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Ringside Boxing Report: Palm Bay Amateur Boxing Bash

The Road Toward the Golden Gloves and Beyond

Golden Glove and Junior Olympic hopefuls tuned up at a local show at the Palm Bay Recreational Center in Palm Bay, Florida on Saturday. Over 100 boxers registered and a total of 21 bouts were put on for an excited and raucous audience. "It's a very good turnout," said Robert Nicholson, Registration Chairman of the Florida Association of USA Boxing. "It's going to be a very entertaining show."

While it wasn't possible to match up the huge number of fighters, the fights that were scheduled were entertaining crowd pleasers. The show started with a lucky red corner, where the first five bouts were won by the fighter from that corner. Among those were little eleven year old, 70lb pound Joshua Pagan and Ariel Vega, who came out swinging from the bell. The tiny tykes threw big bombs during the match, which hyped up the crowd. In the end, Pagan, representing Positive Progress Boxing Club, won by decision.

Another early bout featured Edwin Normandia of Palm Bay Boxing Club and Sonny Duversonne of Manatee PAL. In a contest that deviated from the usual sloppy haymaker amateur match, these two fighters came out measuring each other with straight jabs followed by crisp right hands. In the second round, Normandia hurt Duversonne with a right hand and nearly sent him to the canvas on the way to winning a decision.

In a back and forth rumble, Martin Lagunas of Ruskin Boxing Gym took on Corey Bryant of Sanford Boxing Club. In round one, Bryant put Lagunas on the canvas with a well timed left. But in round two, Lagunas came back and sent Bryant down with a furious combination. Even though Bryant got up, the referee waved it off and awarded Lagunas the match.

If there was a fight of the night, it was certainly bout twelve. Gabriel Phan of Dan's Boxing Gym refused to allow Xavier Lugo to stand on his feet during their bout. Phan staggered and put down Lugo in the first round, then with almost every flurry afterwards, Phan would knock Lugo down. The tall and lanky welterweight aimed his power punches like a sniper, timing Lugo when he would try to close the distance.

The crowd was in its feet almost the entire bout, yelling and cheering with each big punch. One could tell that something big would land every time the two threw punches, like a car crash waiting to happen. Lugo managed to survive the first round, but in the second, the referee decided he had taken enough punishment and stopped the fight.

Speaking with Gabriel Phan after his dominating performance, he was already preparing for his next test: the Golden Gloves. Even though this was his first open bout (after turning 17, a boxer starts to fight opponents over that age), he showed a lot of maturity and focus. He also hadn't fought since August of last year, but was ready for his opponent. "I wanted to come back strong," said Phan.

While he noted that his punching power was an important aspect of his style, the teenager realized that he could have been a bit calmer and looser. For his preparation for the Golden Gloves, Phan didn't have any special routines or plans set. "I'm just going to stay sharp," he said.

Gabriel's father and coach, Dan, shared the same views as his son, which comes as no surprise since his son's ideals are a reflection of the repeated instructions that the father instills in his son. The duo is poised to make it on the U. team for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. But first, they're focused on the Golden Gloves, which is just one step toward their ultimate goal.

"We're looking for state and national championships," Dan said. "Our goal is to make the US team and the Golden Gloves tournament is just one thing on that road."

From the look of things, the Phans are clearly focused on what their goals are and young Gabriel has the tools to fulfill those aspirations.

As for the boxing show as a whole, the fans definitely got their money's worth. With 21 bouts, a staggering amount even for an amateur show, and Golden Glove hopefuls battling it out, Palm Bay Rec Center was a proud host for great amateur talent.

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