Lackland Air Force Base, Texas —
It was a big night for the U.S. Army Boxing Team.
Eight Army boxers won bouts within their respective weight divisions during the 2007 U.S. Armed Forces Boxing Championship finals March 9 at Bennett Fitness Center on Lackland AFB.
Army also took first place in the team standings with 20 points, counting points won during the preliminary phase of the championship March 7.
Air Force and Marine Corps boxers both earned just three points, and Navy totaled only one point as the Soldiers dominated the competition.
"We boxed well," said Basheer Abdullah, the Army head boxing coach. "We trained hard for this event. We knew how important it was."
Army boxers Christopher Downs, Adrian Ghisoiu, Joe Guzman, Zachaeus Hardwick, Boyd Melson, Alexis Ramos, Andrew Shepherd and James Villa all won their bouts.
Downs, Guzman, Hardwick, Melson, Shepherd and Villa came from Fort Carson, Colo., Ghisoiu came from Fort Hood, and Ramos from Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Downs fought Gilbert Shangoo from the Navy SERE School at Pax River, Md., in the light heavyweight (178 pounds) division. Downs did nothing to take him down from his No. 1 ranking by USA Boxing. He beat Shangoo after the referee stopped the contest late during the second round. Earlier during the round, Downs forced Shangoo to take two eight counts.
"He is one of the nation's best," Abdullah said.
One of the most interesting bouts of the evening was the middleweight (165 pounds) clash between Hardwick and Mylin Wyche from Naval Construction Battalion 25, Chicago.
Midway through Round 1, an annoyed referee made Hardwick return to his corner and get his shoelaces re-tied. The tall southpaw came back and fought Wyche evenly through Round 2. Hardwick hit Wyche hard and made him take an eight count during Round 3. During Round 4, the referee stopped the contest after Hardwick stunned Wyche with a right hook in the corner seconds before the round was finished.
"(Hardwick) was throwing single shots early," Abdullah recalled. "He started putting combinations together in the later rounds. He is still young. He allows his opponents to get inside a little too much. We have to work on that."
As expected, Ghisoiu, Guzman, Melson, Ramos, Shepherd and Villa all won by decision after four rounds.
Ghisoiu defeated Robert Castillo from Marine Corps Air Station, New River, N.C., in the light flyweight (106 pounds) division.
Guzman defeated Erick Earvin from the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C., in the heavyweight (201 pounds) division.
Melson defeated Andre Penn from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., in the welterweight (152 pounds) division.
Ramos defeated Eugene Marques from RAF Mildenhall, England, in the bantamweight (119 pounds) division.
Shepherd defeated Juan Hernandez from Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, Calif. in the super heavyweight (201 pounds and up) class.
Villa defeated Robert Rocha from Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, in the lightweight (132 pounds) division.
Also for Army, John Franklin from Fort Carson went unopposed and won the gold medal for the flyweight (112 pounds) class.
Only two boxers from a branch other than Army won their title bouts.
Rosey Summerville from Shaw AFB, S.C., defeated Christopher Munar from Fort Carson in the featherweight (125 pounds) division. Summerville worked patiently, threw several skillful combinations and jabs and won by decision after four rounds.
"He was really strong," Summerville recalled about Munar. "He took some really good punches."
Samuel Martinez from Camp Lejeune defeated Adam Fusinato from Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Fla., in the light welterweight (141 pounds) division. The Marine southpaw slipped inside, drilled Fusinato with several quick, straight left-handed body punches and prevailed by decision after four rugged rounds.
"I just had to go after it," Martinez recalled. "I moved to my right, and he was expecting me to go to my left. It was a close fight."
About 600 civilians and military personnel attended the event, as well as 200 basic trainees.
All of the Armed Forces Boxing Championship winners are now eligible to compete in the U.S. Championships this June in Colorado Springs, Colo., as well as the U.S. Olympic Trials this August at a site to be determined. Also, they are eligible to represent the U.S. armed forces in the Conseil International du Sport Militaire Games this October in India.
Olympic qualifiers will compete in the XXIX Olympic Games next August in Beijing.