CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Javier Zepeda of Roswell, left, lands a punch on the right side of Albuquerque’s Enrique Medel’s head during Saturday’s Golden Gloves boxing tournament at Roy Walker Recreation Center.
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Edgar Zubia may be from Hobbs, where he still lives, but he’s been training with the Clovis boxing club so long that he’s considered a local in that town, too. During bouts involving Clovis boxers, Zubia is often shouting encouragement from the stands, if not from their corners.
On Friday, at the 61st annual Golden Gloves state boxing championships, the shouts were for Zubia. Trying to defend his state title at 141 pounds, Zubia’s skills helped work the near-capacity crowd at Roy Walker Gymnasium to a frenzy during his bout with Albuquerque’s Jesus Holguin.
Zubia won his semifinal against Holguin and will face fellow Clovis Boxing Club member Gabino Armijo in today’s championship.
“That’s why we all do it. We all do it to have the crowd behind you,” said Zubia, 22, after his win by decision. “The people from Clovis here are great and they’ve always been behind me 100 percent — as it showed tonight.”
In all three rounds, Zubia had strong punching sequences while never facing extreme danger himself from Holguin. Zubia scored points by catching his opponent on the rope in the opening round. Then, in rounds two and three, Zubia snared Holguin with several clean shots to the head.
“I expected a tough fight, but maybe not as tough as we had,” Zubia said. “I didn’t expect it to be a war like that.”
Today’s championship bouts begin at 1:30 p.m. at Roy Walker. Title matchess will be contested in all 11 weight categories for Golden Gloves, with winners advancing to regional competition against Colorado champions on April 4th.
In other open-division fights on Saturday, Albuquerque’s Yoel Gonzales beat fellow Duke City boxer Eddie Givens by decision in a 125-pound clash. At 165 pounds, all the semifinalists were also from Albuquerque as Tony Martinez beat Jay Salazar-King and Jesus Correa decisiioned Alejandro Fajardo.
Clovis’ Kevin Mah, fresh off his first Golden Gloves victory in four years, was also hoping to make today’s finals.
But Mah ran into the defending state champ at 132 pounds in Fidel Maldonado and was defeated by decision. Maldonado, from Albuquerque, advanced to the semifinals of the national Golden Gloves tournament in 2008.
“He’s top 50 in the U.S., that’s what I heard,” Mah said. “He was good. I was expecting a little more — not to say he didn’t beat me.”
Mah actually seemed to gain a little confidence at the end of the second round against Maldonado, who was the aggressor throughout the match.
“I was a little nervous out there, but I did my best. I got my feel for it and started to realize he was just another person,” he said. “One more round would’ve been nice.”
The open bouts were preceded by several non-Golden Gloves qualifying matches. Among the winners was Joseph Aguilar and Marshall Moore from Clovis, while Ayana Vasquez of Las Cruces earned the victory in the lone contest held between girls.