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Heavyweights to debut in semis

| Monday, February 24, 2014

The 84th annual Bengal Bouts started Feb. 17, but for four fighters, all this meant was another week to train, watch their friends and nervously wait for their turn in the ring. Tonight, that wait will come to an end for the heavyweight division.

Only four boxers — sophomore Matt Boomer, freshman Erich Jegier, first-year law student Brian Israel and senior captain and defending champion Daniel Yi — are competing in the division, eliminating the need for a preliminary or quarterfinal round. Two other boxers started out the season with the heavyweights but were forced to pull out after injury.

Senior captain Daniel Yi (left) lands a jab to Mike Broghammer's head in the 2013 Bengal Bouts heavyweight final March 1, which Yi won by knock out.Observer File Photo

Senior captain Daniel Yi (left) lands a jab to Mike Broghammer’s head in the 2013 Bengal Bouts heavyweight final March 1, which Yi won by knockout. Yi will fight in a heavyweight semifinal bout Tuesday.

As the other weight classes have narrowed down the field to the final four, the heavyweights have continued to train and prepare.

“I’ve been training hard and trying to keep up the intensity,” Boomer said. “The other guys have been tapering off now that they’re fighting. I’ve just tried to use the extra time to become a better athlete because that’s ultimately what it comes down to.”

The wait, though, has ratcheted up the nerves for some fighters.

“There is definitely a certain anxiousness [in waiting],” Boomer said. “You want to get out there. You see your friends out there, and you want to be in the ring, too. At the same time, I’m not disappointed that I’m in the semifinals already. It just brings you that much closer to the title.”

Even though they were not fighting, most of the heavyweights still attended both the preliminary and quarterfinal rounds to cheer on their friends and training partners.

“I’ve gone to both nights,” Boomer said. “I wasn’t able to stay for all the fights each night, but I was able to see some friends and support them.”

Because of the small size of their division, all of the heavyweights have sparred against other weight classes, especially the 202-pound division, in the closest thing the fighters can come to experiencing a normal bout.

“I actually haven’t sparred against any of the other guys in my bracket,” Boomer said. “All of the guys I have fought against are in the weight class below me or had to drop out due to injury.”

This has not stopped the boxers from sparring. Daniel Yi said he has sparred more this year than any other year in the program and that the freshmen are getting more time in the ring than he used to.

Despite the small size of the remaining field, Boomer said he is not overly familiar with his competition, especially the novice fighters.

“I know Dan Yi well because of the past two years [that I’ve been in the program],” Boomer said. “I’ve met both of the other guys, and I know who I’m fighting, but we don’t know each other particularly well.”

Yi is the heavy favorite to win the bracket after a dominating victory over former varsity basketball player Mike Broghammer last spring for his third championship. Yi dispatched Broghammer in just 17 seconds, sending him to the canvas and causing the referee to stop the bout. He will face Israel in the first semifinal, while Boomer and Jegier will square off in the second.

The semifinal round of the 84th edition of the Bengal Bouts takes place tonight in the Joyce Center fieldhouse, starting at 7 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh.

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About Greg Hadley

Greg Hadley is a senior from Rockville, Maryland, majoring in political science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He served as The Observer's Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 term and currently covers Notre Dame baseball and women's basketball.

Contact Greg