84th Bengal Bouts crowns champs
Andy “Fisticuffs” Fausone def. Daniel “Jet” Lee
The 84th edition of the Bengal Bouts Finals started off with a fight defined by speed from both boxers, with the junior Fausone coming out on top by unanimous decision over the sophomore Lee. Fausone started the bout with quick blows to Lee’s head and body, but Lee regained momentum with several jabs of his own. Fausone was able to put a halt to the offensive attack with a strong right hook to Lee’s head and continued his strong start into the second round, forcing Lee to fight defensively. Lee attempted to turn the fight around with quick jabs, but Fausone’s speed overcame Lee’s rally as he countered with a flurry of combinations to Lee’s body and head. Fausone forced Lee into the ropes and finished the second round with a left jab to Lee’s temple.
In the third round, Fausone, a resident of Keenan Hall, was able to slow the pace and was more patient with his offense. Lee tried to take advantage with a series of combinations, but Fausone countered with several combinations of hooks and jabs to end the bout.
“I think I tried to play it a little more defensive at the beginning of the third,” Fausone said. “He knew he needed the points, so he was trying to push it, and I think I fight best when I’m the one being the aggressor, so I just brought it right back.”
Fausone was able to use his speed to get him to the finals, and he used that speed to come away with the title.
“Most of the guys I fight have been taller than me, bigger than me — at least in practice” Fausone said. “I find that speed is the easiest way to compensate for lack of height and size.”
Niels Seim def. Alex Bogucki-Baran
The bout started slow but heated up quickly, as the senior captain Seim came away with his first championship after a referee-stopped contest. In the first round, both fighters started slow and sized each other up in the opening seconds. Seim initiated the first contact, staying low to the ground while landing hooks to Bogucki-Baran’s body. The junior Bogucki-Baran retaliated with occasional hooks and right jabs, but he seemed to focus his energy on defense. Seim picked up the intensity in the second round, throwing a barrage of hooks and jabs at Bogucki-Baran’s body, forcing him towards the corners. The bout was paused after one of the graduate student’s powerful right jabs bloodied Bogucki-Baran’s nose. When the fight resumed, Bogucki-Baran rallied to finish the second round with a strong left hook to Seim’s head. In the third round, Bogucki-Baran went on the offensive and tried to knock Seim off balance, but Seim did not let up as his strong combinations of uppercuts and jabs forced the referee to stop the bout.
Despite the outcome, Seim recognized Bogucki-Baran’s preperation and hard work.
“He did a great job preparing for the fight,” Seim said. “He knew my strongest punch was my right hook, or at least my favorite punch.”
For Seim, the win meant a lot since the last two times he appeared in the finals, he walked away without a championship.
“Two years ago I lost [in the finals],” Seim said. “[This is] something I’ve worked for a long time. Part of me when I was looking to come to Notre Dame, I was looking at the Bengal Bouts program and I wanted to be a champ for that. I came so close twice, now finally to get it my last year, it’s incredible. Being a senior captain, it all came together, and it’s pretty incredible.”
Chris Tricarico def. Garrett “Fedex” Schmelling
In one of the most evenly matched bouts of the afternoon, the 146-pound weight division final came down to a split decision, with the junior Tricarico taking the win over the freshman Schmelling. From the bell, Tricarico unleashed an onslaught of jabs and hooks that connected with Schmelling’s head. The freshman from Fisher tried to put a stop to the onslaught with his own combinations of uppercuts and jabs, but Tricarico continued to hammer away and powered through the first round.
In the second round, Schmelling found his rhythm, landing hooks to Tricarico’s body through holes in his defense. Tricarico tried to respond to Schmelling’s offense with combinations of his own, but the freshman evaded nearly all of the punches and continued to efficiently land blows to Tricarico’s body and head. In the final round, Schmelling’s comeback stalled, and Tricarico put Schmelling away with several powerful combinations and won the championship.
Although Tricarico won the bout, he was very impressed with how well Schmelling, a novice, fought.
“I was incredibly impressed with him,” Tricarico said. “I’ve been doing this a whole year longer than him. He’s a novice [and] he had no training before. I think it was my experience kicking in [at the end of the fight].”
Ben “Danger Zone” Eichler def. “Sloppy” Joe Guilfoile
This thrilling bout featured a senior captain and defending champion in Eichler going up against a freshman in Guilfoile. The two were even throughout the first round trading jabs and hooks. Both fighters spent the first round fighting well defensively. In the second round, Eichler was able to separate himself from the freshman by landing a seismic right jab to Guilfoile’s head, which led to a barrage of combinations that bloodied Guilfoile’s nose. Guilfoile ended the round on a strong note, however, landing strong hooks to Eichler’s head. In the final round, Guilfoile did everything he could to make up ground, pushing Eichler into the ropes and corners with a multitude of combinations and lunging into Eichler’s body, breaking through his opponent’s parries. The comeback fell short though, as Eichler came away with the split-decision win. The senior credited his experience for the victory but was quick to compliment his opponent.
“Tremendous amount of respect for Joe,” Eichler said. “He’s just a freshman, and he fought for 3 rounds against a senior captain.”
Garrity “Biscuit” McOsker def. Joel “The Supple Leopard” Hlavaty
The championship bout kicked off with McOsker landing an immediate strong left hook to Hlavaty as soon as the first bell rang. The senior continued to show off his power by pushing his offensive attack throughout the first round. Hlavaty was forced to fight defensively, doing everything he could to slow down McOsker. In the second round, McOsker picked up where he left off by launching a series of combinations towards Hlavaty’s body and head while forcing him to defend from the ropes and corners. Near the end of the second round, Hlavaty came to life, connecting with a strong right hook to the side McOsker’s head. In the final round, McOsker struck again with multiple combinations of hooks and jabs and forced Hlavaty to fight defensively. Hlavaty made a late push at the end of the round, but it proved to be too late as McOsker walked away with the title, his second after winning the 155-pound division last year.
McOsker attributed his championship victory to the way he was able to establish himself from the start.
“My plan was to come out, establish my jab,” McOsker said. “I know he’s a good strong fighter and I just didn’t want to get hit. So first round I wanted to establish a good hard jab, keep myself from getting hit, and later on in the fight it got a lot more exchanges thrown by both sides. What helped me out was getting that done at the start of the fight.”
Jason “Downtown” Ellinwood def. Michael “Greasy” Grasso
The 166-pound bout featured two sophomores who fought blow-for-blow throughout the entire fight. In the first round, Ellinwood overpowered Grasso with straight right jabs to push him off balance, but Grasso retaliated with combinations of his own to end the first round, overcoming Ellinwood’s distinct height advantage. In the second round, Ellinwood took control of the fight again with strong right jabs to the side of Grasso’s head. When Grasso went on the offensive, Ellinwood’s defense withstood the assault, and he delivered occasional counter jabs and hooks. The match once again turned towards Grasso’s favor as he finished the second round with powerful hooks and jabs towards Ellinwood’s exposed body. In the third and final round, Grasso made a valiant effort to push Ellinwood to his limits, connecting on powerful right jabs and hooks. Ellinwood countered with strong jabs of his own to end Grasso’s series of uppercuts and hooks. When the final bell rang, Ellinwood was announced victorious in a split decision.
“I was able to show up [today],” Ellinwood said. “[I] never really showed up before to take hits. And you know I had to do that towards the ends of the last two rounds, but I had to just show up and let him hit me. I thought that was the decisive factor, instead of trying to body him up and fight him close in.”
Zack “Bedrock” Flint def. Patrick “Patty Cakes” Shea
In a battle between veteran sophomores, Flint emerged victorious in a narrow split-decision over Shea. Both boxers were tentative early, as Flint bobbed and weaved along the outside while Shea stayed in the center of the ring, landing the occasional jab. Neither fighter gained a clear edge in the first round, but Flint came out much more aggressively in the second, swinging freely as he continued to dance around the outside of the ring. Shea stayed centered and mostly on the defensive as the round continued but managed to land several blows to Flint’s body. Flint said he tried to wear Shea down by forcing him to control the fight while he waited for his chance.
“Pat’s a fantastic striker and he’s precise, so I knew dominating the ring was going to be a priority for him,” Flint said. “I let him dictate the fight a little bit. I let him throw some shots from the center and I kind of came at him with heavier blows and it wore him down.”
In the final period, Flint landed multiple hooks to Shea’s face early but opened himself on defense to counterattacks from Shea, who found holes and tried to exploit them with quick jabs to the body. In the end, Flint’s bigger hits gave him the advantage as he walked away with the close victory over his opponent, teammate and friend.
“We’re really good friends so the victory was a little hollow,” Flint said. “But at the same time, coming out and fighting one of my boys, [you] can’t ask for anything better than that.”
Brett “Italian Ice” Sassetti def. James “Iceman” Hodgens
The senior captain Sassetti faced a stiff challenge from the senior Hodgens but overwhelmed his fellow veteran with hard jabs and combinations to take the victory by unanimous decision. Last year’s champion in the 176-pound division stayed low early in the first round, while Hodgens attacked mostly with hooks as the two fighters danced around the ring. Sassetti became more aggressive as Hodgens’s punches began to find their mark and the two boxers began to trade punch for punch.
“[My strategy] kind of went out the window,” Sassetti said. “I was going to stick and move, but we started trading more once it started going.”
Sassetti ended the round by landing a vicious 1-2 combination and carried that momentum into the second, as both fighters continued to flail away. Midway through the round, Sassetti used a jab and hook combination to the face to knock Hodgens to the canvas.
“My coach told me to go the right [because] it was open, so I did, and it kind of stunned him,” Sassetti said. “I kept going with the [1-2 combinations] and he fell over.”
After the timeout, Sassetti did not relent in his attack, pounding Hodgens with jabs to the face for the rest of the round. Hodgens tried to rally in the third and was able to land several quick jabs to Sassetti’s face, but Sassetti managed to stay low even as he tired, and he connected on a sharp jab that bloodied Hodgens’ nose. Hodgens was unable to rally and Sassetti took the bout by unanimous decision.
Evan “Heavy Duty” Escobedo def. Ricky “Scooter” Neville
In an all-Fisher Hall final that came down to the wire, the junior Escobedo edged out the senior Neville by split decision. Escobedo came out in the first round targeting Neville’s head with straight rights, but was thwarted by Neville’s strong defense. For the most part, Neville spent the round on defense, out of Escobedo’s reach, occasionally counterattacking with strong combinations when Escobedo opened up on the inside. In the second, Neville was more aggressive, blocking Esocbedo’s jabs and countering with his own to bloody Escobedo’s nose. Escobedo responded by pushing Neville against the ropes and landing several big hooks to Neville’s body and head. Escobedo gave Neville credit for his turnaround.
“Ricky’s a great fighter,” Escobedo said. “He’s taught me a lot of what I’ve known. It’s been great working with him … I just tried to react as best as I could.”
The third round started with a quick exchange of straights to the head, as both boxers connected again and again. Escobedo landed a big hook to Neville’s head midway through the round and continued to attack, as both fighters began showing signs of exhaustion and clenched several times.
“My strategy was just to keep the pressure on, 100 miles per hour the whole time,” Escobedo said. “This is my last fight until next February, so I gave it all I had.”
Escobedo’s rally proved to be enough, as he took the victory by split decision.
Brian “Long Arms of the Law” Ellixson def. Tyler “One Shot” Sonsalla
The bout between Ellixson, a law student, and the senior Sonsallas started fast and didn’t slow down, as Ellixson chased Sonsalla around the ring and pushed him against the ropes and into the corner. He connected on several hard hook combinations to the body as he controlled the pace of the fight. Sonsalla tried to slow the fight by clenching midway through the round but was unable to rally or connect on most of his own punches. Ellixson came out more patient in the second, as he continued to control the fight and exploit Sonsalla’s weaknesses. Four times he cornered Sonsalla and unleashed brutal hooks to the body as Sonsalla’s defenses weakened. Early in the third, Ellixson landed a hard straight to the head that sent Sonsalla stumbling into the ropes. From there, Sonsalla’s defense collapsed and Ellixson pushed him against the ropes at will. The law student took the victory by unanimous decision.
Daniel Yi def. Erich “Liar” Jegier
In a much-anticipated fight of the finals, three-time champion Yi made it four with another dominating victory over the freshman Jegier. Yi, captain and president of the Men’s Boxing Club, stayed back on defense early, but came on strong later in the round, exploding with hard combinations of hooks and jabs that excited the mostly quiet, waiting crowd. Just before the bell, Yi put an emphatic end to the round by landing a hard jab to the face that bloodied Jegier’s nose. In the second round, Jegier tried to go on the offensive, but Yi stayed sharp defensively and countered with a brutal combination that ended with a hook to the side of the head that sent Jegier to the canvas and caused the referee to stop the contest. Both fighters reside in Sorin Hall, and Yi said he had mixed feelings about fighting one of his fellow Otters.
“That was a very interesting experience,” Yi said. “I’m a resident assistant in Sorin and at the beginning of the year, I took a bunch of kids to the Rock one morning to show them the basics of boxing. Jeiger was actually one of the kids, and so I was a little conflicted. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to face him in the ring, but there was obviously a little conflict.”
Yi is just the 12th boxer in club history to win four championships and was honored at the end of the night as Boxer of the Year.