STATE GOLDEN GLOVES: Defending champion impressive

Clovis’ Kala Combs left, fights Albuquerque’s Sabrina Montoya in the 119-pound female division of the state Golden Gloves boxing tournament on Friday night at Roy Walker Community Center. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

Just leave it to a defending state champ to illustrate one rule of boxing: It’s not how many punches you throw, it’s how many you land.

In opening-day action of the state Golden Gloves tournament Friday at Roy Walker Community Center, Edgar Zubia won a battle of Clovis pugilists in the 141-pound division and did it with perhaps the most impressive display of the night.

Zubia was one of two defending state champions to see action the first night. Like Zubia, Albuquerque’s Archie Ray Marquez got off to a good start in defending his 132-pound title by beating Gary Sanchez of Las Cruces.

Nick Lopez came out aggressively against Zubia, launching far more punches in the opening moments. But Zubia, 20, found the mark frequently and forced Lopez into two standing eight-counts before the referee ended the contest on a technical knockout in the first round.

“I didn’t expect him to come on so strong and I really didn’t want to fight that fast of a pace,” Zubia said. “After I guess the first 15 seconds, I settled down and got back to my game plan, which was to stay on the outside and just work with clean, effective, hard punches. We’re working on settling down and really hitting hard, trying to transition to that next level.”

Of the 16 matches for the night, 10 included boxers from Clovis. But the Zubia-Lopez bout was the only one where both contestants were from the host city.

“We come out of the same gym. It’s kind of a misfortune having to fight him, but you have to do what you have to do,” Zubia said. “Unfortunately, there’s no friends inside the squared ring, but once you get out it’s all back to normal. When you spend so many hours training with someone — with all the blood, sweat and tears — it’s hard not to consider someone like that a friend.”

One more Clovis fighter advanced in the Golden Gloves state competition when Elijo Sena, 28, beat Mark Martinez of Hobbs in the super-heavyweight division. In the last fight of the night, Sena earned a decision victory over Martinez — who was competing in his first match.

“He’s a good fighter. That was a hell of a first fight,” said Sena, who is seeking his eighth state Golden Gloves title. “He’s an up-and-comer.”

The nights’ first eight tilts included the likes of 9-year-olds, novices and one women’s match.

Paul Torres of Clovis decisioned Geraldo Corral of Deming in a 141-pound novice fight. Corral started strong, with a sweeping left hook that connected right after the opening bell, but was staggered by Torres in the third round and was barely going when the final bell sounded.

“This is my third fight. He connected with me pretty hard with that left hook, but I started looking for it and went underneath with my right,” said Torres, 18.

In the women’s fight, Clovis 20-year-old Kala Combs presented a withering attack against Sabrina Montoya, 16, of Albuquerque and was rewarded with a judges’ decision.

Combs took the upperhand for good in the third round, which included a standing eight-count for Montoya, and pummeled away at her cornered opponent late in the fight.

“That’s what my coach told me — once you get her in that corner, don’t you let her out,” Combs said. “And I could hear him screaming that.”