Boxing

Fort Worth boxer begins state title quest with Golden Gloves win

Edwin Tula, left, and Fort Worth’s Xavier Rodriguez look for an opening during the first round of their bout at the Texas State Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament. Rodriguez won the fight by decision.
Edwin Tula, left, and Fort Worth’s Xavier Rodriguez look for an opening during the first round of their bout at the Texas State Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament. Rodriguez won the fight by decision. Special to the Star-Telegram

On Texas Independence Day, Fort Worth’s Xavier Rodriguez by happenstance had his mind on regime change.

The goal for the Fort Worth Castleberry High School junior at the 80th Golden Gloves State Tournament is the overthrow of the formidable Pablo Ramirez of Rio Grande Valley.

Ramirez is the two-time defending state champion and reigning national champion in the 108-pound division, as well as bronze medalist in December’s U.S. Olympic Trials.

Rodriguez got off to a strong start by overwhelming Houston’s Edwin Tula in each of the three two-minute rounds at the Will Rogers Memorial Center’s Watt Arena on Wednesday night in Fort Worth.

Rio Grande Valley’s Pablo Ramirez is the two-time defending state champion and reigning national champion in the 108-pound division.

“I’m not looking too far ahead,” Rodriguez said of Ramirez. “I’m just making sure my mind is where it needs to be. I feel like I dominated the fight, and now it’s time to get ready for the next one.”

Fort Worth boxers went 3-4 on the opening night of the tournament, which runs through Saturday. Champions of their respective divisions move on to the national tournament in Salt Lake City in May.

Fort Worth’s Joel Ambriz, the defending state champion in the 123-pound division, won a tough bout with Martel Washpun. In the 201-pound division, David Cordova of Waco, who fights out of the Fort Worth region, advanced with a decision over Austin’s Rueben De La Rosa.

Next on Rodriguez’s schedule is a semifinals bout Friday with Roberto Rodriguez of San Antonio. Ramirez, admittedly rusty in a decision victory over Dallas’ Stephen Acosta, is on the other side of the bracket. The earliest the two could meet would be Saturday’s final.

That would represent a rematch of the final from a year ago.

I’m a lot smarter than last year.

Fort Worth’s Xavier Rodriguez, a high school junior, on his title quest

Rodriguez bloodied Tula’s nose in the second round with repeated left hands that went undefended as the Fort Worth boxer added up points while evading counter punches.

“I’ve developed a lot since last year, and I feel I’m better with my technical skill,” Rodriguez said. “I’m a lot smarter than last year.”

He is also completely healthy, unlike 2015 when he battled a leg injury.

So is Ramirez, who came out flat in his first bout, a result of rust. “That always happens to me. As the days go by I get a lot stronger, my mentality gets better.”

Ramirez, 19, is 104-20 with six national championships in various tournaments as an amateur.

In addition to his gold at the national tournament last year, Ramirez earned a bronze two years ago. That’s why he is the presumptive favorite.

“I guess you could say that,” said Ramirez, who plans to turn pro after the Golden Gloves. “I leave it in God’s hands.”

He has yet to have to play that card in Fort Worth.

Dallas fighter wins

Watt Arena went silent for several minutes as Corpus Christi’s Jacob Duran lay motionless for several minutes after being knocked out by Houston’s Cedric Washington in the 201-pound division.

Duran got up with assistance from doctors and trainers. He remained under observation.

Washington’s victory marked an opening-night high fourth for Houston, which went 4-3. Dallas went 2-2, San Antonio 2-1 and Corpus Christi 1-3.

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