Four-time Fort Worth Regional Golden Gloves champion Jordan Najar carried some rust into the ring on Friday night, and it almost cost him a shot at another title.
Najar needed a rally in the third round at the Will Rogers Memorial Center’s Watt Arena to overcome Eusebio Maldonado, a rematch of a 123-pound Men’s Open division match from a year ago.
Najar used his reach to outscore Maldonado and better avoid Maldonado’s counterpunches that he used so effectively to win Round 2.
Najar, 23, has an elusive state title on his mind, but after having not fought since a tournament in New Mexico in May, he might first need a touch of WD-40.
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“I was behind in the fight,” said Najar, the defending champion in this division. “My legs weren’t warmed up. I was starting out late. I knew after that second round, I had to come back stronger.
“He was waiting for me to throw and counterpunch and pick me off from the outside.”
The match was Najar’s first of the tournament.
He advanced to face Daniel Salinas, who hasn’t fought this week.
Each of the champions of the open divisions will advance to the state tournament next week at Watt Arena. Boxers from across the state will gather here, vying to represent Texas at the national tournament in Omaha, Neb.
The finals are scheduled for Saturday. The card starts at 7 p.m.
The regional tournament has been light this year on open competition. Four boxers advanced to state without a regional bout.
Q. Burton, the defending champion in 165, was impressive in overwhelming Dajuan Robins, who somehow managed to stay on his feet during all three two-minute rounds. Burton’s championship bout with Chaudrion Hughes, who almost ran out of gas while defeating Octavious Williams, has all the makings of a smart set-to.
Two other defending champions returned, though in different classes.
Jurgen Deraj and Tevin Watson, winners in the 201-plus and 200 divisions a year ago, are shadows of their former selves, each competing in the 178 division this year.
Deraj won by default. Watson, who trains with the East Fort Worth Police Athletic League, lost a close fight to Tony Lamarr.
At 141 pounds, Gary Hampton, the runner-up a year ago, won a convincing decision over Manuel Herrera.
Working out of the gold corner, Hampton had superior quickness and worked over his rival with devastating overhand rights, one of which led to a standing eight-count in the third round.
Hampton plastered him twice again in the last few moments of the last round, buckling Herrera’s legs just before the sound of the bell.
Last year, Najar reclaimed the championship taken from him by Joel Ambriz in 2016. At the state tournament, he dropped a decision to Martel Washpun of Houston.
Najar is going to New Mexico in May for the U.S. Western qualifier.
Najar appeared to get an edge on Maldonado in the last 30 seconds with a good strong right hook. But Maldonado countered with another strong left. Najar then landed a stiff jab and a combination to the body. He closed that sequence with three more good jabs.
“He’s gotten better,” Najar said of Maldonado. “He’s quicker now and throws a lot more. He surprised me.”
70 pounds (8-9): Isaiah Blanco d. Isaac Sanchez, dec.
80 pounds (11-12): Angel Garza d. Gabriel Bachert, dec.
90 pounds (11-12): Joaquin Trevino d. Alexander Veliz, RSF (1st Round).
90 pounds (12): Nestor Mejia d. Israel Villegas, dec.
101 pound (13-14): Jesus Zamarripa d. Emanuel Moreno, dec.
154 pounds (15-16): Jake Reynolds d. Jolan Demeu Lemester, dec.
110 pounds (15-16): German Loped d. David Lopez, default.
165 pounds (15-16): Clayton Kracy d. Jeremiah Santos, dec..
80 pounds (11-12): Kayleigh Wadsworth d. Amiyah Johnson, dec.
90 pounds (11-12): Savina Gonzales d. Mia Perez, dec.
123 pounds: Jacob James d. Jmaure Booth, dec.; Vicenzo Ramos advanced by default over Carlos Pena.
132 pounds: Dearon Bursey d. Jordan Carranza, dec.
152 pounds: Luis Pastrania d. Jason Chambers, dec; Josue Carreon d. Christian Raney, dec.
165 pounds: Juan Carlos DeLeon d. Darren Whitney, dec.; Jacob Fernandez d. Tyler Hoselton, dec.
201 pounds: Juan Nino advanced by default over Theodore Perez; Dekedrian Turner d. Cesar Gomez, dec.
123 pounds semifinals: Jordan Najar vs. Eusebio Maldonado, dec.
141 pounds semifinals: Gary Hampton d. Manuel Herrera, dec.
165 pounds semifinals: Chaudrion Hughes d. Octavious Williams, dec.; Quran Burton d. Dajuan Robins, dec.
178 pounds semifinals: Tony Lamarr d. Tevin Watson, dec.; Jurgen Deraj advanced by default over D’Andre Walker.
75 pounds (9-10): Kayden Mitchell vs. Fabian Ortega.
100 pounds (10-11): Santiago Buendia vs. Kaine Pistokache.
80 pounds (11-12): Omar Zamarripa vs. Iziah Garcia.
90 pounds (12): Joseph Rios vs. Israel Villegas.
125 pounds (15-16): Arnoldo Saul Porras vs. Elmer Abrego.
176-plus pounds (15-16): Elijah Flynn vs. Jacob Dunlap.
Female senior novice
119 pounds (16): Makyla Frysinger vs. Cameron Bittick.
106 pounds: Marlene Jimenez vs. Erin Davis.
125 pounds: Adrienne Hughie vs. Roosa Jones-Mitchell.
152 pounds: Jasmin Lopez vs. Deborah Kouzmin.
Youth men’s novice
152 pounds (17): Isaiah Carter vs. John Sistrunk.
132 pounds (17): Joel Martinez vs. Arturo Neri.
Men’s novice finals
123 pounds: Jacob James vs. Vicenzo Ramos.
132 pounds: Dearon Bursey vs. Manuel Ochoa.
141 pounds: Juan Renteria vs. Jherion Levesque.
152 pounds: Luis Pastrania vs. Josue Carreon.
165 pounds: Juan Carlos DeLeon vs. Jacob Fernandez.
178 pounds: Johnny Anderson vs. Edrick Marshall.
201 pounds: Juan Nino vs. Dekedrian Turner.
201-plus pounds: Ricardo Herrera vs. Dustin Apodaca.
Men’s open finals
123 pounds: Daniel Salinas vs. Jordan Najar.
132 pounds: Jordan Pace vs. Kevin Otero.
141 pounds: Adam Pacheco vs. Gary Hampton.
165 pounds: Chaudrion Hughes vs. Quran Burton.
178 pounds: Tony Lamarr vs. Jurgen Deraj.