Joel Ambriz’s dream date at the Texas state Golden Gloves tournament has arrived.
The Fort Worth regional boxer gets his rematch with Dallas’ Francisco Martinez on Friday in the 123-pound semifinals at Watt Arena at Will Rogers Memorial Center.
On Thursday, Ambriz used his size and reach advantage to defeat Hilario Tovar of Houston in a decision, while Martinez employed devastating body blows to gain a first-round TKO over Xavier Rodriguez of East Texas.
On Friday, Ambriz seeks to earn a berth in the division finals and more importantly, redress a loss to Martinez in last year’s state semifinals.
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Martinez went on to win state.
“I’ve been looking forward to that,” said Ambriz, 19. Friday’s fight card begins at 7 p.m.
Martinez on Thursday “was pretty good,” said Ambriz. “Nothing but body shots, but they weren’t really hitting.
“I’ll need to focus on my combinations.”
Ambriz needed to work a little harder than Martinez to advance. He controlled his bout with Tovar throughout all three, two-minute rounds.
Half a head taller with a decided reach advantage, Ambriz was able to stay outside and score, which he did with a number of body shots and left hooks to the head, including a good smack in the second round.
Martinez, who has 110 amateur victories in 10 years, needed little time, but said he needed more time against Rodriguez.
“I wanted to feel the ring out a little more,” said Martinez, 17, a junior at Duncanville High school. “The competition here is the hardest I’ve had at my weight.”
Friday’s winner is not the presumed champion.
San Antonio boxer Hector Tanajara, 17, the state champ at 114 a year ago, has been dominant in two victories this week.
He scored a second-round TKO Thursday — his 95th victory as an amateur — over Austin’s Kevin Morin.
FW boxers win slugfests
The most crowd-pleasing fight of the night involved Fort Worth fighter Marco Vazquez, a 165-pounder who found himself in a street-style fight with Adrian Pequeno of Houston.
Pequeno, 28, carelessly attacked while seeking the knockout punch. Vazquez, a senior at Mansfield Lake Ridge, countered by scoring time and again over a three-round decision victory in a quarterfinals bout.
“You have to sit there and wait, shoot and move and counter,” said Vazquez. “When somebody attacks, they’re always open for something.”
Vazquez almost sent Pequeno to the canvas in the third round. Two standing-eights followed.
“You have to make sure you capitalize on their mistakes,” Vazquez said.
Fort Worth’s Rodolfo Rivas advanced when a strong overhand right found its target, sending Jose Hernandez of East Texas to the canvas in a 152-pound quarterfinals knockout.
“It was an overhand that landed good,” said Rivas, 16, a Reyes Boxing Club fighter and junior at Castleberry.
Rivas, a former Silver Gloves champ, will fight DeVonte Williams of Houston in the semifinals.
Christopher Martinez (114) also advanced for Fort Worth, which went 4-2 on Thursday and is 7-4 over two days.
Edward Vasquez’s quest for the 141 crown ended in a tight decision loss to an elusive Richard Howell, a San Antonio boxer who won despite losing a point in the second round for holding.
Around the state
• San Antonio fighters are 10-1 overall after going 5-1 on Thursday. Three former state champions are still in the tournament, including Hector Tanajara (123), Cresencio Ramos (132) and Kent Brinson, who fights Fort Worth’s Raymond Walker in the 201-plus semifinals.
• Lubbock fighters had a good night, going 3-1 to improve to 5-6 over two days. Abel Navarrete “didn’t come to lose” and is indeed a strong contender in 132 after finishing as the runner-up last year even with a fractured heel.