Joel Ambriz finished this week’s to-do list by capturing a second consecutive Golden Gloves Regional Tournament championship Saturday night at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
Now it’s on to unfinished business.
Ambriz, the most consistently good fighter here all week, won all three rounds in defeating No Excuses teammate Cory Neal in the 123-pound final of the Open Division at Watt Arena.
Neal represented Ambriz’s best competition this week in presenting stiff competition in all three, three-minute rounds.
By virtue of his triumph, Ambriz heads to the state tournament this coming week in Fort Worth, where the best Golden Gloves fighters from Texas will gather seeking berths in the national tournament in Las Vegas. The tournament starts Wednesday.
Ambriz hopes to fight Francisco Martinez, the Dallas fighter who defeated him in a close fight a year ago in state.
“This is where we wanted to go,” Ambriz said. “I put everything I got into it. That’s the only challenge we have right now. I’m very confident right now.”
Ambriz, 19, countered Neal’s quickness with his own, ducking and returning missed shots with blazing fast combinations that bent Neal’s head back on a few occasions in the first and last rounds.
The less experienced Neal, who has fought two years compared to his opponent’s 10, was nonetheless good preparation for Ambriz.
Eddie Rangel of No Excuses said Neal has gone 42 rounds with Martinez and won 30.
“It’s going to be hard,” Rangel said. “This is state. Guys have been preparing a long time for this. We have much respect for Francisco Martinez, but that’s our goal, Francisco Martinez.”
Three fighters from Reyes Boxing Club advanced to state. A fourth, Gregory Dismukes, was fighting late in the 201-plus final.
In all, Reyes had five fighters in finals, including Rodolfo Rivas, who won the 152 final over teammate David Rubio. In the 114 final, Christopher Martinez got the best of Jordan Najar, a state qualifier a year ago.
Edward Vasquez qualified for state in only his second appearance in the Open Division.
The Arlington Heights senior received a proud embrace from his father after dispensing of Anthony Salas in the 141 final.
“This is a lifelong dream,” Vasquez said. “I made it in my second year in the Open Division and I’m excited about next week.”
Alex Bermudez of Gatesville advanced to his second trip to state in three years by outlasting David Marquez in the 201 final.
Marquez was a state finalist in 2012 and fought up in weight last year but did not advance.
Bermudez worked over Marquez with body shots that tired his opponent. Marquez found openings in the third round and landed several combinations to the head that appeared to hurt Bermudez.
The Gatesville fighter stood firm, however.
“Second time is the charm,” Bermudez said of his prospects next week.
In the last bout of the Regional Tournament, Raymond Walker defeated Gregory Dismukes in the 201-plus final.
The referee deducted a point from Dismukes for holding in the third round.
Jeff Allen and Matt Morgan aren’t typical Golden Gloves combatants.
But the professor and the minister matched wits in the sweet science on Saturday night.
In a 178-pound masters match, Allen, a 46-year-old professor of learning technologies at North Texas in Denton, won a decision over Morgan, an ordained minister who goes by the ring nickname of “The Christian Warrior.”
“I started boxing when I was working on my doctorate,” said Allen. “It’s a competitive bone, and it’s the chess match of sports. I’m humbled by how much I’ve learned.
“And I didn’t want to get fat.”