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Allegheny Mountain Amateur Tournament: Round 1
By Longjab
January 21, 2006



(JAN 21)  On January 19, 2006, at the Greentree Radisson, the beginning round of the Allegheny Mountain Association Amateur Open Boxing Tournament began, lacking only one thing – more amateur women boxing matches; but, to my surprise, there was one 145-pound women’s match, just prior to the intermission that really caught this writer’s attention, when young Kelly Michel, who trains at The Martial Arts and Sports Complex from nearby Bridgeville, at the tender age of 15 years, stepped into the ring for already the second time in her very early amateur ring career, fighting out of the red corner.

Naturally, for Michel, she was nervous, since she was fighting for the first time in a year; but, nevertheless, she had to overcome those beginning ‘butterflies’ that all who dare to box have, during the beginning, but Michel did quite well, in spite of not getting the decision against another fine young woman boxer in Sherrice Smith, from Cleveland, Ohio, in the blue corner.

In a match that went the distance of three 2-minute rounds, these two young girls did not disappoint the enthusiastic crowd of supporters. There was only one critic of Michel’s performance – herself, when she was somewhat dejected, as if she let her family and friends down; but, to the contrary, there was no critic, other than Michel, herself. As a matter of fact, even Smith, who is trained by her dad, Donyelle Smith, congratulated and encouraged Michel to ‘keep on, keeping on’.

It was a gracious winner, consoling another gracious winner, since there is no loser, in anyone that dares to don a pair of boxing gloves and step inside, between the ropes.

Being that these two winners are very young, it is certain that they will meet again; and, with that said, all anyone can say is, “You go, girls!”

Allegheny Mountain Amateur Tournament: Round 2
JAN 19th GREENTREE – As far as the rest of the card went, the remaining 11 action-packed bouts were as follows:

The first bout of the evening was a championship match, between two 95-pound straw weights, with Michael Conway, from Carrick Community Boxing Academy walking away with the hardware, getting the decision over a tough Casey McCoy, from the West Allegheny Fighting Academy, in three 1-minute rounds.

The second bout was a semi-final match at 106 pounds, between Gerald Sherrell, from 3rd Avenue Boxing Gym and Dustin Newton, from Ellwood City, with Sherrell making short work of Newton, in a scheduled three 1-minute round match, when the referee stopped the contest early in the first round.

The third bout was at 178 pounds and scheduled for three 2-minute rounds, between John Senkinc of The Wolfpack Boxing Club and Brian Smith from Sharpsburg VFW, with Smith getting the decision.

The fourth bout was between two featherweights, at 125 pounds, with a tall, lanky Denzel Smith, coming all the way from the SABA, short for the Salvation Army Boxing Academy in Cleveland, Ohio, against a medallist and local favorite, Sean Conway, from Carrick, and scheduled for three 2-minute rounds. On this night, the taller Smith effectively used his reach advantage, establishing a jab that never let the shorter Conway get set or inside, thus giving Smith the decision.

As described earlier, the fifth and last bout before the intermission, was between two young ladies at 145 pounds, with Sherrice Smith, the sister of Denzel Smith, getting the decision over courageous Kelly Michel, a fifteen year old, from Wolfpack Boxing Club, in nearby Bridgeville, fighting in only her second amateur bout.

In spite of the decision, this writer was quite impressed with the performance of Michel, who already has extremely powerful legs, the likes of which are usually seen on professional women boxers, like Isra Girgrah or Melissa ‘Honey Girl’ Del Valle. According to her dad, Michel’s strong legs are a result of years of playing soccer, as well as some karate.

In time, Michel will only get better; and, at the age of 21, she could possibly find herself in London in the 2012 Olympics, fighting for the first time in female competition against the best women amateur boxers the world has to offer.

As for Smith, whom Donyelle Smith, her father, trains, she too could be in the same position, as an Olympian in 2012; but, in the meantime, the fighting Smith family reminds this writer of another boxing family – the battling Byrd family from Las Vegas, Nevada, with Chris Byrd, the IBF Heavyweight Champion, and Tracy ‘The Lady’ Byrd, fighting in the lightweight division.

It is just another example of the old adage of ‘Like father, like son’, with an additional adage of ‘Like brother, like sister’, which surely keeps Donyelle Smith busy.

The sixth bout of the evening, another championship match, was at 165 pounds and scheduled for three 2-minute rounds, between Garrett Jones, from the Wolfpack, and John Wilbur from Ellwood City, with Jones getting the decision.

The seventh bout, another championship match, at 138 pounds and scheduled for three 2-minute rounds, turned out to be a classic, but friendly rivalry, between two cross-town gyms, with Dean McKee from South Park Boxing Club against Scott Bradley from Carrick. This match gave a whole new meaning to the words, ‘Bombs away’, with Bradley getting the decision and the hardware, having left all his ‘ammunition’ in the ring.

The eighth bout was another championship match, at 152 pounds and scheduled for three 2-minute rounds, between Zac Kamikar of the Wolfpack and Shawn Hoberek from Washington Area, with Hoberek, being the busier boxer, getting the decision.

The ninth bout strangely looked like a mixed weight match, between a welterweight, Hausaan Burton from Cimino’s, weighing 145 pounds, and a middleweight, Vince Macellero from Carrick, weighing 154 pounds and scheduled for three 90-second rounds. The thicker Macellero manhandled the taller welterweight and got the decision.

The tenth bout was between the ‘big boys’, in the heavyweight division and scheduled for three 2-minute rounds, with Hayden Lutz (201+) from the Wolfpack ending it early, when he knocked out Jeff Cortez (201) from Ellwood City in the second round, when the referee stopped the contest shortly after Cortez landed on the canvas. Fortunately, Cortez was not seriously injured, but required some medical attention after being carried out of the ring, while a concerned Lutz looked on.

The eleventh bout was another championship match at 152 pounds, between Joe Washinski from Washington Area and Lou Zaccerelli from a gym simply known as James 5:16. This match was fairly close, with the smaller, but slick-skilled Zaccerelli making it interesting, but the reach advantage of the taller Washinski prevailed, getting the decision.

The final bout and main event of this first evening of open tournament action was a semi-final match at 165 pounds and scheduled for four 2-minute rounds, between Eric Harris of 3rd Avenue Boxing and Jack Maine of Ellwood City, with the taller, sharp shooting Harris disposing of Maine in the third round, when the referee stopped the contest.

In a post fight conversation with Harris, he told this writer that he was, “On a mission”, determined to, “Nail him”, as a result of some prefight trash talking, offered by Maine.

It was quite apparent that Harris let his fists do all his talking, in the ring.

With one night gone, there’s one to go; and until then, same time, same venue.

Allegheny Mountain Amateur Tournament: Round 3 

JAN 20th GREENTREE – On this second night of amateur boxing action, there was a scheduled women’s bout, between Ashlei Jaquay and Maryna Trusova, but, unfortunately, the bout had to be dropped; nevertheless, there were eight exciting matches this evening, which were the following:

The first bout was a match between Michael Conway from Carrick Community Boxing Academy and Rayco Saunders from Weightmasters Boxing Gym, scheduled for three 1-minute rounds, with Saunders getting the decision, fighting out of the blue corner.

The second bout was a championship match of heavyweights, between Hayden Lutz of the Wolfpack Boxing Club and a very young and tough Dan Borkowski of the West Allegheny Fighting Academy, scheduled for three 2-minute rounds. At first, the match looked like it was going to be ‘target practice’ for Lutz; but, in spite of sustaining a bloody nose, the 17-year-old Borkowski kept coming at Lutz, getting in his share of punches. At one point, late in the second round, Borkowski had Lutz in trouble, but Lutz managed to escape the onslaught, unscathed, as well as getting what turned out to be a close decision.

What made Borkowski’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he only started training four months ago, which he revealed to me shortly after the fight.

The third bout was another championship match at 178 pounds and scheduled for three 2-minute rounds, between Danté Hamilton from Carrick and Brian Smith from Sharpsburg VFW. This match was a ‘slugfest’ between Hamilton, the slugger, and Smith, the boxer, but the taller Smith managed to establish a stiff jab and was able to prevail, getting the decision; however, while I watched this match, it was apparent to me that Hamilton, with the power that he possesses, might have won this match easily, if he were able to switch to a southpaw stance suddenly.

After the fight, I found out that Hamilton does, indeed, possess that ability, but was advised not to use it in the match. If he were to use it regularly, it would make him an extremely dangerous opponent for any fighter that would step in the ring with him.

The fourth bout was also a championship match at 101 pounds and scheduled for three 1-minute rounds between Johnathon Young of Carrick and Gerald Sherrell of 3rd Avenue Boxing Gym. These two young boys displayed a great deal of speed, as they exchanged a flurry of punches, but Sherrell got in a few more punches, as well as the decision; but, then again, with a rather enthusiastic cheering section of one person, presumably his mother, Sherrell couldn’t lose. J

The last bout before intermission was a match at 152 pounds and scheduled for three 2-minute rounds, between Zac Kamikar of the Wolfpack and Mike Shrekengoss of West Allegheny, but this one was over in the first round, when Shrekengoss pummeled Krimakar with a flurry of punches that prompted the referee to stop the contest, giving Shrekengoss the match. 

During the intermission, I had the pleasure to meet a newcomer to the ‘sisterhood of boxing’, when Bob Healy, the coach of South Park Boxing Club, had introduced me to Kelli Phipps, who just started training recently at South Park.  

Phipps is in her freshmen year at Duquesne University. I asked her in what weight division was she going to fight, prompting a rather peculiar look on her face before she said, “Well, I weigh about 120 pounds”. I said, “Oh, you’re a featherweight”. Looking somewhat relieved, Phipps replied, “Ooh! That, at least, sounds light”. I then explained the breakdown of weight divisions to her and offered to provide her a list of them for her reference, which she appreciated.

Being that Phipps is only 18 years of age, she has started training at a good time, since she will have plenty of time to enjoy her participation in the sport of boxing, with ample time as an amateur before she decides to become a professional boxer. By that time, Phipps or her trainer will come up with a suitable moniker for her. 

Welcome to the ‘sisterhood’ of boxing, Kelli. May you enjoy it, with lots of love and punches. 

The sixth bout of the evening was a classically scientific and friendly ‘scrap’, a rematch between a welterweight and a middleweight, that are frequent sparring partners, scheduled for four 2-minute rounds. Nationally ranked Mike Strauss from the Wolfpack Boxing Club, fighting out of the red corner, squared off against Jesse Lubash from South Park, fighting out of the blue corner. I wanted to call this match ‘The Battle of the Shoulders’, since these two were exchanging a lot of shoulders in between their exchange of punches while going at it, toe-to-toe. At one point, during their close encounter, just as the referee was about to separate them, Lubash came under Strauss’ right shoulder and accidentally lifted Strauss off his feet; but upon realizing what was happening, Lubash lowered him. This match was, to me, too close to call, but Strauss got the decision.

The seventh bout was a semi-final match at 178 pounds and scheduled for four 2-minute rounds between Jimmy Lubash, also from South Park, against Ryan Covert from Butler Cubs. This match also turned out to be a classic or epic battle, with the taller Covert getting a close decision.

The eighth and final bout of the evening was a championship match at 165 pounds and scheduled for four 2-minute rounds, between two gym partners, John Fairly and Eric Harris, both from the 3rd Avenue Boxing Gym. This match was a boxer-slugger confrontation, between the taller Harris, as the boxer, and Fairly, as the slugger, with Fairly trying to overcome Harris’ distinct reach advantage, in order to work the body of Harris, but, in the heat of battle, during close encounters, Fairly, unfortunately, was landing his blows a bit below the belt, with Harris having to shake a few of them off, while the referee deducted points from Fairly, which, in the end, secured the decision in Harris’ favor.  

In conclusion, this 2-day tournament had presented a total of twenty action-packed bouts.

Many kudos to all those that participated, especially those that were really responsible for this tournament, including Craig and Faith Wolfley, who supplied the ring for the event, and the excellent choice of venue for it, The Greentree Radisson.

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