JCAC boxing team excels in home event

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   The Johnson City Athletic Club accomplished two goals this past weekend at the Carver Recreation Center.
   It created a packed-house atmosphere for its 69th annual Upper East Tennessee Golden Gloves tournament and put on an award-winning show for the quality of fighting and its team's performance.
   It featured 21 different teams from across the country, and by the night's end the host Johnson City Athletic Club had a lot to smile about.
   "We had great success this weekend, we had a great turnout to see the fighting take place and our kids fought super all tournament long," said Johnson City Athletic Club boxing coach Scott Vance. "The quality of fighters that came through this tournament was unreal."
   By winning 13 out of 16 scheduled matches they competed in, Johnson City walked away acquiring more team points than any other team entered.
   Johnson City dropped two matches on Friday, and just one on Saturday, which says a lot about the program it has with all the competition it had to face.
   "We gave the trophy for team performance to Lima, Ohio because we didn't think it was right for us to accept the award, with us being the one who was hosting the tournament," said Vance. "We actually had more team points than anybody else, but those guys did a great job and traveled so far to compete that we thought they deserved the award."
   The 2002 Jr. Silver Gloves national champion, Randell Winteroff, was one of fighters Johnson City had to showcase.
   Winteroff took on Matthew Diaz from Augusta, Ga., where he won a unanimous decision in the Junior Olympic 132-pound weight class.
   "I hadn't been training and was out of shape for this fight. I got sick and then went on vacation through the holiday season, so I wasn't at my very best tonight," said Winteroff. "I didn't even know I was going to fight until tonight."
   Winteroff, who will now set his sights on the upcoming Jr. National Golden Gloves event in June, displayed a combination of defensive skills and counter punching.
   "I plan to start training hard for that event, and as long as I can keep after it I think I have a real good shot in winning it," said Winteroff.
   Another fighter who will be heading to the nationals from Johnson City is Guilles Alberto, who beat the national champion Adam Davis from Birmingham, Alabama.
   This fight was voted the most outstanding fight of the night after the two fighters put on a great show, which ended in a close decision.
   Alberto came back from a knockdown after he was caught off balance backpedaling during the second round.
   A flurry of combinations and being able to slip punches off the ropes enabled Alberto to get the win and qualify for the national event.
   "He didn't hurt me when he hit me, and that was why I immediately jumped back up," said Alberto. "I think it was my best performance and my coach told me if I beat him that I would qualify for the nationals because he was a national champion."
   In the novice super-heavyweight division, it was Larry Hardin of Elizabethton who walked away with the title.
   Hardin, a 1993 graduate of Elizabethton High School, has been involved in the sport of boxing on and off for the past seven years.
   "I think I was at 100 percent tonight," said Hardin. "I just kept on working my jab and getting to the open spot."
   Hardin was voted as the best fighter in the novice class, and now he's looking forward to stepping up his effort when he competes in the Southern Regional tournament.
   "I love to fight because it keeps me on the down-low when I'm outside the ring," said Hardin. "I'm having a great time fighting and I encourage any kid to get involved. It keeps you out of trouble and off the streets."
   Some other winners out of the Johnson City camp included Charles Watson in the Junior Olympic 119-pound class, in which he defeated Brent Messer of Lima, Ohio.
   Josh Malone defeated Marcus Simpson of Lima, Ohio in the Junior Olympic 65-pound class, while Blayton Watson came on with flurries in the second and third rounds to get the decision over Josh Davenport of Lima, Ohio.
   Patrick Wilson came out strong in the third round and executed his offense off the counter to win the Junior Olympic 70-pound division over Julian Mendoza of North Wilkesboro, N.C.
   It was Dallas Stewart winning the 201-pound open division after handing opponent Willie Moss of Chattanooga a standing eight count in the third round and giving him a taste of the canvas in the fourth.
   "We're really excited here. We have three kids who we expect to see good things from," said Vance. "Charles Watson, Randall Winteroff and Dillon Dawson all have a great chance to be able to compete in the 2008 Olympics."