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Bengal Bouts: Going out with a bang

Mary Green and Samantha Zuba | Monday, March 4, 2013

138-pound: Jack “Rico Suave” Lally def. Mark Frego
In the opening fight of the 83rd Bengal Bouts finals, the senior captain Jack Lally won by unanimous decision and became only the 12th competitor in Bengal Bouts history to win his weight class all four years. The possibility of earning that distinction placed many expectations on the senior, pressure he said only dissipated once the fight was over.

“[It’s] just a sense of relief,” he said. “It’s a lot of pressure that I’ve put on myself … and it’s just nice to have that achievement under my belt.”

Lally began with an aggressive approach, while the sophomore Frego elected to take the defensive, avoiding Lally’s jabs with quick steps around the ring.

Lally said he wanted to remain in a composed mindset that would carry him through the duration of the bout.

“[My mindset was to] stay calm,” he said. “Just trust your skills, trust your fitness and everything will take care of itself. I just didn’t want to let the emotions get to me before the fight.”
Lally did stay calm at the beginning, landing early body shots on Frego The sophomore responded with a quick one-two combination and avoided an entrapment in the corner as the first round came to a close.

In the second round, Frego was not able to avoid a corner trap again, as Lally sent a flurry of punches to his opponent’s body to force him back. The O’Neill resident fought his way out of the corner again by sending two direct shots to Lally’s head.

Lally came back with his earlier aggressiveness, but Frego ducked under his combinations before landing another headshot to close the round.

The third round began evenly until a strong jab from Lally gave Frego a bloody lip, leading to an injury timeout. Both boxers came back with the same quickness with which they began the fight, but Lally gained strength as time progressed and landed several shots to Frego’s torso to close the fight, earning the victory by unanimous decision.

144-pound: Ben “Danger Zone” Eichler def. Kevin “Git ‘Er” Dunne
Junior Ben Eichler collected another win for the blue corner with his unanimous-decision victory over senior Kevin Dunne and ensured he did not go home empty-handed in the finals for the second straight year.

Dunne elected to begin in a protective position with his gloves guarding his head. When he did move his arms, he threw deliberate punches that landed on his opponent’s stomach.

Eichler responded with a series of jabs and uppercuts to Dunne’s torso, continuing his torrent with a strong right hook to his head. The opening round ended evenly, as the two exchanged punches to close out the round.

In the middle round, Eichler countered a Dunne one-two combination with a hit to Dunne’s head, followed by a jab to his stomach that sent him staggering backwards.

Eichler sent a flurry of punches to Dunne’s body before Dunne used a clinch. The pattern repeated, with Dunne as the aggressor.

The final round began with a string of jabs from Dunne, who ducked under Eichler’s retorts before landing several more shots to his body and head, but Eichler still held the advantage.
Fatigue started to set in for both fighters after two-plus taxing rounds, but Eichler pushed through the tiredness with his goal of winning in mind.

“It was a struggle, but it helped to know I was winning at that point to just ride it out,” he said.

The fighters swapped hits, with Eichler landing high and Dunne landing low right before Eichler landed two final body shots to end the fight. Eichler won by unanimous decision.
The victor said he wanted to take in the finals experience as a whole and stay composed throughout the bout.

“[I wanted to] try to be as calm as possible and not worry too much about the win, just try to enjoy the experience and put on a good show,” he said.

148-pound: Devin “Opel” Duffy def. Sean “Skinny Hips” Hipskind
In a matchup of two sophomores, Dillon resident Duffy bested Keenan’s Hipskind to claim the championship in a Referee Stopped Contest.

Both fighters came out with energetic demeanors, quick on their feet and with their hands. Hipskind possessed a height advantage over the shorter Duffy, who chose to come out offensively to downplay his opponent’s length as much as he could.

“I wanted to be as aggressive as possible,” he said. “I knew Sean had a height and reach advantage, so I wanted to get inside him and wear him down.”

Duffy, a first-year Bengal Bouts competitor, used this aggressive approach to corner Hipskind early on, leading to the first of three clinches of the fight. The pair fed each other simultaneous headshots until a Hipskind uppercut found an exposed part of Duffy’s stomach.

As the first round concluded, the two traded more punches to the head, with Hipskind opting for hooks and Duffy electing to use jabs.

Duffy’s approach continued into the second round, as he took high shots while Hipskind went low to reach his opponent’s midsection. After a long period of give and take, Duffy trapped Hipskind against the ropes and hit him with two strong uppercuts to the torso.

Duffy cornered Hipskind twice more in the round, serving him with forceful headshots each time, but Hipskind was not able to escape the third entrapment. After he received a bloody nose, the referee stopped the contest and awarded the title to Duffy.

With both fighters giving all they could offensively, the winner said he knew it would be a long and tough bout.

“My mindset was ‘Be ready to go to war,'” Duffy said. “I’ve gotten to know Sean through the Bengal Bouts program, and we’ve become friends throughout the season. We had sparred twice before the tournament started, and both times there were some big punches, bloody noses and black eyes from both sides. I knew this time would be no different.”

155-pound: Garrity “Biscuit” McOsker def. Joey “Kangaroo” Kim
In the fourth bout of the evening, sophomore Garrity McOsker took the 155-pound crown from senior Joey Kim.

Both fighters showed their prior finals experience by standing in strong defensive stances and firing with strong, calculated punches. Last year, McOsker was the 154-pound class runner-up, while Kim claimed the 158-pound title.

In this fight, Kim held the height advantage, though McOsker’s strength matched the pair up evenly. McOsker used his lower center of gravity to duck from punches and stay steady when the taller Kim made contact.

“I was constantly changing my distance, changing my rhythm,” McOsker said.

The even fight continued into the second round, with both making contact to the other’s head. McOsker utilized a one-two combination to combat Kim’s high jabs to the head. One of these punches sent McOsker back a few steps, but he quickly recovered to land his own headshots and hold his advantage as the second-round bell dinged.

In the third, Kim alternated high and low punches to try to turn the momentum in his direction. McOsker made contact with Kim’s head, but Kim responded with a forceful cut to McOsker’s stomach.

After a clinch, Kim blocked several of McOsker’s jabs before launching a series of his own punches. The bout quietly came to a close with both boxers in the defensive stance, and McOsker captured the title by unanimous decision.

“It’s been a wonderful year, and it feels great [to win], especially after getting so close last year in a fight that was similar because it was so highly contested with two great fighters, but to be able to win this time was incredible,” McOsker said.

162-pound: Danny “Natty” Leicht def. Chris “The Crank” DeLillo
Senior captain Danny Leicht avenged his semifinals loss last year when he claimed a win this year over fellow senior Chris DeLillo.

As the bout began, the two boxers displayed similar stances, staying low and in protective positions. Each used quick footwork to avoid the other’s early punches, setting the defensive tone of the first round. DeLillo landed an early shot to the head of Leicht, and the pair exchanged one-two combinations before clinching in the middle of the ring. Leicht made contact with DeLillo’s head on a strong right hook right before the end-of-round bell rang.

The fighters came out in the second round with more offensive mindsets, as DeLillo fired a series of headshots, and Leicht responded punch for punch. DeLillo fell to the mat when he took a forceful hit to the head and lost his footing. The referee called a timeout to tend to DeLillo’s bloodied nose.

Leicht said he wanted to put his whole self into the fight and leave with no regrets, which he demonstrated with his relentless offense in the second and third rounds.

“Just knowing it was my last one, [I wanted to] leave it all out there,” he said.

Coming out of the break, Leicht gained momentum on a strong one-two to DeLillo’s jaw in combination with a series of jabs to his torso. The referee stopped time twice more in this round for trainers to tend to DeLillo’s bloody nose.

In the final round, Leicht continued his display of power, with two headshots sending DeLillo to the ground once again. A fourth bloody nose turned out to be one too many for DeLillo, and the referee stopped the contest in the beginning of the round to award the championship to the captain.

For Leicht, the victory represented a successful end to years of dedication to the program.

“It feels great,” he said. “[It’s] the culmination of a couple years’ work, so it feels good.”

166-pound: Jeff “Little Bear” Ulrich def. Patrick Shea
Senior captain Jeff Ulrich defeated Patrick Shea, the lone freshman finalist, to earn his first Bengal Bouts title.

Ulrich opened with a defensive approach, protecting himself and blocking Shea’s strong jabs. Since Shea held the height advantage, Ulrich kept low and avoided the freshman’s punches, waiting for slots to open up.

“I tried to work levels, I guess, go low-high, … try to change angles,” Ulrich said.

Using his jab, Shea landed a few punches to Ulrich’s stomach, but Ulrich responded with a quick one-two combination. Ulrich then went on the offensive by landing his left hook several times to Shea’s head, though Shea stood strong and countered with a few head shots of his own before the first round concluded.

The second began with a more cautious and calculated approach from Shea than in the first round. Ulrich came out swinging, playing the role of the aggressor. Shea gained strength and opened his stance more as the round progressed before Ulrich connected on a series of headshots. Shea retreated into his defensive position again, blocking Ulrich’s punches to close the round.

In the final round, Shea came out strong with forceful jabs. The fighters traded punches for the remainder of the bout, both landing hooks to the other’s upper body. Shea hit the captain with one final punch to the head to end the fight, but it was not enough, as Ulrich claimed the unanimous victory.

For Ulrich, the culmination of four years of hard work and dedication in his win was sweet, he said.

“It was my first time even in the finals, so just getting the chance to be on the big stage was amazing,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of time and effort in, and I’m glad that it paid off, though honestly if I had lost to Pat, that would be awesome too because he’s a great fighter, and he might never lose a fight [again].”

Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu

168-pound: Sunoh Choe “No Mercy” def. Alex “El Gatito Loco” Oloriz
Both senior Alex Oloriz and senior Sunoh Choe utilized their quick hands, which made for a fast-paced fight when the boxers began to throw their gloves. The two seasoned boxers threw solid punches but fought conservatively in the first round. Choe said this fit in well with his strategy.

“I wanted to keep everything really tight, conservative, make sure I wasn’t punching too wide or wild or anything,” Choe said. “He covered up really well so I was going to use different punches and throw them straight.”

Oloriz and Choe were more aggressive in the second round and expanded on their measured one-two combinations. Choe added body shots, which Oloriz countered with his right hook to push Choe away from the inside as both boxers settled into the fight.

“It takes me a while to loosen up,” Choe said. “I found my openings and realized I needed to start throwing heavier punches or he was going to keep coming at me.”

Choe opened the third round with a flurry of hooks that put Oloriz on the ropes, but Oloriz fought his way out of the corner. Oloriz turned around and forced Choe onto the ropes moments later. Choe threw a final set of hooks to close the fight and Oloriz responded with two one-two combinations.

Choe won the fight by split decision.

176-pound: Brett “Italian Ice” Sassetti def. Pat “No MRSA” Bishop
Junior Brett Sassetti used his jab effectively in the first round as he stepped into the ring with senior Pat Bishop. He strung multiple jabs together to push Bishop away from the inside, which gave him room to throw his straight right. Bishop feinted frequently and quickly, but took a few sharp jabs to the face. A flurry of one-twos forced Bishop into the corner. Unable to fight his way out, Bishop tried to dance out of the corner but took a hook to the side of his head on his way out.

In the second round, Bishop blocked better and answered Sassetti with a few jabs and straight rights. But Sassetti minimized damage by preventing Bishop from staying inside too long.

As Sassetti visibly tired, Bishop took advantage and struck with a well-timed jab and straight right. With his face bloodied in the third round, Bishop continued to fight back, which made the bout a close decision. He started the round aggressively with a crisp one-two combination, before working his way inside to throw two uppercuts.

“That’s when I kind of said ‘Screw it, I’m just going wild,'” Sassetti said. “I lost my technique and was just kind of going for brawling.”

Sassetti responded with a straight right and right hook straight to Bishop’s face. Both boxers tired by the middle of the round and brawled with body shots before closing the bout with a final jab each. Sassetti won by split decision.

185-pound: Ryan “Dirty” Alberdi def. Brian “Smiles” Salvi
In their fight, both law student Brian Salvi and senior Ryan Alberdi danced around in the first round and started slowly to determine the other’s style.

Salvi utilized a leveled technique, alternating body shots with head shots. Senior Ryan Alberdi blocked well and moved fluidly around the ring. He repeatedly darted in with his jab, but Salvi’s right hook kept him from staying inside, which Alberdi said he needed to do.

“I knew Salvi was a very good opponent,” Alberdi said. “He hits hard, he’s quick. My game plan was to keep my hands up and get inside so that he couldn’t use his reach.”

Alberdi backed Salvi into the ropes to start the second round, but Salvi turned things around and forced his opponent away with a jab. Alberdi answered with a sweeping left hook.  Salvi returned to his up-down approach with success, but Alberdi hit him with a straight right and left-right hook combination. To start the third round, Alberdi boxed Salvi into the corner, which he said played into his strategy.

“That’s exactly what I wanted to do,” Alberdi said. “Get him in the corner, so he couldn’t throw his power punches.”

Salvi continued using his reach to land effective jabs, but he held back with his right hand. Alberdi let his hands fly for two series of left-right hooks. Salvi countered with a jab and powerful right hook, but it was too late for him to steal the win. Alberdi won by unanimous decision.

194-pound: Bobby “Softie” Manfreda def. Ricky “Scooter” Neville
The first round opened with a series of cautious one-two exchanges, but senior Bobby Manfreda landed a left hook that broke up the tentative exchange and opened up the fight. As the punches became stronger and more frequent, Manfreda and junior Ricky Neville both threw a series of hooks.

Both boxers let their hands fly more in the second round and used effective jab-right-hook combinations. Neville turned to a quick one-two-three strategy, darting in for the jab-right-jab or jab-right-hook, then dashing out. Manfreda held him at bay with one-two combinations of his own. Manfreda nailed a straight right that knocked Neville off balance while both were inside for a series of combinations. Manfreda showed considerable endurance in the later rounds, which he said gave him an advantage.

“I felt throughout the fight stamina-wise, I was able to keep moving, keep punching, which helped me in the later rounds,” Manfreda said.

Manfreda waited for opportunities to throw well-timed combinations in the third round and this strategy sealed his victory by unanimous decision.

Manfreda was especially excited about the win because his father won when he competed in Bengal Bouts in 1982.

“There’s a little bit of family bragging rights,” Manfreda said. “I kind of had to win.”

205-pound: Brian “Long Arms of the Law” Ellixson def. Brian “Caesar” Salat
Law student Brian Ellixson was hard-charging with his one-two, but senior Brian Salat was cautious and used good footwork to avoid taking too many shots. Salat tried to work inside with powerful body shots and a straight right, but he dropped his right hand, which allowed Ellixson inside for a jab-right-jab combination.

“I’ve been aggressive throughout this tournament,” Ellixson said. “I’d rather be dictating the fight than let the fight come to me. He’s a great technical boxer and it was a great fight.”

Both boxers opened the second round with aggressive inside work. Salat used his jab and straight right, while Ellixson employed hooks. Salat was effective with well-timed single jabs and kept Ellixson at bay as long as he kept his hands up.

In the third round, Salat made use of body shots in an effort to keep Ellixson off balance. Visibly tired, both boxers powered through the round.

“It’s two minutes and the year’s over,” Ellixson said. “You think of all the hard work. It’s a lot easier when you put that in perspective, just to push for those last minutes.”

Ellixson came back with a right hook to Salat’s face and one to the side of the head. Both boxers swung away to close out the round. Ellixson landed several hooks and Salat made use of his straight right, but it was Ellixson who won by unanimous decision.

Heavyweight: Dan Yi def. Mike Broghammer
In the opening moments of the first round, senior Mike Broghammer used his height to punch the shorter junior Dan Yi over the top of Yi’s blocks. Yi responded with a well-timed one-two combination and used his quick footwork to move away.

“He’s really, really tall,” Yi said. “[My strategy] was to wait for him to reach in, if he does, keep my distance and wait for my opportunity to attack. And that’s what happened.”

When Broghammer came inside again, Yi delivered a jab-right combination and series of body shots. Broghammer and Yi worked around the ring for a few seconds before Yi slammed Broghammer with a clean, powerful one-two combination that sent him sprawling to the mat.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation like that before,” Yi said. “It happened super quick. I leaned back and saw him coming in. I threw the right hand, I think, and he was down and not getting up.”

Yi won by referee stopped contest 17 seconds into the first round.

Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu

Casey Karnes and Kit Loughran contributed to this report.