Ted Luzzi, our friend and Double Punches contributor, wrote an article about our most recent epic event:
2014 Regional Junior Olympic Championships
It’s two o’clock on May 17, 2014. It’s finally time for the 2014 Regional Junior Olympics, where the best of northern and central California are coming together to battle it out and see who advances to represent California at the U.S. nationals in West Virginia. The anticipation has been building for weeks since Richard and Maria Lopez announced that Double Punches actually won the right to stage this event—and event where Olympic dreams begin. The arena is packed with fans, waiting with bated breath for the first match, ready to blow the roof off the Santa Rosa Salvation Army’s arena as they root for their heroes. The action will explode live in front of the crowd.
While this is a boxing event, it is also a fundraiser. The funds raised will provide for extra ways for Double Punches boxing club to help local youth. The program provides ways of helping young people master themselves and their problems. For local boxing fans, especially those interested in reclaiming Santa Rosa youth from gangs, crime and drugs, this is an epic event.
It really says something about a young person’s character that they will train and study hard to be ready for events like this. They can see in themselves the potential to become a stronger, more confident person. They can use the Double Punches Program to empower their dreams. Win or lose in the boxing ring, these competitors are winning in the significantly larger, more important arena of life.
Ring announcer Rafael Rivera classily introduces the officials and makes the customary announcements. Double Punches singer Tom McIntyre shows his support and belief in his club by agreeing to sing the national anthem. As Tom’s voice soars over the crowd, people take off their hats and place their hands over their hearts. The anthem ends and there’s a moment of silence. Then the tension builds once more when the day’s fighters, dressed in their colorful trunks, are spotted. The crowd’s energy increases; you can almost feel the tightening neck chords and the belly butterflies flutter as the crowd gives off a roar at the opening bell!
Dominic Sierra, 10 (unattached) vs. Juan Guzman, 11 (Caballero BC)
In this intense first match, Guzman came out swinging. Despite his young age, he throws 5 and 6 punch combinations like a professional. Punching in combinations is one of the hardest skills to learn, but Guzman appears to be a natural at it. Sierra tried to counter punch with straight punches. He was very determined but Guzman’s blistering and relentless attack is too much to handle. Guzman wins the first two rounds, but somehow Sierra refuses to concede defeat, and the boys have furious exchanges as neither will give ground. The crowd roars its approval at the sensational ending. Guzman gets a deserved decision win. My friend Scott, whom I attended the fight with, looked at me wide eyes and said, “Wow! That was exciting.”
Luis Espinoza, 22 (Danny Rizo BC) vs. Danny Carnero, 19 (Mateen BC)
Espinoza starts well, demonstrating excellent boxing skills. Carnero could not cope with crafty Espinoza’s style and counter punching in round one. During round two Carnero’s coach kept yelling to “throw the right hand over the jab!” Halfway through the second round Carnero began turning from Espinoza’s jabs and crossing rights over them. Big right hands by Carnero crashed home, stunning and hurting Espinoza. I gave Carnero Round two. Round 3 was a war: Espinoza’s boxing skills versus Carnero’s rights over the jab. Carnero landed and bloodied Espinoza’s mouth, and let loose a devastating barrage of right hands, knocking Espinoza and forcing the referee to give him a standing eight count. Many on the crowd were surprised when Espinoza got the decision. It was the surprise of the night and the crowd visibly disagreed.
Jonathan Rubio, 14, (Double Punches) vs. Javier Gradilla, 14, (Modesto PAL (CCA))
Local Santa Rosa fans of Rubio held up homemade signs and screamed and cheered for him. Jonathan Rubio did not disappoint, as he put on a dazzling display. The arena was rocked by the cheers of the fans. Nimble footed with classy, fast handed combinations, Rubio seemed to score at will and won going away over an ever determined but out-gunned Gradilla. Gradilla took a standing 8 count in round three. With this win, Rubio is champion of both North and South California in his age/weight class.
Andre Conway, 14 (South SF BC (NorCal)) vs. Marc Castro, 14 (Fresno BC (CCA))
This was another regional championship fight with little to choose between them. Both boxed with a high level of skill and it was like a nip and tuck chess match. Castro and Conway both closed fast, and Conway won a very close decision.
Luis Gonzalez, 15 (A&B Boxing) vs. Ransis Dayways, 16 (Caballero BC)
Dayways had a very short reach and had to get inside. Gonzalez countered as Dayways charged in. The result was all action for three rounds. Gonzalez gamely mixed with Dayways who slammed away inside Gonzalez. Excellently timed counter punches gave Gonzalez the decision in an all out action fight.
Jose Gomez, 15 (South SF BC (NorCal)) vs. Derek Ochoa, 15 (Fresno PAL (CCA))
Despite Jose Gomez’ solid hard hitting build, Ochoa fought fast and aggressively. Both swapped punches evenly, then Gomez began to tire and Ochoa kept the pace better, receiving the judges’ decision.
Jose Ontiveros, 14 (Double Punches) vs. Alfonso Vasquez, 15 (Modesto PAL)
The contrast in size between the two was a little startling. Vasquez looked two weight divisions larger than Ontiveros. Vasquez pressed his foe hard. Bigger and stronger, he was winning the exchanges and the fight. The Double Punches rooting crowd was being taken out of the fight as Vasquez just seemed to be too much for Ontiveros. Then in round two Vasquez, squared up near the ropes, was hit squarely by Ontiveros, who swung a right that shot through Vasquez’ guard, causing him to hit the canvas. He was out! The crowd gasped in alarm and shock. People ran to help Vasquez but he was finally able to dazedly wobble up a couple minutes later. The fight was over! A one punch knockout for Jose Ontiveros! What a punch. Earlier in the week I was talking to Double Punches trainer Jovanni Rubio, who told me how he taught his fighters to put everything, “eyes-head-legs-thumb-everything” into their punches, like Bruce Lee used to teach in karate. It was intended to increase their punching power. During the event intermission I went up to Jovanni and said, “That was the punching method you were teaching, wasn’t it, that Ontiveros used on that knockout right hand.” Jovanni just raised his eyebrows, gave a little smile and said, “Let’s just say I taught him everything he knows.” Congratulations to Jose Ontiveros on an epic debut!
Diego Castillo, 15 (unattached) vs. Evan Sanchez, 16 (Fresno PAL (CCA))
Castillo took immediate control and never lost it; his hands were faster and he got off first with crisp combinations. Sanchez was fit and kept trying to be competitive but always just one step behind. Castillo took the win.
Charlie Sheehy, 15 (South SF BC (NorCal)) vs. Samuel Salas, 15 (E Stockton BC (CCA))
Sheehy showed good style, setting up Salas for combinations on the outside and using his advantages in height and reach to rock Salas several times. Salas, urged on by his coach, kept trying to charge in and land with both hands flying. However, Sheehy was too good for that to work and Salas never jabbed his way in, only charged and fired away unsuccessfully, getting tagged with a succession of punches in the process. Salas could be much better if he learned to work his way in instead. Sheehy was the winner of this fight by decision.
Noel Temores, 15 (Unattached (NorCal)) vs. Carlos Garcia, 15 (Fresno PAL (CCA))
Temores throws a great left hook to the body—it’s a fierce punch and Temores puts his whole body behind it. Temores has a superior technique, throws punches in the right way and is very fast-handed. However, he played into Garcia’s style by being too aggressive, while Garcia’s shorter arms kept landing short, fast counter punches as Temores went at him. Although Temores’ punches have much more effect, it’s an amateur fight and Garcia’s little inside combos caught the eyes of the official judges enough to give him a decision win. Temores has mastered the techniques of boxing very well, but he fought with too much abandon and it cost him a very close fight.
Brian Jimenez, 16 (Warriors 4JC), vs. Eden Lynik, 16 (Gladiators)
This one was very close, with both fighters showing good form. Jimenez appeared to have the edge until a big overhand right hand by Lynik knocked him down. Jimenez took another standing eight-count near the end of round two, and it seemed the referee might call it a night and a win for Eden Lynik. But no! The referee decided not to stop the fight! Round three was intense with both fighters demonstrating their warrior nature. Lynik ended up getting the decision.
Doris Picazo, 21 (Double Punches) vs. Liana Racine, 27 (Gladiators)
This was the only female fight of the night. Picazo is the type of boxer fans celebrate. From Double Punches Gym, she seemed to be the most popular fighter on the card. With her charisma inside the ropes she deserves the spotlight and certainly drew many fans to the arena to watch her perform. People were chanting her name when she was introduced, but there were also some worried faces in the crowd. Liana Racine bounced up and down in the other corner as Picazo “La Leona (The Lion)” stomped around the ring waiting for the bell. As they came out Racine looked to be about six inches taller and very fast. Doris leaned back and tried to counter Racine as she came in on attack. Racine would throw 4 or 5 fast punches, then got away before Picazo could counter punch, though once in a while Racine didn’t retreat fast enough and Picazo’s punches caught her, hard and hurting. In amateur boxing the amount of punches rather than the power count more. When Picazo attempted to cut down the range she was not jabbing her way in, which let Racine just step to the side and keep up her in-and-out technique.
Midway in round two, Doris began jabbing and attacking Racine. Suddenly it’s a different fight—when hit by a jab first, Racine backs up and Picazo’s punches catch her. Everyone in my section is on their feet yelling “Jab Doris JAB!” Picazo seemed capable of turning the fight her way. Near the end of round two for some reason Doris stopped jabbing, and again it’s Liana Racine’s fight. In round three Doris was looking to catch Racine as she came in but few jabs ended up emerging from Picazo so it was Racine’s round; and her fight by decision. Later after the show as fans file out many are saying Doris will get her next time. “La Leona” lost the fight but not her fans.
Oscar Tapia, 21 (Danny Rizo BC), vs. Mario Tirado, 27 (DF BC)
It was a brawl. First one then the other got pounded by blistering two-handed assaults to head and body. They just tried to outslug each other, matching each other toe-to-toe, punch-for-punch. Suddenly Oscar Tapia landed a savage combination. Tirado’s legs buckled and he was forced to take a standing eight count. The referee started to wave the fighters back together but Tirado was glassy eyed and out on his feet so the referee called it off instead—a KO win for Oscar Tapia.
Juan Garcia, 22 (A&B Boxing), vs. Jesse Martinez, 23 (Unattached)
In a fitting climax to tonight’s fight card, both fighters opened up with an all out offense. They exchanged power shots over and over as the crowd roared every minute. Neither would give ground; they just grit their teeth and winged punches. The fight was very intense and the last round found both fighters in close, whaling away. They received a standing ovation from the crowd, and the decision win went to Martinez.
With the day’s excitement at an end, people poured out of the arena, exhilarated by the fights and refreshed in spirit. Watching boxing is a normal experience, but seeing Santa Rosa youth and those who help them is just a little bit special. The last fight ended to tumultuous applause. Thanks to all the Double Punches and Salvation Army staff, who’s hard work paid off:
Richard & Maria Lopez
Juan Reyes and the Youth Group
Major C. Joe Murray
Special Thanks to
Dr. Stephen Spreiter, Ringside Physician
Rafael Rivero, Ring Announcer
Tom McIntyre, Double Punches
U.S.A. Boxing Officials
And all the volunteers!
Written by Ted Luzzi
Edited by Andrea Cebreros