A looping left hook from Haziz Self landed flush to his opponent’s jaw, buckling his knees as the referee stepped in to signal that the fight was over.
The third-round TKO brought the roaring crowd to its feet, highlighting a wildly successful annual event held by the Shippensburg University boxing team this past Saturday from Henderson Gymnasium.
“Overall I am very happy about the event,” Shippensburg coach Travis Wylie said. “I thought it went great for my fighters. Winning 5 out of 7 matches was impressive, and even our 2 losses were close but my fighters just ran out of steam.”
Twenty fights were scheduled, and seven schools came out to compete in the annual event. Fighters from Army, Navy, Penn State, West Virginia University, Lock Haven University, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Miami University of Ohio participated along with SU.
Five out of seven fighters for Shippensburg won their fights; the two that lost had never set foot in the ring before. All of the Raiders’ heavy hitters won their events, including an upset by senior Emily Appleman over national champion Shannon Reilley in the main event.
From the first punch thrown it was clear that the SU boxing club had put together something special for its fans. The fighters looked concentrated as they went through their warm-up routines, and the energetic crowd loudly voiced its approval as the fights commenced.
The first Raider to take the ring was female fighter Ada Ibe, fighting at 139 pounds against Navy boxer Portia Norkatis. Ibe, who battled hard in her first career match, came out in a fast-paced first round but looked fatigued by the final period and ultimately dropped the decision to her opponent.
Nafis Brown also debuted in the event, fighting at 130 pounds. As the crowd screamed his name the elusive boxer used great footwork and head movement to keep his opponent, UMass’s Andrew Cho, off balance. Brown ultimately lost the match, but showed heart and battled until the end despite showing signs of fatigue.
From that point on the Raiders did not drop a single fight.
Sophomore Brett Pastore was the third and final Raider to make his ring debut, taking on LHU’s Tim Ford three fights later. Pastore currently wrestles for Shippensburg, and has a background in Jiu-Jitsu. His fighting background clearly aided him, as he demonstrated excellent cardio and good ring awareness. His wrestling team fans screamed their approval as he scored a knockdown in the third round and backed his opponent into the ropes, pounding him with body shots as time expired. The judges awarded him the decision at 165 pounds.
“Brett impressed me because he boxed a very smart match and listened to everything I said in the corner,” Wylie said. “He made his first fight against an undefeated Army guy and looked like he was an open class fighter. I knew the guy he was fighting was tough and it wasn’t going to be easy, but he lived up to my expectations and executed great on fight night.”
The next Raider to set foot in the ring was Nate Sanders (1-2 NCBA East), who notched his first career knock out at Richmond, Virginia two weeks ago. Sanders took on WVU’s Sean Thrasher at 145 pounds, and seemed to hold a height and reach advantage as the two battled through the first two rounds. A decisive flurry of punches in the final period swayed the judges in his favor, as Sanders grabbed the win.
Self (3-1 NCBA East) took the ring next for Shippensburg, facing off against John Fiorill from LHU at 123 pounds. The fight looked to be an even match after the first round, and Self wore his opponent down in the second period. He found his opportunity at 1:31 in the final round, recording the event’s sole technical knock out to close out the victory.
“Haziz Self has been looking better and better every fight and is looking like a national championship quality boxing in the ring,” Wylie said. “He knocked his guy out and practically made it look easy. Haziz is a freshman and I truly feel he could be National Champion at 119 pounds this year.”
National qualifier Tylik Guilford (3-1 NCBA East) looked good against WVU’s Jeff Fuss at 165 pounds. It was a close battle that went the distance, but Guilford’s outstanding defensive footwork held off his opponent’s assault as the standout boxer recorded the win.
“In my opinion that was Tylik’s best match he’s ever boxed,” Wylie said. “He was calm and composed and was able to rip his shots off with fast, precise punches which we’ve been working on. His footwork looked great, and at no point in the fight did I feel that we were in jeopardy of losing the fight.”
Two fights later and it was time for the main event of the evening. Appleman (3-1 NCBA East), a silver medalist at nationals last season, took on 2013-14 national champion Reilley of WVU at 135 pounds. In an incredible show of endurance the two went toe-to-toe, splitting the first two rounds before Appleman landed a flurry of jabs and hooks that backed Reilley into the ropes. Appleman left it all out on the mat, beating her opponent with sheer will to close out the event.
“Emily had to fight a very tough opponent at nationals last year who ended up winning most outstanding boxer that tournament,” Wylie said. “Prior the Emily’s fight the girl had knocked everyone out and no fight lasted longer than 30 secondss. If we erase her first round, which was bad, Emily would be Naitonal Champ. In my eyes she’s the best pound for pound woman in all of college boxing, and she’s going to prove it this year at the National tournament.”
Source: Dave Barth, The Slate Online