Rojas hopes to have something to talk about in Vegas

Contributing writerMarch 2, 2014 

Just keep working the jab.

That thought echoed inside Edward Rojas’ head despite blood starting to flow from his nose.

That mindset, installed by his coach, Tom Mustin of the Tacoma Boxing Club, paid off for Rojas.

Despite blood remaining on his face after the bout, the beaming smile on Rojas face was far more noticeable.

Rojas captured the 114-pound championship with a three-round decision over Arlington’s Justin Dampac at the 66th Annual Tacoma Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament Saturday at the Tacoma Armory.

“The jab sets up everything,” said the 16-year-old Rojas, a sophomore at Clover Park High School. “It was definitely working for me tonight.”

Rojas, fighting in his first Golden Gloves tournament, appeared on the judge’s scorecards as the 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 winner.

“It was a war,” Rojas said. “I just listened to my coach. How many kids can say they are trained by an Olympic boxing coach every day?”

Mustin, the coach for USA Boxing at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, will now join Rojas, along with all the local champions, in Las Vegas for the West regionals March 15-16.

“I’m beyond excited about moving on to regionals. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” Rojas said.

“Unless you win a championship, then you want people to know about it.”

Winners at the West regionals advance to the National Golden Gloves tournament in April, which also in Las Vegas.

Joining Rojas at the West regionals will be Tacoma Boxing Club teammate David Sandoval, who claimed the 123-pound crown with a third-round stoppage of Leo Santos.

It is Sandoval’s second local title, having also won the 114-pound division in 2010.

“It’s been a while. It’s nice to finally get another one,” Sandoval said. “I wasn’t really thinking I’d knock him out. I was able to see him fight (Friday during the preliminary bouts). I think that helps. You don’t always get to see your opponent and have to figure things out pretty quick.”

The 132- and 152-pound division titles will be decided at noon today at the Al Davies Boys and Girls Club.

Seattle’s Oscar Islas will face Kenny Guzman in the 132-pound finals, while Tacoma’s Nick Jefferson squares off against Spokane’s Antonio Tessitore at 152.

Islas advanced to the finals with a walkover victory after opponent Hector Rendon, the defending champion, failed to make weight.

Guzman advanced by defeating Luis Alvarado, 30-27, 29-28, 30-27.

Jefferson, looking to win a fifth consecutive local championship, looked sharp during his semifinal win over Arlington’s Manuel Ramos, 30-27, 30-27. 30-26.

Tessitore put away Seattle’s Zakiah Hughes, last year’s divisional champion, in the other 152-pound semifinal, winning 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.

Boxers from British Columbia had a strong showing as they posted three wins on the card with River Tucker, Jag Seehra and Alexandra Strickland notching victories.

Tucker defeated Lindsey Hanson in a 125-pound women’s bout and Seehra took the 141-pound division with a victory over Yonny Rubio (30-27, 30-26, 30-25).

Strickland prevented Wenatchee’s Griselda Madrigal from winning consecutive 141-pound titles for women by sweeping the scorecards 40-36 in their four-round title bout.

Auburn’s Jorge Villa claimed the 165-pound title, while Tacoma Boxing Club’s Dugan Lawton took home the 178-pound championship.

It marked the first time in more than five decades the Tacoma Golden Gloves was held at the Tacoma Armory.

The building hosted the inaugural event in 1949 and stayed there for almost a decade before moving on to the University of Puget Sound Memorial Fieldhouse and later the Tacoma Dome Convention Center.

“This is where it all started,” Tacoma Golden Gloves committee chairman Greg Plancich said about the second-longest continuous Golden Gloves tournament in the United States. “Getting back to our roots was a big reason we’re here.

“The location was also a reason. The building’s owners are really dedicated to this community. We love this venue. We want to be here long term.”

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