The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Champions Crowned

Chris Allen and Allan Joseph | Monday, March 1, 2010

124 pounds

Jack “Rico Suave” Lally def. Steven “505” Rivera
The freshman Lally came out with energy in his Bengal Bouts debut and the only fight in the 124-pound weight division, crushing the senior Rivera en route to a victory by technical knockout.
“I was able to land some good combinations and just back him off,” Lally said. “I thought I was successful at landing some solid punches.”
Lally’s speed was too much for Rivera and from the opening bell he took control. Early on in the first round the action was stopped twice to protect Rivera after furious combos from Lally to the upper body and face of the senior. After the second stoppage, Lally hit Rivera with a left hook that sent him through the ropes and nearly into the crowd, bringing the fight to an early end in the first round.

133 pounds

Chris “Cougar” Cugliari def. Michael “The Silver City Slugger” Sayles
The two senior captains battled for three rounds, with Cugliari besting Sayles in a unanimous decision.
“I was pleased that I believe the two of us left it all in the ring,” Sayles said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter so much winning or losing as it does going in the ring and doing everything you can and leaving it all out there.”
In the first round, Cugliari’s evident advantage in strength seemed to wear down the defenses of the smaller and speedier Sayles. His strong jabs kept Sayles backpedaling as the senior stayed on the offensive for most of the round. Toward the end of the round, a nice combination by Sayles seemed to shift momentum as he got inside Cugliari’s jab and worked the body of his fellow captain.
Sayles carried a bit of that momentum into the second round when his combos started to hit more frequently. Before the end of the round though, Cugliari hopped back on the offensive, working Sayles into the corner and finishing the round with huge and punishing combos.
In the third round the two fighters emptied their tanks. Cugliari’s powerful blows seemed to take a toll on the smaller Sayles, whose defense weakened as he tired later in the fight. As the round came to a close, the two fighters wrapped each other up constantly, a sign of the obvious physical toll the fight took on them. In the end, Cugliari’s consistent and punishing attack scored him the unanimous decision.
“I feel like a million bucks right now,” Cugliari said. “After four years working for this, this is a dream come true.”

140 pounds

Albert Toscano def. Michael Johnston
This battle of entertaining fighters went the distance, with the sophomore Toscano scoring a unanimous decision over the senior Johnston. The fight was a battle of contrasting styles with the shorter and broader Toscano using his strong base to punish the taller Johnston. The fighters traded blows for the opening portion of the first round as the pace eventually settled down. Toscano’s strong arsenal of punches put Johnston on the defensive, and he punished the senior on the ropes with his uppercut.
Toscano went to the uppercut early and often in the second round, relying on a more careful, defensive style after his strong first round. After Johnston began to use his jab to work his way back into the fight, Toscano immediately reversed the momentum with a thunderous combo that put Johnston on the ropes to end the second round.
With Johnston needing a good round in the third, Toscano immediately put to rest any comeback Johnston had, putting together a strong round ending with a knockdown toward the end of the round. After Johnston fell to the mat at the bell, Toscano let loose with a display of emotion as the sophomore scored a unanimous victory on the strength of nearly flawless boxing.
“I have been training for eight or nine months and all of the hard work really paid off,” Toscano said.

147 pounds

Kieran Bulger def. Kevin “DiGiorno” Ortenzio
The defensive tilt between the senior Bulger and the sophomore Ortenzio resulted in Bulger scoring a split-decision victory over the sophomore.
“I had to take it slow,” Bulger said. “I figured that he is such a workhorse in practice that he would probably have good endurance.”
Early on in the fight both fighters chose to pick their spots and Bulger’s long reach helped him gain the upper hand, as the slow pace suited his careful style.
From the bell in the second round both fighters picked up the intensity as they threw more punches, with Bulger hitting more frequently as he blocked most of Ortenzio’s attacks. Ortenzio momentarily turned the tide with a big uppercut that allowed him to chase Bulger around the ring for the remainder of the round.
In the third round the physical nature of the fight took a toll on both fighters as they were both visibly fatigued. Bulger came out looking to hit as many big punches as he could, but a couple missed hooks opened up his usually excellent defense and Ortenzio landed some nice combinations on him. As the fighters continued to exchange big blows in the third, Bulger’s strong defense and long reach enabled him to preserve a close split decision victory.
“I wanted to keep my space and make my punches count,” Bulger said.

151 pounds

Tim “The Slayer” Thayer def. Bobby Powers
This highly-anticipated fight between the senior captain Thayer and talented junior Powers lived up to its billing and by the final bell the crowd offered a standing ovation to the pair as Thayer squeaked out a split-decision victory.
“It definitely lived up to all the hype,” Thayer said.
Powers tried to use a small height advantage by using his long reach to keep the powerful “Slayer” at bay. This strategy kept Thayer backpedaling, but when Powers left himself open to a punch the powerful senior walloped him with a big hook and forced the referee to check on Powers.
“Thayer is the best boxer I have ever fought against,” Powers said.
The second round saw the pair trade blows from bell to bell as both struggled to take control of the round. Each fighter got in a strong combination, but each rebounded to swing momentum back and forth multiple times. Thayer got the last blow right before the bell, a punch that snapped Powers’ head back and set the tone for the third round.
The third round was a struggle for both fighters as the first two rounds left the pair exhausted. By the latter part of the round, the entire Purcell Pavilion was on its feet for both Powers and Thayer as they struggled to even raise their arms and complete a punch. Ultimately Thayer was able to fight through the pain and complete a few punches that enabled him to win a close split-decision victory.

155 pounds

Ryan “Dayman” Slaney def. Adam “Mad” Cowden “Disease”
The senior Slaney and the sophomore Cowden, nearly mirror images of each other in terms of body size and height, fought an even fight highlighted by big punches as Slaney scored a split decision victory. Cowden used his long jab to keep Slaney on the run early and get an edge in the first round. The whole first round, Slaney kept to the ropes and seemed content to play a defensive game against the charging Cowden.
In the second round, things turned. Initially, Cowden’s reach seemed impossible to contend with but once Slaney got inside he punished his younger opponent with huge blows. A punishing hook from Slaney that sent Cowden’s mouthpiece flying several rows into the crowd highlighted the round. After fighting resumed, Slaney used the little time left before the bell to keep momentum going with strong punches.
In the third round, Cowden mounted a bit of a comeback, as the round resembled more of a brawl than a boxing match. Both fighters were punching with all they had, but Cowden took control of the fight halfway through the third and didn’t ease up from his onslaught. Ultimately, however, Slaney’s punishing run in the second round and early third proved enough to hand him the championship by split decision.
“After the fight I just wanted to know that I gave it my all, win or lose,” Slaney said.

160 pounds

John “My Body is a Wonderland” Maier def. Alex “Gatito Loco” Oloriz
The senior captain Maier defeated the upstart freshman Oloriz by unanimous decision in a capstone of his long career with the Bengal Bouts.
“As a freshman it’s an uphill battle to begin with,” Maier said. “I helped him through the whole process trying to get him here.”
Maier used his size advantage and boxing expertise to keep the shorter and stockier Oloriz at a distance and land several punches in the first round. Oloriz tried to generate leverage by using his uppercut to attack Maier, but the senior’s defense was strong.
Maier controlled the second round in similar fashion as he kept Oloriz from landing any strong shots to the head or body. Maier’s strong uppercut late in the round snapped Oloriz’s head back, and Maier followed it up with big punches to the bell.
Oloriz sensed the need for a big third round and opened with a furious combination, though at the tail end he left his hands open and the experienced Maier seized the opportunity, beating the freshman back with big punches. When the referee checked on Oloriz shortly before the bell, Maier let loose with a loud display of emotion, the result of four years of training culminating in the unanimous victory over Oloriz.
“I spent four years training,” Maier said. “Four years, and this where I wanted to be. It’s a great way to go out.”

163 pounds

Jordan Bucci def. Matt Hopke
The Bucci-Hopke fight may have been the most interesting stories of the night, because the two opponents are also close friends and housemates.
“We’ve been roommates since freshman year sharing a bunk,” Bucci said. “I don’t remember ever saying ‘good luck’ to a guy who’s about to hit you, so it was kind of weird in that respect.”
The fight began tentatively, with each fighter feeling out the other’s strategy. Bucci and Hopke each threw a few punches, but neither gained the upper hand in the first round. Hopke seemed to be more willing to throw punches, while Bucci was content to dodge his housemate’s punches. Near the end of the first round, the fighters showed a burst of energy and each pummeled the other’s body, but neither could gain an advantage.
The second round was more of the same. Each fighter would throw two or three punches and then disengage. They had a high energy level and were bouncing around the ring, but for the second consecutive round, neither could gain an advantage.
In the third round, the fighters seemed almost mirror each other; their familiarity was evident, as each could anticipate the other’s moves. Bucci used a burst of energy at the end to land a series of punches that may have broken the tie and given him the unanimous-decision victory.
Throughout the fight, it was evident how close the two were. As soon as the bell ended each round, the fighters would bump fists, and at the end, the two shared a long embrace. Bucci admitted that the two were less aggressive because they were so close.
“It was probably the longest and most boring fight for everybody watching, because neither guy wanted to hit the other,” he said.
In the end, however, Bucci hit Hopke a few more times, and emerged the champion.

166 pounds

Gregory Bennett def. Jason “Pretty Boy” Miller
Bennett defeated Miller in one of the tightest bouts of the night. Though the two tested each other at the first bell, the fight quickly turned energetic, with the sophomore Bennett attacking while Miller was able to dodge many punches and take advantage. Miller, a senior, began to attack late in the first round but could not build up significant momentum before the bell ended the first round. Bennett said the increased round length — two minutes per round — played into the pace of the fight.
“Usually I come out pretty aggressive from the start but because of the long rounds today I wanted to keep it steady,” Bennett said.
The second round was back-and-forth, with each fighter landing punches. The fighters sparred without either gaining a significant advantage, and this time Bennett was the one who played the role of late-round attacker. He could not gain momentum, and everyone in the Purcell Pavilion knew that the fight would be decided in the last round.
Before the start of the third round, Bennett motioned to a large contingent of supporters from Zahm, getting a loud response and an almost tangible energy boost. He fed off the energy, going on the offensive and landing more punches, including some very hard jabs to Miller’s head. Miller realized that he was falling behind and began frantically attacking. He landed more punches, but got overaggressive, allowing Bennett to evade and land more punches. The fight ended with a flurry of punches, but Bennett’s energetic third round gave him the victory by unanimous decision. He credited his supporters with giving him the late kick he needed.
“Jason’s a real tough fight, [but] Zahm is an unbelievable dorm and an unbelievable atmosphere,” he said. “My best friends live there and they didn’t let me down this entire tournament.”

173 pounds

Matthew “Cool and Tough” Paletta def. Alex Kissinger
Paletta and Kissinger met in one of the best fights of the night, an all-out slugfest that brought the crowd to its feet.
From the first bell, the fighters attacked each other. Both seniors were throwing and landing hard punches at an unbelievable pace. As the first round continued, Kissinger relied on his volume of punches, while Paletta preferred to block and throw fewer but harder punches.
The second round was just as energetic as the first one. The fight was stopped three times in the second round when Kissinger’s nose began bleeding. Each was throwing punches that bordered on wild, and connecting on many of them. At one point, Kissinger went low and landed a combination on his opponent’s body, ignoring the fact that Paletta was connecting on multiple punches to his head at the same time.
The third round was even more intense. Each fighter preferred to take and throw punches rather than attempt to dodge punches. The bout went back and forth, and though no one could predict the winner, the whole Purcell Pavilion rose to its feet in appreciation of the fight they had just witnessed. The two embraced and later exchanged numbers in the locker room, having bonded through their competition.
“That was the gnarliest fight I’ve ever been in, in three years by far,” Paletta said. “I’m sure he feels the same way; it was a hell of a fight.”
Paletta, though bruised and battered, took a moment to reflect on what his championship meant to him.
“It feels great, it’s a lot of time and a lot of sacrifices, getting out of bed when you don’t want to,” he said. “But [the win] makes it all worth it.”

180 pounds

Mike Doran def. Dominic “Warsaw War Hammer” Golab
Doran defeated Golab in a hard-hitting bout that went back and forth for the entire match and left the good friends exhausted. From the beginning of what Doran called a “friendly rivalry,” the two fighters went at it hard and with energy.
Doran, a junior, used his length to land punches early. However, he often got overaggressive and his fellow junior Golab was able to evade and return punches during the first round, keeping the fight even.
During the second round, Doran was able to dictate the pace of the fight using his footwork, but Golab preferred to take a few punches and then break out and land a combination of his own. Doran continued to use aggressive footwork even while taking punches from Golab, minimizing the effect of Golab’s combinations.
The third round began with Golab on the offensive, but Doran quickly regained control and refused to relinquish it for the rest of the bout. He seemed to have more energy than Golab and started throwing significantly more punches. Near the middle and end of the third round, Doran forced Golab into a mostly defensive mindset and laid on a late extended combination at the end of the fight that decided the fight in his favor by a split decision that, when announced, left Golab collapsing.
“It was a really close fight; it could have gone either way,” Doran said. “I just had a tiny bit more left in the tank in that round, but seriously a great fight, for sure my toughest so far.”
Both competitors were left reflecting on their Bengal Bouts experience and looking forward to next year.
“It’s sad to be done, with the guys and the atmosphere,” Doran said. “Some guys think boxing is an individual sport, but it’s a real brotherhood down here that’s amazing every year.”
Doran and Golab are both making the trip to Bangladesh over the summer to visit the Holy Cross missions that the Bouts benefit.

189 pounds

Bernardo “Blue” Garcia def. Timothy Wallace
When Wallace’s corner could not clean up his bloody nose fast enough, the referee stopped the fight and Garcia earned his second consecutive title.
The fight began with flurries of punches from both Garcia and Wallace. Though Garcia was the one coming at Wallace, Wallace would stand his ground and return the punches.
In the middle of the round, Wallace began to fight more aggressively and gained momentum before the bell rung, giving Garcia a respite to catch his breath.
The second round began with lots of energy, but Wallace controlled the tempo of the fight. The fight was stopped, however, when Wallace began bleeding for the first time. This did not stop him, however, as he came out of the stoppage with an aggressive mentality and attacked so hard that he knocked Garcia down and almost out of the ring.
The fight was stopped repeatedly for blood throughout the second round, which exacted a heavy toll on Wallace’s momentum. If he had been given a chance to build his momentum, he may have been very tough to beat, but the stop-and-start nature of the round favored Garcia.
In the third round, Wallace unleashed a high volume of punches, and though Garcia fought back, Wallace landed many of them. The match continued to be stopped for blood, and Garcia was declared the winner when the referee stopped the match for the final time with one minute and seven seconds remaining.
“His style matches up real tough against the style I try to fight,” Garcia said. “I got kind of lucky because he started bleeding in the second round and they just couldn’t get the blood to stop.”
Garcia now gets to savor his unlikely victory, but he is also relieved that the time-consuming Bouts process is coming to an end.
“I’m relieved, I really am, to be done,” he said. “It’s a lot of pressure and a lot to think about.”

205 pounds

John “Papi” Tchoula def. Pat “Tigers Love Pepper, They Hate Cinnamon” Burns
The fight began tentatively until the junior Tchoula initiated the furious boxing with a series of body blows. He would continue to play the role of aggressor, but the senior co-president Burns also landed quite a few punches on Tchoula early. The first round was even, with Tchoula landing a few more combinations but also missing on more punches.
The second round saw a display of athleticism, especially at the beginning. Tchoula moved with unbelievable quickness, but Burns utilized his agility to evade many of Tchoula’s bigger swings. Tchoula, however, often negated this by forcing Burns to the ropes and landing some hard punches when he cornered Burns. Burns refused to back down, even moving into more of an aggressive role and providing a spirited end to the second round.
The third round began with both fighters attempting to go for a knockout blow, and Tchoula came close when he moved Burns to the ropes and knocked him down. This seemed to really faze Burns, who from that point on could not throw nearly enough punches to counter the never-tiring Tchoula. Burns continued to fight his hardest, however, until the final bell, which saw the announcement of Tchoula as winner by unanimous decision.
“It was a great fight,” Tchoula said. “I had to go out there and box the best that I could against a guy like Pat Burns.”
Though he landed some vicious punches, Tchoula did not seem to relish it, explaining that he and Burns are very good friends and that he’s glad the season is over.
“I’m looking forward to next year,” he said. “But it’s time to take some rest.”


Will “at the Edge of Darkness” Burroughs def. Kevin “The Long Beach Lumberjack” Crepeau
Law student Burroughs and junior Crepeau provided a spirited end to the Bengal Bouts season in a match that saw Burroughs, one of the faces of the program, come away with yet another heavyweight championship in his last appearance and his third against Crepeau in the finals.
The match began with each fighter testing the other, as was the strategy, explained Burroughs.
“He [Crepeau] always had a strategy and he sticks to it and it’s effective,” Burroughs said.
Crepeau landed more punches early, though Burroughs landed harder ones. The junior was much more of an active fighter, moving around the ring and making Burroughs come to him. The first round was very even, with each fighter landing a combination in response to the other.
The second round saw much more energy from both fighters, especially Crepeau. He began gaining momentum and landed multiple consecutive combinations before Burroughs abruptly switched the nature of the bout by knocking Crepeau to his knees. Both fighters landed some hard punches, which pleased the crowd. The first two rounds were even, and if anything, Crepeau may have had the upper hand.
“He caught me with a couple good ones and he moved real well,” Burroughs said. “The first couple rounds I was just trying to find a counterpunch or find an opening.”
The third round, however, was dominated by Burroughs’ power. From the bell, he fought aggressively, ignoring punches he received in a singular focus on overpowering his opponent. He was able to accomplish that goal, at one point pushing Crepeau into the corner and knocking him down. Crepeau still threw flurries of punches, but it was not enough and Burroughs won by unanimous decision. The victory gave him an opportunity to reflect on his time with Bengal Bouts.
“It’s been sweet. The guys in this program are amazing,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they will do not only in boxing but after they leave Notre Dame. They are all amazing guys.”