Estevan Roman of the north side neighborhood of Diamond Hill joined an exclusive club of elite amateur champions from his hometown of Fort Worth when he was crowned Golden Gloves state champion Saturday night at the John Justin Arena.
Roman, who received a standing eight-count in the first round after a hard blow to a previously sore right side, outboxed brawler Alex Gayton of the Rio Grande Valley in a decision victory in the 178-pound finals.
With the victory, Roman advanced to the national tournament in Salt Lake City in May, the first boxer from Fort Worth to move on since Carlos Alcala in 2009.
“Great champions,” Roman, an 18-year-old Diamond Hill High School senior, said of the city’s past champions. “It feels great. I’m the best in Texas right now. These are emotions I can’t explain.”
Antonio Castillo had hoped to make the trip to nationals with his Fort Worth teammate, but he lost in a decision to George Rincon, now a five-time state champion in the 141 division.
Rincon’s Dallas teammates shared the state team title with San Antonio. Each had four state champions.
Rincon, the defending national champion in his weight class and a participant in last year’s U.S. Olympic Trials, will not return next year. He plans to go pro sometime this year.
“I came and did my thing,” said Rincon, 21. “It’s weird and sad that it’s the last time I’ll fight here. I have a lot of respect for all the fighters. It’s my last year, but it was the toughest.”
Castillo tried to stay away, box and counter-punch, but Rincon waited out his opponent.
Roman succeeded with the same strategy. An aggressive Gayton swung away and Roman was able to evade and score on the counter.
“I went in there thinking I would box him,” said Roman, who acknowledged that the first-round blow was painful. “But I couldn’t quit. I gave it my all. I was satisfied, win or lose. I gave it all I had.”
The last bout of the night featured the biggest of them all, the 201-plus division and 10-time state qualifier Robert Gutierrez of Corpus Christi seeking his first championship.
Gutierrez, 34, who keeps saying every year is his last, fell short again, losing to Kent Brinson of San Antonio.
Brinson gave up close to 85 pounds to the 307-pound Gutierrez and several inches in height, but judges gave him the edge in outslugging his foe in a decision that appeared to surprise Gutierrez.