February 19, 2014

Confidence carries young boxer into Golden Gloves Open semifinals

Seventeen-year-old Rodolfo Rivas aims for state tournament berth.

Rodolfo Rivas is an Open Division rookie, but he has brought an impressive résumé to his debut in this year’s Golden Golden Regional Tournament.

He introduced himself with a decision victory over L’Darius Whetstone in the quarterfinals of the 152-pound division of the Golden Gloves Regional Tournament on Wednesday at Watt Arena.

On display was the quickness and effective jab that made him a state and national Silver Gloves champion and winner of the Games of Texas.

At 17, he’s the youngest fighter in his division, but he feels no intimidation or reservation about facing off with older and more experienced fighters.

“I did [feel some intimidation] at first, but I’ve been putting in the work,” said Rivas, a junior at Castleberry High School. “I’m confident in myself.”

The regional tournament continues through Saturday. Bouts start at 7 each night.

Rivas received a bye into the quarterfinals after neither Luke Bateman nor David Fabela showed for their fight. John Duplesis, a Golden Gloves veteran, will fight David Rubio on Friday for the other spot in the final. The champion will advance to the state tournament next week in Fort Worth.

“I need to stay focused and work the fight to my advantages,” said Rivas, who needed to hang on after Whetstone rallied with several connections in the last two minutes.

The Reyes Boxing Club fighter slipped to one knee in the first round, but otherwise jumped out to a lead by working his opponent with a good left jab to a few locations. Though he was effective in controlling Whetstone’s jab, Rivas never found an opening for his right.

“He was a good opponent,” Rivas said. “I just couldn’t find a right.”

Big boys

In the last bout of the night, Raymond Walker defeated Alex Alvarez to advance to the semifinals of the 201-plus Open Division.

Walker will meet Jesse Parker on Friday night in a battle of 250-somethings. Pablo Galindo and Gregory Dismukes face off for a berth in the final Saturday.

Champions crowned

Several female boxers were crowned regional champions with victories, including Vivian Marshall (8-10 novice), Giselle Gomez (11-12 novice), Winter Parker (15-16 senior novice) and Amanda Bermudez (14-15 novice).

Power pack

Why is Phillip Mustafa of Arlington so confident about his chances in the 165-pound men’s Novice Division? He throws a right hand with a purpose. Mustafa advanced when opponent Emilo Morales decided he wanted no more after the first round.

“I had some good spots,” said Mustafa, who is a student at Tarrant County College, “and I hit him with some hard punches.”

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