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NEWS | April 8, 2010

Airmen advance to Armed Forces Boxing Championships

By Patrick Desmond 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs

Of the nine Airmen who stepped through the ring's red, white and blue ropes at the Air Force Box-offs April 2 - 4 at the Bennett Fitness Center, five walked out victorious.

In one of the tournament's most well-balanced contests, light heavyweight Larry Hampp, Ellsworth AFB, S.D., outpointed Deron Taylor, Austin AGAPE gym.

From the start, Hampp seemed determined to win or go down swinging as he continually tested his opponent.

"You have to be first," Hampp said. "As long as I stay busy it gives him less time to think about what he's going to do."

Taylor had little time to hear the opening bell ding, let alone think, before Hampp nearly tagged him with a heavy headshot. Hampp hit his stride in the third round, deftly dodging his opponents' punches while landing a few substantial shots.

Following the win, the servicemember said he's still knocking off some ring rust since he hasn't fought in more than a year, but that he'll take the win.

In a contrasting style, Lackland light welterweight Matthew McCoy was nearly perfect in the eyes of the judges during two tournament bouts, outpointing Zaire Naylor, Moody AFB, Ga., and Andrew Rodriguez, Austin AGAPE gym.

The Airman later referred to his second bout, which featured waves of flurries by his opponent, as "going to war."

More cautious than Hampp, McCoy opened his second bout with his jab, landing a few punches before having to cover against the barrage raining around his midsection and headgear.

McCoy entered the second round trading punches with his opponent, even withstanding a clean headshot during the melee that impressed Air Force boxing coach Steven Franco.

The tide turned as McCoy stung the Austin boxer with a right hook and, later, shooting a quick uppercut and hook that left the boxer bouncing on the ropes.

McCoy had Naylor in nearly the same position the previous night, dropping down to his left away from a punch before coming back across with a hook followed by a right.

"I feinted, he threw a one-two just like I thought he would and then slipped through and came up with the hook," he said.

Also winning two bouts in the competition, Lackland middleweight Chris Mann earned all judges' approval in his bouts against Carlos Padilla, San Marcos Bully Unit, and Patrick Huitfeldt, San Antonio Randazzo Brothers gym.

Against Padilla, he calmly sidestepped and ducked his opponent's attempts, becoming more aggressive in the second round. By the third, he was capitalizing on his opponents' low guard with clean shots to the face.

Others used the Box-offs as a learning tool.

In his first bout in eight years, welterweight Jose Gonzalez, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, outpointed Marcus Pena, Kirtland AFB, N.M., infighting against his taller opponent.

"I was just trying to get from side to side," he said.

Gonzalez successfully applied techniques learned from the training camp.

"Before, the way I fought was just go in, jab and throw quick punches," he said. "But, here, it's more of a slip and not get hit."

Splitting his bouts, Pena outpointed Ronnie Flemons, Hondo Alpha gym.

Taking losses, light heavyweight Chandra LeCompte, Pope AFB, N.C., Lackland heavyweight Richard Smith and light welterweight Kimberley Washington, Kadena AB, Japan, each at least walked away with experience.

Against Brittany Ordonez, Luna's San Antonio, Washington became increasingly comfortable, literally knocking her opponent's eye contact out and, in the third round, forcing her opponent into a standing eight-count.

"It felt pretty good to get an eight count," she said. "I was a little surprised that I didn't win, but it's all a learning experience."

Franco will amp up training in preparation for the Armed Forces Boxing Championships April 20-23 by increasing the intensity of runs and exercises while adding sparring contests with local boxers.

Advancing to Armed Forces are:

· Light welterweight Matthew McCoy and alternate Marcus Pena

· Welterweight Jose Gonzalez

· Light heavyweight Larry Hampp

· Heavyweight Richard Smith