Fort Worth boxer fights up in class, comes down a winner

In the Men's Open 201 lb bout, Fort Worth's Richard Jones, right, defeated Dionardo Minor of Austin in the Golden Gloves 2018 State Tournament Thursday at the Watt Arena at the Will Rogers Complex.
In the Men's Open 201 lb bout, Fort Worth's Richard Jones, right, defeated Dionardo Minor of Austin in the Golden Gloves 2018 State Tournament Thursday at the Watt Arena at the Will Rogers Complex.

Rather than count the ways, it was far easier to say that Richard Jones was at a disadvantage in every which way on Thursday at the Texas State Golden Gloves tournament.

The 23-year-old Fort Worth boxer entered his heavyweight quarterfinals bout at a decided disadvantage in height, length and weight – 14 pounds lighter – to Austin’s Dionardo Minor.

At 183 pounds, he was not a natural in the 201-pound division heavyweight, but he was too big for 178.

Nonetheless, Jones managed to execute the fight he planned and hung on for dear life as Minor, knowing he needed a knockout, swung and connected with the power of Paul Bunyan and the heart of Rudy in the final moments of Round 3.

Jones stayed upright through a series of blows in the last 20 seconds and earned a decision victory in the semifinals at the Will Rogers Center’s Watt Arena.

“I was, like, ‘wow, he rocked me,’” the soft-spoken Jones said of the final seconds. “I knew I just had to keep fighting. It’s not about who gets hit the hardest, but who works the hardest. I figured that was me.”

Jones advanced to the semifinals, where he will once again find himself an underdog against Dallas’ Kelvin Gibson, who is 12 pounds bigger than the Fort Worth pugilist.

Fort Worth boxer Edib Haunic, a super heavyweight in the 201-plus division scheduled to fight on Thursday, was felled by a rookie mistake.

He was disqualified earlier in the day because he didn’t show for weigh-ins.

Boxers must appear at the Golden Gloves gym the day of their bout between 8-9 a.m. to verify their weight.

On the women’s side of the bracket, Esmeralda Navaro made history as the first winner of a state Golden Gloves bout. The 2018 tournament is the first in which women could advance to the state and national tournament.

She bloodied Felycia[ cq] Luna in a 125-pound bout before winning a judges’ decision.

The Mission native, who is representing the Rio Grande Valley, will next face Alexis Mones of Fort Worth in semifinals on Friday.

The bouts starts at 7 p.m. Championship night is Saturday.

Fort Worth is 3-2 over the first two days of competition. Houston is 6-0, using Albert Okopie’s one-punch, first-round knockout in the super heavyweight division in the last fight to remain unscathed.

Each of the boxers is vying for a berth in the national tournament in Omaha, Neb., in May.

For Jones, fighting in the 201 was a “last-minute thing. I never would have thought I would fight as a heavyweight.”

In fact, Thursday’s bout was his first at that weight.

As he wanted, Jones, who won a novice regional title in 2011, successfully got close to Minor and worked him over with successive body shots and upper cuts. Minor was visibly frustrated. At one point in the second round, Minor shoved Jones away from him, earning a minor scolding from the referee.

“I tried to get on the inside and keep punching as much as I could … wear him out and bring his hands down and hit him with more shots,” Jones said. “He was a lot longer, longer arms, so we had to get on the inside and make it an ugly fight.”

Minor lost his mouthpiece with 20 seconds left. After he put it back in and the referee signaled for them to re-engage, Minor came at Jones like a hungry wild boar.

And he scored, stinging Jones with two hard shots that bent his head back. Jones ducked another while taking a step or two in retreat.

To advance to the championship, Jones will likely have to execute the same game plan against Gibson on Friday.

And he has another plan whenever his tournament ends in victory or defeat on Friday or Saturday.

“I’m going to drop back down to my original weight.”

Thursday’s results

Women’s 125 quarterfinals: Esmeralda Navaro, Rio Grande Valley, d. Felycia Luna, Corpus Christi, dec.; Carmen Vargas, Houston, d. Ashley Bazan, Austin, dec.

Men’s 201 quarterfinals: Kelvin Gibson, Dallas, d. Noah Perez, Twin Cities, dec.; Richard Jones, Fort Worth, d. Dionardo Minor, Austin, dec.; Darius Fulghum, Houston, d. Miguel Tovar, El Paso, dec.; Keaundre Watkins, East Texas, d. Ruben Longoria, Corpus Christi, dec.

201-plus quarterfinals: Damon Stearne, Dallas, d. Edib Haunic, Fort Worth, disqualification; Miguel Rodriguez, Rio Grande Valley, d. Abram Johnson, dec.; Habeeb Saibu, East Texas, d. Rudy Silvas, Austin, dec.; Albert Okopie, Houston, d. Robert Hough, El Paso, RSF (first round).

Friday’s bouts

Women’s 125 pounds semifinals: Alexis Mones, Fort Worth, vs. Esmeralda Navaro, Rio Grande Valley; Carmen Vargas, Houston, vs. Destiny Jasso, Dallas.

Women’s 152 pounds semifinals: Destiny Jones, Austin, vs. Kim Washington, Dallas. (Bye into championship: Jasmin Lopez, Fort Worth).

Men’s open

108 pounds semifinals: Jesus Guzman, Fort Worth, vs. Alex Martinez, East Texas. (Bye into the championship: Ephraim Bui, Houston.)

114 pounds semifinals: Joe Martinez, Corpus Christi, vs. John Atiles, Houston; Jovany Carrillo, Dallas, vs. Mark Argo, Austin.

123 pounds semifinals: Jovani Martinez, Austin, vs. Jordan Najar, Fort Worth; Martel Washpun, Houston, vs. Xavier Rodriguez, East Texas.

132 pounds semifinals: Jose Perez, Dallas, vs. Jordan Pace, Fort Worth; Oscar Perez, Houston, vs. Alejandro Pena, Austin.

141 pounds semifinals: Rodolfo Pena, Houston, vs. Quindale Faulkner, Corpus Christi; Adan Pacheco, Fort Worth, vs. Omar Juarez, Austin.

152 pounds semifinals: Alex Donis, Houston, vs. Luis Flores, Corpus Christi; Devin Anderson, Austin, vs. Edgar Hernandez, Fort Worth.

165 pounds semifinals: Ricardo Salgado, East Texas, vs. Anthony Flores, Austin; Noah Jones, Dallas, vs. Austin Williams, Austin.

178 pounds semifinals: Tony Lamarr, Fort Worth, vs. Ruben De La Rosa, Austin; Hector Ferreyro, Rio Grande Valley, vs. Kenneth Carter, Houston.

201 pounds semifinals: Kelvin Gibson, Dallas, vs. Richard Jones, Fort Worth; Darius Fulghum, Houston, vs. Keaundre Watkins, East Texas.

201-plus pounds semifinals: Damon Stearne, Dallas, vs. Miguel Rodriguez, Rio Grande Valley; Habeeb Saibu, East Texas, vs. Albert Okopie, Houston.

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