Despite not competing here last year, David Fabela still feels like the defending champion of the Fort Worth Regional Golden Gloves tournament.
He looked the part in victory on Thursday, and it wasn’t merely the “Team Texas” truck he was wearing.
A plucky Fabela had to grind, but he earned a decision victory over upstart Adan Pacheco in the semifinals of the 141-pound Open Division at Watt Arena in the Will Roger Memorial Center.
The fight marked the second in two years for Fabela, who won the state title in 2015. He was noticeably tired in the waning moments of the third of three, two-minute rounds. He needed to win the third round and connected cleanly on just enough of his punches.
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“I still feel like I’m the defending champion,” said Fabela, who fights out of the Reyes Boxing Club. “I’m still not clicking. I probably don’t have enough training.
“I think the first two rounds were close. I needed the third.”
Fabela will face Gary Hampton in the final on Saturday. The winner will advance to the state tournament next week at Watt Arena.
In the 165-pound division, Antonio Hatchett advanced to the semifinals by winning an electric fight over Tony Lamar in the last bout on the card. The two were greeted by a standing ovation after the final bell.
Hampton, a veteran of one Open Division tournament last year, defeated Reyes boxer Luis De La Fuentes by a decision, though he almost raised his arms in triumph in the second. Hampton slipped a jab, stepped right, and caught De La Fuentes’ flush with a right hook.
De La Fuentes went straight to the canvas, though he survived the eight-count. As Hampton surged to try to finish off his rival, the bell rung. Hampton, 23, an Everman High School grad, used his quick feet to dance around De La Fuentes in the third.
“Down goes Frazier,” said Hampton, who made an enthusiastic leap toward his corner as he saw De La Fuentes buckle and fall. “In the third round, I just didn’t want to get hit. I wasn’t going to let him get close enough to me to get a big hit.”
The victory was Hampton’s first in the Open Division. He believed he was “robbed” in a first-round bout a year ago.
A lot of them — athletes, politicians or whoever — say that in the heat of disappointment.
Next, Hampton will get the gritty “defending champion.”
“I think I can throw more punches. I’ll be ready,” said Fabela, who needed the upcoming day off.
The right choices
Before he learned how to box, Zachary Dulany learned the definition of insanity.
“You get tired of going to jail every weekend or waking up in some stranger’s house all strung out,” said Dulany, a Waco resident. “You get tired of it.”
Dulany said he eventually simply had enough.
The 27-year-old is now math obsessed as a student at McLennan Community College. His career goal: “Do math all day long.” A living as a mechanical engineer is the ultimate goal.
“I didn’t want to be crazy for the rest of my life,” Dulany said, “so I started eliminating people from my life and the bad habits that I had. It led me up here.”
Dulany was a loser on Thursday, dropping a decision to Nestor Frayre in the Men’s Novice 165-pound division, but he’s no loser.