Air Force Boxing Set for Wing Open Championships
Feb. 28, 2007
The finals of the 2007 Wing Open Tournament will take place on Friday, March 2, at 7 p.m., in Clune Arena. The competition, which is free to the public, will feature 11 bouts, ranging from 112- to 195-pounds.
The winners of the Wing Open will form the nucleus of the Air Force boxing team that will represent the Academy at the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) regional and national competitions. The Falcons, who are coached by Eddie Weichers and Capt. Erwin Vargas, have won 18 of 27 national titles and produced 96 national champions.
Let's take a look at this year's contenders by weight class...
The lightest weight class of the night features one of the most decorated Falcons on the current card. Two-time national champion senior Willie Lloyd is looking to become just the 11th boxer in Academy history to win four Wing Open titles. Standing in his way is sophomore Dean Chuva, who has advanced to the final round of action for the second straight season. Having not faced each other since last year's Wing Open finals, both boxers are undefeated on the season, as Lloyd holds a 4-0 mark and Chuva enters the ring with a 3-0 slate.
Senior Ezekiel Ignaco will look to regain his Wing Open title, after finishing second last year in the 125-pound bout. A Wing Open champion as a freshman and sophomore, Ignaco dropped to 119 pounds to fill the Falcons' void at that weight class and promptly picked up a national title. Ignaco will face newcomer Jesse Horton in this year's finals. Ignaco remains unbeaten at 4-0, while Horton is 4-2 on the season.
The 125-pound bout features a pair of newcomers to Clune Arena in sophomore Harvey White and freshman Matthew McPhail. It is one of just two bouts that feature two new contenders. White is currently 2-3 on the season, while McPhail holds a 1-2 regular season record. The twosome have met in the ring once before, as White took a referee-stopped-contest from McPhail during the Dec. 12 round of Friday Night Fights
There are new faces in both corners of the Falcons' 132-pound contest. Sophomore David Simon and freshman Alexander Shin are making their first appearance in the Wing Open finals. Like the previous two weight classes, these two boxers have not seen any action outside of sparring since the tournament began. Simon is even on the season with a 2-2 slate, while Shin (1-2) is looking to even out his ledger.
The 139-pound contest features last year's 132-pound Wing Open champion in sophomore Nicholas Goc, who moved up a weight class during the year to compete in the current weight division. As a freshman in 2006, Goc defeated the defending champion, a sophomore, en route to his first Wing Open title. This year, Goc's adversary is Seth Gunn, a freshman who hopes to follow his opponent's footsteps and claim a title of his own. Goc is a perfect 5-0 on the season, having defeated Gunn at the Dec. 8 Friday Night Fights - a victory that is Gunn's only loss of the year (4-1).
The 147-pound is the second of three rematches from last year's championship bout. Senior Jahmil Edwards, the defending Wing Open champion, will face off against a familiar foe in junior Ryan Price. The duo went three rounds in last year's championship bout, taking it to the very final bell. Edwards is 2-1 on the season, while Price is 2-3 on the year, although both contenders are 1-1 against their fellow cadets.
The 156 pound bout will feature a pair of boxers with experience in the main ring at Clune. Junior Clifford Moore won last year's title, while senior Mark Ruther was a finalist at 165 pounds. Now, Ruther has dropped a weight class and is ready to challenge
Senior Joe Conrad looks for his second Wing Open title, as he takes on junior James Dunn in the 165-pound match-up. It will be the second time this season this season that the two have met in the squared circle. Holding a perfect 7-0 record on the year, Conrad earned a decision from his younger opponent at the Jan. 12 Friday Night Fights. Dunn, who is 3-1 on the year, was a semifinalist in last year's tournament at 156 pounds.
Senior Evin Negron and junior Bruce Jamison meet for the second straight year in the championship round of the Wing Open. Negron earned the decision from Jamison in 2006, en route to his first Wing Open title. Although they haven't faced one another since that meet, they have a combined 5-0 slate against common opponents. Overall, Negron is 4-3 on the year, while Jamison holds an even 4-4 tab.
The 185-pound bout brings a pair of contradictions to center ring. Senior Colin LaFavor is wrapping up a four-year career, while sophomore Boyce Loomis is competing in just his fourth-bout ever. LaFavor, who was the 2006 runner-up at this weight class, earned back-to-back Boxer of the Week honors at the end of the season, and holds a 5-1 record on the year. And although Loomis is relatively new to the sport, he holds a perfect 3-0 record, including a decision over a semifinalist from last year.
Both contenders at 195 pounds have experience in the main ring. Senior Eric Garcia was the finalist at this weight class last year, while junior John Quinn was the heavyweight runner-up. Despite the heavyweight appearance, Quinn represented the Academy at 195 pounds in the post-season. This season, Quinn has compiled a 4-1 record, while Garcia is 4-2. The two have met up in the ring already this year, as Quinn took a decision from Garcia at the Dec. 1 round of Friday Night Fights.
Senior Ian Tuznik will claim his third Wing Open title in as many years, going unopposed due to a medical walkover by his would-be opponent. Tuznik, a co-captain of the Falcons' squad this season, is a two-time NCBA All-American and the defending regional and national champion.
LINEUP FOR WING OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
119-lbs.: Ezekiel Ignaco vs. Jesse Horton
125-lbs.: Harvey White vs. Matthew McPhail
132-lbs.: David Simon vs. Alexander Shin
139-lbs.: Nicholas Goc vs. Seth Gunn
165-lbs.: Joe Conrad vs. James Dunn
185-lbs.: Colin LaFavor vs. Boyce Loomis
195-lbs.: John Quinn vs. Eric Garcia
Hywt.: Ian Tuznik (unopposed)