Daytron Abdullah danced to an imaginary beat as he stepped into the ring on Friday, but it was Fort Worth’s David Fabela who did the rocking.
Fabela stalked Abdullah as he continued to try to dance in the ring, but the Austin boxer was at the mercy of the 20-year-old North Sider for six minutes at Will Rogers’ Watt Arena.
Fabela won all three rounds convincingly in the semifinals of the 141-pound division of the Texas State Golden Gloves Tournament, and he didn’t do it by throwing pitty-patty punches. Rather, he whacked his rival with combinations led with wicked left hooks that time and again jolted Abdullah’s head from side to side while energizing the crowd of onlookers.
Fabela, seeking a second state title in three years, will meet D’Angelo Keyes of Houston for the championship on Saturday night.
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He was dancing, but dancing is for clowns. I let him dance. I knew he was going to waste his energy.
David Fabela, Golden Gloves fighter
“He was dancing, but dancing is for clowns,” said Fabela, a Reyes Boxing Club fighter. “I let him dance. I knew he was going to waste his energy.”
Fort Worth is sending a tournament-high five boxers to championship bouts. The hometown guys had another good night, going 5-1-1. Entering the final day, Fort Worth is a tournament-best 9-4-1. Houston is 9-8.
In the 201-plus semifinal, Fort Worth’s Jergen Deraj and Damon Stearne of Dallas were both disqualified because of facial hair, long prohibited by the Golden Gloves.
In the first bout of the evening, Xavier Rodriguez, another Reyes fighter, defeated Dallas’ Stephen Acosta by a decision in the 108-pound division. Rodriguez is vying to become the boxer who succeeds Pablo Ramirez, a two-time defending national champion who has turned pro.
In the 132, Jordan Pace won a close decision, over Oscar Perez of Houston, as did Q. Barton, a victor over Houston’s Austin William, who stood in disbelief as the decision of his defeat was announced.
Rafael Gaitan, a two-time Junior Olympic champion who has traveled the world in pursuit of his pugilist dreams, also advanced and there wasn’t much question about it. He controlled all three rounds against Dallas’ Burley Brooks in the 178 division.
The two best fighters in the 108 appeared to square off on Friday. Fort Worth’s Rodriguez was able to overcome a height disadvantage with sharp, accurate punches to the breadbasket.
Rodriguez also benefited from Acosta being deducted a point by the referee for hitting after being told to stop. He had been warned twice before an elbow connected with Rodriguez’s chin.
“He was just getting frustrated, I guess,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t mind it. I got the victory at the end of the day.”
Fabela got busy early, cornering his opposite in the first moments of the fight and dislodging Abdullah’s mouth piece with a combination that could have been mistaken for a cannon ball. He increased the ferocity of his attack in the third round, as Abdullah appeared to merely hang on to his balance.
“I knew he was going to get tired, so I picked it up in the third round,” said Fabela, who looked at his peak over two weeks. Fabela was the state champ in 2015 but left boxing after a first-round loss at nationals the same year.
“Today, I felt the best. I still got to get it tomorrow.”
Jesus “J.R.” Guzman, who moved up in weight to fill Fort Worth’s vacancy in the 114, lost to Houston’s Ephraim Bui. Bui was the runner up in the division a year ago.
The co-disqualification of Deraj and Stearnes, in addition to leaving Fort Worth coach Joe Guzman more than a little miffed at his fighter, turned the semifinal bout between Juan Garza of Corpus Christi and Saibu Habeeb of Dallas into the state championship. Garza won the 201-plus pound division by points.
“He knows,” Joe Guzman said. “They know the rules. Those are the rules.”
108 pounds semifinals: Christopher Rodriguez, Rio Grande Valley, d. Alex Martinez, East Texas, dec.; Xavier Rodriguez, Fort Worth, d. Stephen Acosta, Dallas, dec.
114 pounds semifinals: Jovany Carrillo, Dallas, d. Joe Martinez, Corpus Christi, dec.; Ephraim Bui, Houston, d. Jesus “J.R.” Guzman, Fort Worth, dec.
123 pounds semifinals: Isaac Lopez, Austin, d. William Sepulveda, El Paso, dec.; Angel Alejandro, Dallas, d. Martel Washpun, Houston, RSF (Round 2).
132 pounds semifinals: John Torres, Corpus Christi, d. Allen Garcia, Austin, dec.; Jordan Pace, Fort Worth, d. Oscar Perez, Houston, dec.
141 pounds semifinals: David Fabela, Fort Worth, d. Daytron Abdullah, Austin, dec.; D’Angelo Keyes, Houston, d. Raul Manrique, Dallas, dec.
152 pounds semifinals: Victor Aranda, El Paso, d. Daniel Cantu, Austin, dec.; Ysrael Barboza, Corpus Christi, d. Alex Donis, Houston, dec.
165 pounds semifinals: Q. Barton, Fort Worth, d. Austin William, Houston, dec.; Jorge Tovar, El Paso, d. Noah Jones, Dallas, dec.
178 pounds semifinals: Hector Ferreyro, Rio Grande Valley, d. Delyon Taylor, Twin Cities, dec.; Rafael Gaitan, Fort Worth, d. Burley Brooks, Dallas, dec.
200 pounds semifinals: Dominic Okopie, Houston, d. Peter Villanueva, Austin, dec.; Rolando Soto, Rio Grande Valley, d. Luther McAfee, East Texas, dec.
201-plus pounds semifinals: Jergen Deraj, Fort Worth vs. Damon Stearne, Dallas, co-DQ (facial hair).
201-plus pounds final: Juan Garza, Corpus Christi, d. Saibu Habeeb, East Texas, dec.
108 pounds: Christopher Rodriguez, Rio Grande Valley, vs. Xavier Rodriguez, Fort Worth.
114 pounds: Jovany Carrillo, Dallas, vs. Ephraim Bui, Houston.
123 pounds: Isaac Lopez, Austin, vs. Angel Alejandro, Dallas.
132 pounds: John Torres, Corpus Christi, vs. Jordan Pace, Fort Worth.
141 pounds: David Fabela, Fort Worth, vs. D’Angelo Keyes, Houston.
152 pounds: Victor Aranda, El Paso, vs. Ysrael Barboza, Corpos Christi.
165 pounds: Q. Barton, Fort Worth, vs. Jorge Tovar, El Paso.
178 pounds: Hector Ferreyro, Rio Grande Valley, vs. Rafael Gaitan, Fort Worth.
200 pounds: Dominic Okopie, Houston, vs. Rolando Soto, Rio Grande Valley.