Joel Ambriz’s campaign for national Golden Gloves glory moved on to the next step with a triumph on Friday night.
Ambriz, with advantages in quickness and reach, made another successful defense of his state championship Friday, outdueling Joshua Montoya in the semifinals of the 123-pound division.
In winning the judges’ favor in a decision victory, the Arlington boxer worked over the Lubbock brawler with an accurate left jab and bruising body shots at the Golden Gloves State Tournament at Watt Arena on the grounds of the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
I always feel like I can beat my opponents. Today, I just didn’t show up … I wasn’t myself. My head wasn’t in it today.
Xavier Rodriguez, the Castleberry High School junior who lost in the 108-pound semifinals
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Fort Worth’s Xavier Rodriguez, meanwhile, walked away in disappointment, falling in the semifinals of the 108-pound division.
Ambriz appeared sharp and fresh and more technically sound than the more free-swinging Montoya, to date Ambriz’s best opponent the past two weeks.
“My coach told me I got the first two rounds, and I knew I got them too,” Ambriz said of what he felt he needed to do in the third. “I just kept my pace.”
Ambriz, a national Golden Gloves quarterfinalist a year ago, advanced to the final and will face Dallas’ Angel Alejandro Saturday. Championship bouts begin at 7 p.m. at the Watt Arena.
On the line are berths to the national tournament, which begins in May in Salt Lake City.
The 20-year-old Ambriz defeated Alejandro’s brother, Arnold, a year ago in the first round.
He’s been in the gym the last 2 1/2 months. Four years ago he got in the gym a week before the Gloves. Three years ago, two weeks before. Last year, three weeks before.
Eddie Rangel, trainer for Joel Ambriz, the Arlington boxer bidding for a state title and another trip to nationals
“This was an impressive performance,” said Eddie Rangel, Ambriz’s trainer. “He’s been in the gym the last 2 1/2 months. Four years ago he got in the gym a week before the Gloves. Three years ago, two weeks before. Last year, three weeks before.
“He’s in the gym, and he’s sharp.”
As Ambriz thought about Saturday, Rodriguez accepted his loss with grace, his hoped-for finals rematch with defending national champion Pablo Ramirez in the 108 was not meant to be.
The 16-year-old Castleberry High School junior found himself pressed and under assault from the middle of the first round in a decision loss to Roberto Rodriguez of San Antonio.
As always, Xavier Rodriguez bent to one knee in prayer in his corner after the fight, thankful, he said afterward, for his health and opportunities to be here and for the wisdom of judges.
“I always feel like I can beat my opponents,” Xavier Rodriguez said. “Today, I just didn’t show up … I wasn’t myself. My head wasn’t in it today.”
Rodriguez said he will be back next year, though his nemesis, Ramirez, likely won’t be.
A bronze medalist in the U.S. Olympic Trials in December, the Weslaco fighter is planning to turn pro after the Gloves after what he hopes is a seventh national title overall.
Ambriz a solo act?
Ambriz at one point Friday was the only fighter from the Fort Worth team to advance to the finals. David Cordova, from Waco but fighting out of the Fort Worth region, lost in a 201-pound decision to Randy Harris of East Texas controlled.
Cordova disputed a standing eight count in the first-round knockdown that looked more like a slip or a trip.
“I’m OK,” he told the referee as he shook his head to Taylor.
Cordova tried to rally with right hands that seemed to stun Harris in each of the second and third rounds.
Gregory Dismukes won Fort Worth’s final shot at the finals. He won his 201-plus semifinal late Friday night. Ramiro Urzua had not completed his semifinal at press time.
Houston sent a tournament-high five boxers to tonight’s 10 championship bouts.