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Bengal Bouts: Hopke rallies from behind to win southpaw battle

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Matt Hopke def. Nick Ponzio

Hopke tripped and hit the canvas almost immediately, but the lanky left-hander struck back, going on the attack and forcing Ponzio, also a lefty, to keep his distance a bit.

Hopke used his height advantage effectively, often following a soft right jab with a big left hook to win by split decision.

“I knew that since I was going against a shorter guy I’d need to keep him outside, because I knew he was going to work the body,” Hopke said. “I practiced for him against my roommate who’s 5-foot-6 and in my weight class, so I got a couple sessions in him with him and all he does is go to the body, so I was expecting the same thing from Nick.”

Dan Rodgers def. Jason Miller

Both Rodgers and Miller were aggressive in the first round. Each fighter threw, and landed, a significant amount of punches in the round.

The second round was similarly fast-paced, with each fighter taking turns being on the offensive and on the defensive.

One has to wonder how much of an effect all of the movement in the first round had on the fighters. In the third round, which was more sluggish than the first two, Rodgers seemed to take control and land more punches.

He won by unanimous decision and will move onto the finals.


Charlie Gough def. Bryan Grissinger

Gough showed prowess with both his left and right hands during an impressive victory by unanimous decision. Using a diversified repertoire complete with a series of jabs, hooks and uppercuts, he was able to keep Grissinger at bay.

“I like to switch it up, both left and right and high and low,” Gough said. “Not a lot of guys in the Bouts go to the body much, so I try to do that – not as well as I would have liked, but I thought it worked a little bit.”

Gough landed a few early uppercuts and hooks that looked like they’d do some damage, but Grissinger didn’t show any signs of stumbling back or growing tired in the first round.

Grissinger continued to attack, but Gough’s punches continued to overpower him in the second,preventing Grissinger from landing any significant combinations.

Joseph Meares def. Scott Whalen

In a matchup of fighters of differing sizes, Meares was able to overcome his lack of reach and power his way into the finals with a victory in a split decision. The key for Meares was being able to land his strong power hand.

“I was just trying to land my power because he is taller than I am,” he said.

Whalen attempted to use his reach advantage to keep Meares away, and it was noticed by Meares.

“He started to tag me with that jab a little bit,” Meares said.

The fight went back and forth, with each fighting their own style. However, in the end, Meares was able to slip inside those jabs just enough to pull land his big right hooks.


Ben O’Brien def. Mike Cimino

Cimino, ruled out because of a concussion, forfeited the match, allowing O’Brien to advance to the title bout by walkover.

Bernardo Garcia def. Matt Gimlett

Both Garcia and Gimlett had their turns on the offensive in their semifinal match. However, a late comeback of strong right hands gave Garcia the win in a unanimous decision.

“It was my right hand [that made the difference],” Garcia said. “He was dropping his guard every time he threw, so when he threw, so did I.”

Gimlett took the lead in after a very fast paced second round. He opened with numerous strong right hooks, never allowing Garcia to establish himself in the second. However, after regrouping, Garcia was able to come up with a game plan that would give him the edge, however simple it may have seemed.


Mike Lee def. Pat Jackson

Lee, a junior captain, showed why he is considered one of the field’s best, displaying an almost alarming out of quickness in a nearly flawless performance.

“Last year when I fought I got too aggressive and too wild and got my hands down,” said Lee, a reigning champ, “so this year I’m trying to focus on the fundamentals and really jab more, keep my hands up, so it’s just more accurate punches instead of wild punches.”

Lee was aggressive yet patient and quick but under control, using his vicious left hooks to send Jackson to the ropes, where Lee would relentlessly pummel his opponent’s body. Lee’s proficiency with both hands was simply too much for Jackson to counteract.

Andres Villalba def. Dominic Golab

The fight between Golab and Villalba opened with what was the most aggressive first round of the night. Both took turns throwing, and both were successful in landing their punches as well. Villalba, who occasionally switched to fighting left handed, was concerned with his technique, above all else.

“Practice all you want; once you get hit, everything changes,” said Villalba. “I just had to focus on myself and focus on my technique.”

Villalba was able to successfully dodge Golab’s punches throughout the match and took control in the second. Golab opened up the third round by landing successive right power hands, but time ran out on the freshman, who did not have enough left in the tank to match the junior captain. Villalba will face fellow junior captain Mike Lee in the finals.


Leo Rubinkowski def. John Tchoula

What a difference a minute can make.

As the final bell sounded and the fighters retreated to their respective corners, Rubinkowski was stomping his feet against the canvas, clearly frustrated at his inability to put away a fight he led handily well into the third round.

“I was frustrated at the end just because I was trying to get away from his two – he lifts that thing up and just blows right through you,” Rub said. “I knew it’d be an interesting fight.”

Rubinkowski, a much taller fighter, was able to force Tchoula to come after him and become over-aggressive in the first two rounds – causing Tchoula to over-expose himself and remain off-balance, of which Rubinkowski was able to take advantage.

The third was a different story, though, as Tchoula, who finished the second by backing Rubinkowski into the corner with both right and left hooks, sacrificed his body and mounted a heavy and successful attack.

The final round was stopped twice for Tchoula’s bloody face, but that was the only thing that slowed him down in the final minutes. The freshman was able to land consecutive haymakers that brought much of the crowd to its feet and left Rubinkowski stomping his own.

Still, though, Rubinkowski’s early advantage proved to be just enough.

Alex Lough def. Thomas Haan

In an abbreviated fight, Lough defeated Hann in a bout stopped in the first round. The referee halted the match after Lough landed a combination that sent Hann spinning into the ropes.

“I don’t really know [what I did to end the fight so quickly],” Lough said.

When asked about his strategy for a final match-up bith Leo Rubinkowski, Lough was straightforward.

“Don’t get hit,” Lough said with a laugh. “The guy I fought in the second round was tall, so hopefully that will translate.”


Andrew Lorenz def. Pat Ryan

Lorenz was able to land a couple of big hooks near the close of each of the first two rounds before taking the third to earn himself a split decision.

Lorenz landed one of the night’s biggest punches when Ryan, a senior captain, tried to grab a hold of him early in the third. Instead of waiting for the official to yell “Break!”, as most of the fighters appeared to do throughout the night, Lorenz attacked Ryan’s exposed self, landing an enormous uppercut right underneath Ryan’s chin.

That punch proved to be the difference, as neither of the two visibly exhausted fighters mounted any major attacks after that point.

“I was just reacting – anything I planned on doing I forgot about as soon as the fight started,” Lorenz said.

Pat Burns def. Tony Klausing

Burns prevailed in this battle of Keenan Hall sophomores.

Burns was named the winner in a split decision, a decision that was fitting for how close the match was. Burns displayed impressive agility for a fighter his size, something that he said made the difference

“He definitely hit me harder, but I definitely hit him more often,” Burns said.

The match was back and forth for all three rounds and was very physical. Both boxers fought very close to one another and landed a significant amount of punches, especially left and right body hooks. Strength was a key factor.

“I was pushing him around the ring, which probably gave me a couple of extra points on the scorecard,” Burns said.


Will Bourroughs def. George Speiss

In the night’s second-to-last fight, the fans finally got what they were waiting for: a true knockout punch.

Bourroughs, a law student boxing for the first time, threw a monster haymaker in the fight’s third round that knocked Speiss to the canvas, where he laid for several seconds before being helped up.

“I knew coming into it Jeff was an experienced and good boxer, and he had the reach,” Burroughs said. “In the first round, he really hit me hard, and I was just watching out for that right. Second round, I was able to land some pretty fortunate punches that gave me an advantage that he would kind of duck every once in awhile. Just listening to the guys in my corner…I happened to throw the right punch at the right time.”

Kevin Crepeau def. Pat McInerney

Those that stuck around for the final fight of the night were treated to one that had the look of a lighter weight class as opposed to a heavyweight bout.

“A lot of heavyweights have one big punch, but he is a great boxer,” Crepeau said of McInereney.

Both fighters showed impressive agility and movement throughout all three rounds. After an even first, Crepeau landed a number of punches to open the second and take the lead. However, McInereney opened the third with a big combination to start his comeback attempt. It would prove to be too little, though, as Crepeau answered enough to win in a split decision.