Boxers seeking regional berths

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Leo Valencia of Henry’s Golden Gloves, right, takes a swing at Leonardo Sanchez of Albuquerque’s Atrisco Boxing club in Saturday’s 123-pound semifinal bout in state Golden Gloves competition. Sanchez beat Valencia and faces Ronny Perez of Farmington in today’s title match.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

People come to Golden Gloves for the sights and sound of a leather glove hitting its target. The boxers stay for the competition and self-reliance it teaches.

Saturday’s second day of the state Golden Gloves tournament brought 24 fighters from across New Mexico to the Roy Walker Recreation Center. Each is looking for a berth into the regional championships two weeks from now in Denver.

Jim Whitehead, a former boxer and current judge, said he loves the sport and said anybody who gets to Clovis has already gone a good distance in the sport.

“Almost without exception,” Whitehead said, “if you’re boxing for the Olympic team, you went through Golden Gloves.”

Whitehead and two other judges — with alternates, so judges get a few fights off — hold red and blue counters to measure punch counts for the boxers from the respective corners.

The Golden Gloves scoring system puts significant weight on punch counts when fights go to a decision — a commonplace event with only three three-minute rounds.

During the third round between Albuquerque boxers Manuel DeLeon and Adrian Marquez, three different audience members gave three different strategies — and each was confident that jabs, body shots or uppercuts were the only way to go.

In those nine minutes, the boxers are often on their own, as an enthusiastic crowd is sometimes of little help.

“I like it because it’s just two guys,” Whitehead said. “There’s no excuse, you can’t blame it on a teammate. You get all the glory, or all the defeat.”

It’s those nine minutes, and the months of training that go into those nine minutes, that motivate Ronny Perez of Farmington.

“It keeps me out of trouble, and it’s fun,” Perez said as he unwrapped athletic tape from his wrists following his win over Albuquerque’s Eric Gonzales in the 123-pound open fight. “It’s a good sport.”

Perez will face Leonardo Sanchez of Albuquerque in the 123 pound finals today. Championship matches are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.

Danny Martinez, who trains Perez, said the match against Sanchez will be much different from Saturday’s against Gonzales, but every fight is different.

“You just have to see what they do,” said Martinez, who added that he gets his greatest joy from the look on his fighters’ faces when their arm gets raised in triumph. “If he likes to fight on the inside, you’ve got to keep him outside. You don’t want to fight his fight.”