Regional Golden Gloves boxers ready for Saturday

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Regional Golden Gloves boxers ready for Saturday

March 11, 2011
Ryan Maquiana
CSNBayArea.com

The 2012 London Games are just around the corner, and boxing fans across America will soon be introduced to the next crop of future stars at next years U.S. Olympic Trials.

This Saturday marks the first step toward anointing the next Andre Ward, as San Franciscos Fight and Fitness Club plays host to the Region 11 Golden Gloves Championship, which will pit some of the best amateurs of Northern California against their Central California counterparts.

The winners will move on to April 2s State Golden Gloves Tournament in Vacaville, whose victors will fight in the National Golden Gloves Tournament in Indianapolis on April 25. It is here where the ultimate champions of each weight division will automatically earn one of the eight coveted spots for the 2012 Olympic Trials.

Among the diverse group of hopefuls to watch include an accomplished Starbucks barista, a converted martial artist, and a former cast member of MTVs Road Rules.
Jose Ramirez, Avenal

As an unofficial halfway point between the Bay Area and Southern California, Kettleman City has become a pivotal rest stop for the weary traveler looking for a rejuvenating jolt of caffeine before continuing the journey down I-5.

What most coffee aficionados might not know is that the guy behind the counter making their caramel macchiatos is the defending national champion at lightweight.

I really don't mention boxing, unless they happen to recognize me and they bring up the subject, says Jose Ramirez of nearby Avenal.

The 18-year-old isnt as anonymous in boxing circles anymore after his magical run through the 132-pound field at the 2010 U.S. Nationals. After winning gold, Ramirez has become a prime candidate to don the Stars and Stripes in London next year.

My goal is to make the Olympic team, win a gold medal, and then turn professional, he said. It would be an honor for me to represent my community and my country with pride.

Ramirez has a lot on his plate. In addition to his barista duties at Kettleman City and training with Armando Mancinas, he somehow finds time to commute to Fresno State, where he attends freshman classes three days a week.

However, dont look for any excuses on Joses end as he marches toward Saturdays showdown with former Philippine national team member Adam Fiel of Vacaville.

I dont really feel the pressure of having a target on my back. I just prepare myself well for all my bouts because I know other good athletes in my weight class are doing the same, said Ramirez.

Joses got a great work ethic, said trainer Armando Mancinas. Youd think after winning nationals that hed slack off a little bit, but now hes more dedicated to his training and schooling than ever before.
Andy Vences, San Jose
Longtime San Jose PAL head coach Candy Lopez has been around the amateur scene longer than all of his current fighters have been alive. When he singles out someone for special mention, its worth a listen.

Andy Vences is a good one, Lopez tells me, pointing to the 141-pounder firing off combinations on the heavy bag. He has some great potential if he can put it all together.

Vences, a nearby Lincoln High graduate who currently attends San Jose City College, has fought his way from practicing kung-fu to becoming a nationally-ranked light welterweight, a reputation he will seek to uphold when he faces Vicente Guzman of Tulare.

Supposedly hes an aggressive fighter coming at me, said Vences. Were focusing on boxing by using the jab and giving him angles.

Much like Ramirez, Vences balances a job in addition to his studies and gymwork, helping pay for his tuition with a job at Subway. As a result, the 19-year-old has exhibited a maturity that has served him well both in and out of the ring.

Its a pretty long road ahead to the Olympics, he said. I think about it as a step-by-step process, and the more you sweat in the gym, the less you bleed in the ring.
Darrell Taylor, Sacramento

Its not often youll find someone willingly give up television stardom for the sights and smells of the dingy boxing gym. For Darrell Taylor, however, the transition to relative anonymity was just what he needed.

Ive been boxing since I was 12, said the 31-year-old, who starred on MTVs Road Rules. But then I was doing shows, drinking and partying, and I got sidetracked with my focus.

Taylor can be hardly be classified as a novice to the sport. Under the tutelage of his uncle, former pro Manny Fernandez, he learned the ropes and found himself sparring with the likes of Andre Ward at Oaklands Kings Gym in 1999.

Andre used to whup my ass real bad, Taylor said, laughing. But I eventually got better.

Alas, the cameras came calling and Taylor put his boxing career on hold until recently, when he hooked up with Sacramento trainer Seifudeen Mateen and fought well enough to earn his spot in Saturdays regional final against Tulares Ruben Mendoza.

Hes a good boxer-puncher with a powerful right hand, said Mateen. With his TV background, he doesnt lack confidence, and hes a winner.

Perhaps Taylors decision to return to the ring is a testament to his renewed resolve as a person as well.

Ive turned down two reality show offers from MTV for this shot at the Olympics, he shared. I realized Im getting too old for that stuff. Ive never had the discipline before to train for four straight months, so I guess you can say Im back to my first love.

Instant Replay: Warriors erase early woes for big win vs Spurs

Instant Replay: Warriors erase early woes for big win vs Spurs

BOX SCORE

The Warriors won their ninth consecutive game, and this one was profoundly more significant than the previous eight.

With a 110-98 win over the Spurs at AT&T Center in San Antonio Wednesday night, the Warriors took a giant step closer to achieving their goal of the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs.

They now lead the Spurs by 3.5 games in the Western Conference. The magic number is five, meaning any combination of Warriors wins or San Antonio losses adding up to five would give the Warriors (61-14) the top seed throughout.

Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Klay Thompson tossed in 23, David West a season-high 15 and Andre Iguodala 14 as the Warriors, coming off a win at Houston on Tuesday, swept the toughest back-to-back set of the season.

Kawhi Leonard paced the Spurs (56-17) with 19 points, on 7-of-20 shooting. The Warriors offset a 42-34 rebounding disadvantage by limiting San Antonio to 41-percent shooting.

STANDOUT PERFORMERS

Curry carried a large measure of the scoring load, but Iguodala and West had terrific all-around games that included timely scoring.

Curry’s line: 29 points (9-of-20 shooting from the field, 4-of-8 from deep, 7-of-7 from the line), 11 assists and three rebounds. He played 35 minutes and finished plus-6.

Iguodala’s line: 14 points (6-of-9, 2-of-3 from deep), six rebounds, two steals and one assist. He played 30 minutes and was plus-17.

West’s line: 15 points (7-of-11, 1-of-2 from deep), five assists, four rebounds and two blocks. He played 22 minutes and finished plus-23.

TURNING POINT

When the Spurs went up 43-29 on a jumper by Kawhi Leonard with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter, the Warriors went on a 16-2 run to pull into a 45-45 tie on a Shaun Livingston jumper with 3:29 left in the half.

That wiped out a deficit that had ranged as high as 22 points.

The Warriors took the lead for good 80 seconds into the second half. San Antonio got no closer than five in the fourth quarter.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: F/C James Michael McAdoo (L eyebrow laceration) was listed as probable and made available. F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, bone bruise) and F Kevon Looney (R hip strain) were listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Spurs: G Dejounte Murray (L groin strain) was listed as out.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Friday night, when they close out their season series with the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.

Durant gets taste of competition, plays 1-on-1 with Warriors coach

Durant gets taste of competition, plays 1-on-1 with Warriors coach

For the first time in a month, Kevin Durant got a taste of competition. Well, sort of.

Durant on Wednesday went through one-on-one sessions with Warriors assistant coach Willie Green, who is two years removed from a 12-year career as a guard in the NBA.

“He played full-court one-on-one, played some half-court one-on-one to start and then they stepped it up,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters prior to the Warriors-Spurs game in San Antonio. “Willie said it was a good workout.”

Durant and Green played five games of half-court ball and one with the full court. The active player, for the record, won all six games.

“Kevin got him pretty good, so it’s a good sign,” Kerr said before flashing a bit of humor. “If Willie had beaten him, I would have been very concerned.”

An even better sign for the Warriors is that only one man walked away feeling the burn of competition.

“Willie said he was really sore,” Kerr said. “Not Kevin. Willie.”

Durant has been out since sustaining a medial collateral ligament sprain and bone bruise to his left knee on Feb. 28 at Washington. Though there have been no setbacks in his rehab, there is no firm timetable for his return.

“It’s impossible to predict that stuff,” Kerr said. “But it would be nice for him to get a couple games in at the end of the regular season.”

The Warriors plan to re-evaluate Durant next week, after which they expect to plot out his return. There is optimism that he could be back in time to play two or three regular season games in preparation for the postseason, which begins April 15.