Foss graduate sidesteps hollering, eyes 5th title

Contributing writerMarch 1, 2014 

Tacoma Boxing Club coach Tom Mustin was direct with his statement to Nick Jefferson.

“You going to fight today, or do I have to holler at you?” Mustin barked to his pupil moments before Jefferson stepped between the ropes.

Both scenarios took place before Jefferson’s hand was raised.

Jefferson began his quest towards a fifth consecutive local championship with a three-round decision against Seattle’s Robel Biru in the 152-pound quarterfinals at the 66th annual Tacoma Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament Friday at the Al Davies Boys & Girls Club.

When asked if his victory went well, Jefferson, a Foss High School graduate, said: “Yes and no. I think I could have done a lot more, thrown a lot more punches, been a lot more active. I’m pleased with the win, but I should have done more.”

Jefferson, 21, was ranked second nationally in the 141-pound division last year, claiming the silver medal at the USA Boxing National Championships, and was a back-to-back local champion in the classification the past two years.

Unable to cut weight down to his usual class, Jefferson opted to move up a classification.

He relied on his quickness and speed to force a third-round standing eight count against Biru before appearing on the judge’s scorecards as a 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 winner.

“I tried to cut down to 141 but couldn’t make it,” said Jefferson, who also claimed 132-pound titles in 2010 and 2011. “So I tried to put on weight at the last minute. I felt loaded, kind of sluggish in there. You really don’t want to do that to your body, but the strength is so much more in 152.”

Jefferson will have to win two more fights to join a select fraternity of five-time local champions.

“He’s 152 from here on out in the Golden Gloves,” Mustin said.

Preliminary winners advance to Saturday’s card at the Tacoma Armory, which has an opening bell at 7 p.m.

While a majority of the bouts will be title fights, Jefferson will face Spokane’s Antonio Tessitore, a winner against Tacoma’s Kevin Torres, in the semifinals.

Because of a high number of participants, the 141-, 152- and 165-pound division championships will be contested Sunday at the Al Davies Boys & Girls Club.

“I’ve fought here for 13 years,” Jefferson said. “You want to think of it as just another fight, but it’s special to be in front of the hometown. It would mean a lot to say I was a five-time champion in Tacoma.”

Also advancing in the 152-pound division was defending champion Zakiah Hughes of Seattle, a winner against Gurinder Khabra.

Tacoma Golden Gloves champions advance to the West Regionals on March 15-16 in Las Vegas. Winners there secure spots in the national tournament, which also will take place in Las Vegas.

Hector Rendon, also of the Tacoma Boxing Club, moved closer to winning consecutive 132-pound titles with his 30-27, 30-27, 30-26 victory against Seattle’s Will Greenwood.

Greenwood was issued standing eight counts in the second and third rounds, the byproduct of Rendon’s jab and body shots.

“I thought the jab was working for me,” said Rendon, a 2013 Chief Leschi High School graduate. “I tried to be a crowd pleaser.”

Rendon will square off against Seattle’s Oscar Islas, who scored an upset against Tacoma’s Jerrell Barbour (29-28, 29-28, 30-26).

Barbour sought to become the tournament’s first six-time winner, having claimed five consecutive titles from 2008 to 2012.

“He came out on fire,” Mustin said about Barbour, “but once (Islas) put a little bit of pressure on him, he backed off.”

River Tucker, a 125-pound woman from British Columbia, had arguably the most impressive punch of the night, flooring Seattle’s Kiara Martinez midway through the first to pick up the TKO victory.

Everett’s Justin Dampac opened the card with a third-round TKO of Liam O’Brien of British Columbia in a 114-pound matchup.

Tacoma’s David Sandoval will face Leo Santos, a winner over Austin Zambrano, in the 123-pound finals.

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