Fort Worth boxer given second chance, wins State Golden Gloves opener

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so said Will Rogers, whose crafty quips seemingly always had the effect of a sharp right to the nose.

Unless you're LaDez Jones, who has proved capable of taking a punch.

The Fort Worth boxer wasn't supposed to be here after losing in the final at last week's regional tournament, but that changed when his opponent in that bout was ruled ineligible.

Jones made the most of his second chance on Wednesday, leaving a great first impression at the Golden Gloves State tournament at John Justin Arena on the grounds of Will Rogers Memorial Center, advancing to the second round of the 123-pound division with a decision over David Munoz of El Paso.

"I felt like I had more to prove tonight," Jones said. "I got a second chance, and I couldn't let Fort Worth down."

Jones was called to duty when the initial champion, Tony Lopez, had his Open regional title revoked after officials discovered he was not a U.S. citizen, said Jeanie Sharp, president of the Fort Worth Golden Gloves.

Citizenship is a requirement for competing. Sharp said she does not believe deceit played any role in the matter. The box on his Gloves tournament registration form indicating noncitizenship was marked, Sharp said.

When his trainer, Vincent Reyes, asked him about the issue, Lopez, a highly rated amateur with a 64-4 record, frankly acknowledged that he was not, Sharp said.

"He shouldn't have been in last week's tournament," said Sharp, emphasizing that Lopez, a senior at Alvarado High School, is in the country legally.

All of that opened the door for Jones, who found out Monday that he was back in. His performance Wednesday had one of his trainers, Tony Salas, predicting that "it's going to be a runner-up that wins it all."

Jones used his quickness to get inside and score by mixing it up on the taller Munoz. He was then able to briskly get out and away from Munoz's punches.

Jones, a South Hills High School graduate, was one of four Fort Worth division fighters to advance. Markale Duncan looked sharp in a 114-pound decision over Marc Torres, a Houstonite; Alejandro Bermudez punished Jacob Duran, a Corpus Christi fighter, with body blows to win a decision at 201, and Darryn McDade (178) edged Rodney Rice of San Antonio.

Jose Salinas, a 152-pounder, lost a decision to Michael Lane of Dallas; and Fabian Melo (165) lost to Enrique Neira of Twin Cities.

McDade, a pupil of Jimenez Boxing Club in Denton, said he needs to better focus to have a chance in his division.

Focus isn't a problem for Jones, now officially transformed, from runner-up to confident contender.

"I believe I'm strong enough, fast enough and in shape enough to win," Jones said. "I can't go in there and fight anybody else's fight. And I'll give licks back."