Teddy Draper of Clovis looks to land a punch in a 178-pound weight class fight fight during the 58th annual New Mexico State Golden Gloves boxing tournament on Friday at the Roy Walker Community Center. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
When his son Vladimir took an interest in boxing, Clovis’ Teddy Draper did what any dad would do — in a Disney movie. The elder Draper strapped on the gloves and participated in the training process with his son.
A few months ago, the thought returning to the ring enter the mind of the 31-year-old former Junior Olympics boxer.
So, at the start of the Golden Gloves competition Friday at Roy Walker Community Center, Draper stepped into the squared circle competitively for the first time in 17 years.
“For my first time, it was something different than training,” said Draper, who lost to Las Cruces’ Siju Shabazz when he retired near the end of the third round of an exhibition bout. “I fought in the JO’s (Junior Olympics) a long time ago when I was in high school. My son’s into it and my nephew’s into it. They were coming to practice and I told them I’d come with them every day.
“I lost about 20 pounds and Chuck Haas (local Golden Gloves organizer) said if you can make 178 (weight division), you should give it a shot,” Draper added. “So I did it.”
In Shabazz, Draper was literally facing a tall task as his Las Cruces opponent had several inches on him. The New Mexico State junior won a Golden Gloves state title last year and comes from an athletic family. One of his older brothers, Shukree, just finished playing football at New Mexico State and was invited to the recent NFL combine for prospective draft picks.
While Draper’s punches flicked off Shabazz without harm, Shabazz’ blows started having great effect. At the beginning of the second round, Draper started to bleed from his nose.
Vladimir Draper, 14, who will fight on Saturday, said the blood on his father’s face didn’t bother him too much.
“He bleeds easy, just like me,” Vladimir Draper said.
“I could walk in the wind and have my nose bleed,” said Teddy Draper, who drew a bye into the championship of the 178-pound weight class on Sunday. He’ll face Albuquerque’s Jessie Correa, who knocked off Shiprock’s Kevin Riding-In on Friday night.
The most entertaining bout in the Friday’s preliminary bouts was a 152-pound open clash between Roswell’s Michael Herrera and Clovis’ Jose Rodriguez.
Bleeding from his nose, Rodriguez appeared in serious trouble early in the second round when he was given a standing eight count. But Rodriguez caught fire from that point and, by the end of the second, Herrera was also bleeding from the Clovis fighter’s punches.
Both pugilists stayed on their feet until the end of the three-round fight and Rodriguez was awarded the decision.
In another exhibition bout, Clovis’ Edgar Zubia — now a student at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs — lost a decision to Las Cruces’ Enrique Vasquez.
Each, however, is in a different weight classification in the Golden Gloves competition and will fight Sunday in championships.
“We know each other pretty well. We’ve traveled to the regional tournament, to the national tournament,” said Zubia, one of two Clovis fighters to advance to the national Golden Gloves event last year. “We were even roomies at the national tournament. This (show bout) kind of helps us get rid of the cobwebs, or all the ring rust. It was wonderful to get in there and just be able to fight.”