Air Force and Navy Split 10-Card Bout in Season Opener
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force boxing team kicked off the 2004-05 season with a thrilling 10-bout match-up against Navy on Friday, Oct. 1. The Falcons and Mids each claimed five individual decisions amid a standing-room only crowd in the Upper Boxing Room of the Cadet Gym.
Juniors Lonnie Ash and Dathan Salgado collected the first two wins of the night for the Falcons, claiming decisions in their respective 145-pound and 139-pound weight classes. The Midshipmen turned around and earned victories at the 140-pound and 152-pound divisions. Senior Blake Baldi earned a victory at 150-pounds, while sophomore Joe Conrad earned a decision at 170-pounds. Navy collected three more wins in the 160-pound, 190-pound and heavyweight bouts, but senior Darren Smith ended the night with an Air Force victory in the 125-pound bout.
"It was a good experience for our team," head boxing coach Eddie Weichers said. "The matches were heated and the fans were appreciative of the heart and effort shown by both teams. It provided a lot to build on as we move into our fall competitions. Conditioning will be a point of emphasis with a priority on 'pacing the attack'. We're young, but talented and the senior leadership is excellent."
A crowd favorite was the sixth bout that pitted Air Force's Marcos Gonzales against Navy's Nick Carter. Gonzales got off to the fast start and earned a big win in the first round, while bloodying up Carter. After a check with the ringside trainer, the bout continued. Carter began to mount a comeback in the second round, while fatigue caught up with Gonzales. The fast, hard-hitting pace continued into the third round. As the final bell rang, Carter had earned the hard-fought, come-from-behind win.
The main event pitted two veteran boxers from last year's national championships against one another in the 125-pound weight class. Air Force captain Darren Smith, who earned the silver medal at the national tournament, took on Nick Tawill of Navy, who claimed the bronze last year. Although the two were in different brackets at the championships last year and did not meet on their way to the finals, it was a classic match-up between two "punchers" with a lot of experience. Despite Tawill's height and reach advantage over Smith, it was Air Force's senior who had the edge with speed and power. Both boxers showed a lot of respect in the first and second rounds with several combinations, but no telling blows. Smith opened up in the third round and landed several right and left hooks to win a hard fought split decision.
Congratulations to Blake Baldi, who was named the Academy's Boxer of the Week, after defeating Navy's Adrian Evangelista in a 150-pound contest. Evangelista was a slick left-handed counter puncher with good ring presence. Although Baldi controlled the pace in round one, he had trouble landing a solid shot on the elusive lefty. The second round saw Baldi working the body with hard right leads and slow Evangelista down. The bout was even going into the third round, but Baldi was relentless with his attack and with the Midshipmen fading, Baldi went on to earn the victory.
Air Force hosts the first Friday Night Fights of the season on Friday, Oct. 22. The first bout is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m., in the Cadet Gym Upper Boxing Room.
COMPLETE RESULTS FROM FRIDAY'S MATCH...
145-lbs. -- Lonnie Ash (Air Force) dec. Dan Leahey (Navy)
139-lbs. -- Dathan Salgado (Air Force) dec. Will Recalde (Navy)
140-lbs. -- Jeremy Biggs (Navy) rsc-3 James Baker (Air Force)
152-lbs. -- Fernando Garcia (Navy) dec. Colt Scheifelbein (Air Force)
150-lbs. -- Blake Baldi (Air Force) dec. Adrian Evangelista (Navy)
160-lbs. -- Nick Carter (Navy) dec. Marcos Gonzales (Air Force)
170-lbs. -- Joe Conrad (Air Force) dec. Brian Harp (Navy)
190-lbs. -- Chris Lonero (Navy) dec. Sean Mitchell (Air Force)
HYWT -- Dan Brendel (Navy) dec. Ian Tuznik (Air Force)
125-lbs. -- Darren Smith (Air Force) dec. Nick Tawill (Navy)