the third. But I managed to do enough in the first two rounds to get the win.”
The O’Neill Hall resident dodged well and threw some monster punches in an attempt to swing the balance of the match in the third round. Bortolotti, who had his previous two fights stopped before the third round, was admittedly tired as Peterson landed some big shots.
“[This] was easily the most challenging fight all year,” Bortolotti said. “We had a strong bracket, but I went through and won my quarterfinal and semifinal matches by [referee stopped contest]. So this one was definitely the first time I had to go the distance and fight from bell to bell for all three rounds.”
In the end, though, Peterson’s efforts were too late and Bortolotti got the win.
Kevin “The Commisioner” Ortenzio def. Ben “Danger Zone” Eichler (148 pounds)
Senior co-president Ortenzio looked to be in trouble through the first two rounds as Eichler connected with some heavy shots time and again. However, in the third round Ortenzio, the defending champ, unleashed a vicious right that knocked down Eichler and secured the win.
“The first thing to say is wow,” Ortenzio said. “What a way to go out in such good fashion too. Ben is a really tough kid and he came out slugging me and I will be honest, I took my beating from him in the first and second rounds. Fortunately, I stayed on my feet and finished on a good note.”
Eichler had the upper hand throughout the first four minutes of the match, as he utilized vicious right hooks and uppercuts. The sophomore continued to control the match with a variety of punches until the end of the second round, when Ortenzio forced a lot of tie-ups and dodged some shots from Eichler.
Ortenzio admitted that through the first two rounds, he was just trying to weather the storm.
“I knew he threw a lot of hooks and a lot of uppercuts,” Ortenzio said. “So I tried to stay at home, keep the arms protecting, and maybe give a good punch or two or surprise him with an uppercut, but apparently that didn’t play out. I just had to ride the tough ride through the second round and once I saw the sign of him letting up, that’s when I went on my attack.”
Ortenzio did just that in the third round, as he got Eichler in the corner and connected with a slew of shots. Eichler, who had yet to go three rounds in a match, looked tired as Ortenzio seemed to just be warming up. Ortenzio threw a strong left followed by the monster right that knocked down Eichler and secured the win.
“Endurance was [the key],” Ortenzio said. “The heart was there. Technique might have been out the window – I was a little wild – but the heart was there. All the work since October has paid off.”
Sunoh “What Is This? I Don’t Even” Choe def. Garrity “Biscuit” McOsker (154 pounds)
Junior Choe made it four straight wins for the blue corner as he won by split decision against the freshman McOsker.
“It feels good,” Choe said. “It was a hard fight, so it feels good.”
A hard fight it was as neither boxer could grab control of the fight during the first round. Choe landed a powerful right near the ropes but McOsker came back strong as the two then exchanged right uppercuts. McOsker then threw another uppercut but Choe managed to fight back near the ropes.
Choe began to separate himself from McOsker toward the end of the second round, as he went back to the uppercut with McOsker up against the ropes. Choe closed out the second frame firing on all cylinders as he picked his spots.
“[The fight] was a lot cleaner because [McOsker] is a technical fighter,” Choe said. “So I knew the match was going to be clean. It wasn’t going to be a brawl. So it was actually better for me. I had to think my way through the fight.”
McOsker, who has professional fighting experience, displayed strong technique throughout the match and used it in an attempt to turn things around in the final stanza. The freshman was aggressive to start the round but Choe stood strong. The junior then utilized his quickness and showed some aggressiveness as he landed a headshot with his right. Choe said he needed that aggressiveness to get the win.
“I wanted to keep to what I already knew,” Choe said. “I knew he was more technical than I was so I tried to do what I do best, which is just being aggressive and using my quickness.”
Joey Kim def. Greg Cunningham (158 pounds)
In a battle of two boxers hailing from New York, the junior Kim got the win by split decision as he used his length to keep the senior Cunningham at bay throughout the match.
The first round got off to a slow start before the two fighters each landed some solid shots. Kim went on the offensive and connected with some punches that had Cunningham retreating.
Cunningham seemed to let Kim go on the attack some more, as Cunningham waited for his opportunity. He quickly counterattacked and landed some lefts.
Kim responded though and had Cunningham retreating for the rest of the first round.
The second round opened up with both boxers being extremely aggressive at the start. Kim and Cunningham exchanged a long flurry of punches in the corner of the ring, but then Kim then seemed to gain the upper hand in the match as he continued to utilize his long reach.
Kim then shifted his approach slightly and repeatedly unleashed a powerful right hook that left both boxers exhausted at the conclusion of the second frame.
Cunningham tried to take control of the match to begin the final round, as he landed some strong head shots that got him back into the fight. The rest of the round was marked by exhaustion and slow punches, and Kim got the win by split decision thanks to a solid first two rounds.
Alex “El Gatito Loco” Oloriz def. Inoh “Lights Out” Choe (165 pounds)
The junior captain Oloriz won his first title in his third trip to the championship as yet another match was decided by split decision over the senior Choe.
“I couldn’t believe when he held up my hand that it was real,” Oloriz said. “I’ve been [to the finals] twice and didn’t go the way I planned. When it started out, I felt it going that way. When I woke up this morning and was going through the day, I just felt that there was something special about this day; something was going to tilt my way. It feels really good.”
The match began uneventfully with hardly any punches landing through the first half of the opening round. Choe then landed a big punch that had Oloriz tripping backwards near the ropes. The senior Choe then continued to go on the attack, and he managed to retreat easily when Oloriz countered.
Oloriz was slightly more aggressive to start the second round, but Choe held his own just fine. Both boxers were dodging well and there were still hardly any big punches landed. They then got each other up against the ropes in successive sequences, and the match remained pretty evenly contested.
“I’ve never been more confident in my cardio, in my ability to keep going,” Oloriz said. “I figured [Choe] has a little speed on me — I knew he was a little faster — so I wasn’t going to use up all my energy early on, but I was going to make it a slow grind … He got me towards the end of the first round pretty good, but I felt like I still stayed outside. During the second and third rounds, I decided to keep going and then in the third round I turned it up and just let it all out.”
Oloriz did just that in the final round as he got Choe in the corner and landed a bevy of punches. He continued attacking and threw some shots that had Choe staggering a bit. The two were exhausted at the end of the fight but Oloriz got the win by split decision in a fight that he said he was excited to partake in.
“All year I knew [Choe] was the best opponent out there,” Oloriz said. “We both have similar styles. We both have similar heights. It was just going to come down to who was boxing really well that night. I was really excited to get the chance to fight him in the finals. I wouldn’t want to fight anybody else. He was the best opponent I could ask for in terms of a final matchup.”
Ryan “Dirty” Alberdi def. Jake Joe (171 pounds)
In a matchup of runner-ups from last year, the two fighters engaged in a defensive struggle that saw neither boxer break through with many big punches.
The junior Alberdi helped set the tone in the first round by aggressively going on the attack, a strategy that contrasted with the sophomore Joe’s more defensive style of fighting. Alberdi relied on a mixture of high punches and quick jabs to land some early punches.
Although he largely stuck to his defensive strategy in the second round, Joe used his height advantage and long reach to land some high jabs on Alberdi, knocking Alberdi off-balance early with a powerful jab-hook combination. Alberdi rebounded with some hard body shots to move Joe back at the end of the round.
“There were a lot of times when we would both throw and land some good shots on each other,” Alberdi said. “My strategy was to push the pace of the fight a couple of different times, which I think helped me.”
Alberdi came out swinging to rapidly speed up the pace in the final round, pushing Joe against the ropes early and using several right hooks to land headshots on Joe. The two fighters came after each other with far more punches in the final minute, looking for a strong last-gasp effort to secure the victory.
Alberdi’s stronger performance in the first and third rounds helped secure him a victory by unanimous decision.
“Last year, I made it to the finals and lost, so I said that this year was my year to win,” Alberdi said. “It feels good to finally do that.”
Connor “The Skellator” Skelly def. Joe “Send in the Troll” Garrity (180 pounds)
In a clash of seniors, Skelly used his lanky frame and quick footwork to his advantage, keeping Garrity at bay with his signature quick jab.
Garrity, taking the place of law student Brian Salvi, created several opportunities for himself in the first round, pinning Skelly toward the ropes at two different points during the round. Skelly, however, managed to dance away from several of Garrity’s punches and threw in a few jabs to move Garrity back.
“With the extra 30 seconds in each round, you just can’t go in there too aggressively; you need to pick your punches,” Skelly said. “I just looked for opportunities and stayed calm.”
The second round took on a decidedly defensive character, with neither boxer able to land many punches. Skelly went on the attack early in the round, going after Garrity with high jabs and landing a few shots. Garrity spent the rest of the round trying to capitalize on his opportunities, but Skelly kept up his tight defenses.
The final round took on a faster tempo, with both fighters throwing series of punches. Skelly landed the biggest punches of the round, knocking Garrity down with a flurry of upper body shots and throwing Garrity off balance with a hard headshot. Garrity landed some headshots late, but it was to no avail, as Skelly took the victory by unanimous decision.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” Skelly said. “It just feels great to win, especially after all my hard work throughout this season.”
Chris “Not Brian” Salvi def. Adrian “Yo Adrian” Moreno (188 pounds)
In one of the most anticipated fights of the evening, both fighters used their powerful frames to their advantage, pummeling each other with powerful punches that kept the outcome of the fight in doubt until the very end.
The pigtail-clad senior Salvi came out of the gate with visible aggressiveness, immediately hitting fellow senior Moreno with some hard body shots and a rapid uppercut. After seeing his first punches foiled by Salvi, Moreno broke through toward the end of the round, mixing in an array of headshots that put Salvi against the ropes.
The start of the second round featured both fighters unleashing their hardest punches, but neither boxer saw much success in landing them. Salvi changed his attack, going after Moreno with a right hook to the stomach and then adding a left hook to Moreno’s face to force him into the corner. Although Moreno was able to break away from Salvi, Salvi once again landed a high left hook to trap Moreno against the ropes.
The final round provided a fitting conclusion to a top-notch bout. Salvi began the round with some strong lower body shots, forcing Moreno back. With much of the crowd in his corner, though, Moreno rebounded to land a big shot to Salvi’s face that left Salvi’s nose bleeding. After Salvi landed a headshot, Moreno continued to attack high, landing several headshots to move Salvi back against the ropes. Both fighters continued to throw a flurry of punches before the round came to a close.
In a very close fight, Salvi was awarded the victory by split decision.
Brian “Caesar” Salat def. Bart “The Guv’nor” Dear (204 pounds)
In one of the most aggressive fights of the night, both fighters entered the ring with an intensity that would last throughout the entirety of the match.
This intensity was visibly apparent in the first round, as both fighters traded an array of lower body shots early on. The senior Dear looked to go on the attack for much of the round, but the junior Salat largely fended off his low attempts. Salat capitalized on his defense at the end of the round, countering Dear with a series of left hooks.
“My strategy was really to stick with what I know and not mess up what I had been doing,” Salat said. “I fought this bout in the same way I had been practicing since October.”
The second round saw Dear use sound defensive tactics, taking advantage of his smaller frame and lower stance to evade Salat’s punches. After stopping Salat’s early attack, Dear moved Salat on the ropes and tried to wear him down with a constant stream of lower body punches.
Both boxers engaged in a slugfest in the final round, fighting through fatigue to hit each other until the final bell sounded. After a wild flurry of punches to start the round, Dear zeroed in on Salat with a series of high punches, knocking him into the ropes with a few headshots. Salat threw every punch in his arsenal to move Dear back, ultimately hitting him with a powerful uppercut to the head.
In a very close bout, Salat took the victory in a split decision.
“I haven’t really comprehended the victory yet,” Salat said. “I’m just thinking of all the hard work and effort it took to win this championship.”
Daniel Yi def. Nate “Catdome” Arnold (Heavyweight)
After winning the 198-pound division last year, sophomore Daniel Yi moved up to the heavyweight division for this year’s tournament. Despite fighting in a much heavier division, Yi successfully relied on a sound technical strategy, as he fully demonstrated in his victory over law student Nate Arnold in a thrilling heavyweight championship bout.
The first round set the tone for the bout, as Yi relied on his stamina to get away from Arnold, who held a significant height and weight advantage, and wait for an opportunistic time to get his punches in. Yi was able to move in and land a few high jabs on Arnold, but Arnold succeeded in knocking Yi back with some pummeling body shots.
“My strategy was not to let him push me around too much, since he was the bigger guy,” Yi said. “I wanted to continue what I had been doing, but I also wanted to be smart and keep a good distance from him.”
Yi showed little restraint in starting off the second round, coming in high on Arnold with a series of jabs and knocking him against the ropes early. Yi continued to attack with a series of high body shots and kept Arnold on the defensive for much of the round.
The fight became decidedly more physical in the final round, as Arnold used his brute strength to push Yi off him at several points. Arnold gained some momentum by landing some strong lower body shots.
Arnold’s efforts were not enough, as Yi won the bout by split decision on his way to being named best boxer of the year.
“It feels great to win, especially after a long season,” Yi said. “The quality of the fights was better this year, and there were so many great boxers in this year’s field.”
Peter Steiner and Brendan Bell also contributed to this report.