The ring is set, at least it will be Sunday in Clune Arena for
the annual Wing Boxing Open beginning at 6 p.m. It is one of the best athletic events in
Colorado Springs. It's a show both inside and outside the ring that attracts thousands of fans.
The Open serves as a prelude to intercollegiate competition on a regional and national level. Open winners advance to regional competition. The regional winners advance to the Nationals and a chance to win a gold medal. Air Force's program is considered to be the best in the country. Proof of that is winning 14 of the last 21 national team titles.
It is a classy show enjoyed by everyone. Cadets, in formal military attire, usher the spectators to their seats while the Cadet Drum and Bugle Corps play the "Gillette Fight Song" and
the theme from "Rocky." The ring announcer is ushered
into the arena riding a Harley.
Once the action starts, fans root for their favorite boxers. This year's card features 11
bouts including four boxers who fought on last year's national championship team.
In the history of the Open, only eight cadets have made their mark by winning the title four consecutive years. C1C Joel Rivera is assured of becoming the ninth in the 119-pound weight class.
Rivera is the boxing team's captain who is going unopposed in the Open. Boxing
coach Eddie Weichers, Jr. describes Rivera as a "ring-wise boxer who is technically sound." Rivera is a four-time boxing All-American with two bronze medals and a silver. He will advance to
regionals with a quest to make it to nationals and win his first gold medal.
"Joel has all the moves and just wears opponents down with his strength and talent," said Weichers. "It's a shame the Cadet Wing, local fans and Joel's family will not get an opportunity to see him in action in the Open finals."
Joining Rivera is C2C Adam Roberts who won an Open title last year in the 112-pound
division and won a silver medal at Nationals. Roberts is moving up to the 125-pound division and
will face C4C Jeb Fredrickson. Weichers expects Fredrickson's jab and good one-two combinations to counter Roberts overall experience in the ring.
In the 185-pound division, C1C John Pantages is defending his title. Pantages fought at 175-pounds last year. He will be facing C1C Mike Thompson. Both are experienced boxers. Thompson placed second in last year's open and was a very determined boxer in the Wing semifinal matches.
C2C Dustin Brown won both the Open title and National title last year at 195-pounds. Weichers describes Brown as a "stylish boxer who has all the punches, speed and power." His challenger is C3C Chris Hart who finished second in last year's matches in the 185-pound division. Hart has gained both size and strength during this past year and is a technically sound boxer, according to Weichers.
The other matches on the card include: C1C Chris Geisel and C2C
Eamon Murray at 132-pounds; C1C Gerardo Sanchez and C3C Luis Palacios at
139-pounds; C3C Frankie Woods, Jr. and C3C Ulysses Linares at 147-pounds; C2C Tommie Cisar and C4C Clell Knight at 156-pounds; C2C Joseph Harding and C1C Mike Pontius at 165-pounds; C1C Aaron Banks and C1C Brandon Tellez at 175-pounds; C1C Lee Poage and C1C Derek Argel in the heavyweight division.
There is no admission to the Open; however, donations are sought
for a charitable cause.