On Saturday night, the boxers of the UC Berkeley Boxing Club, or Cal Boxing, celebrated their 100-year anniversary the only way they knew how — by fighting. They tested their skills against fighters from several West Coast Region universities, including the University of Washington, the University of San Francisco, UC Davis and Santa Clara Univeristy.
In the end, Cal Boxing’s members won in six out of their seven total fights at Haas Pavilion, and fans got to experience firsthand why this organization is still going strong even after a full century.
Cal’s Vivian Chuang got things headed in the right direction to begin the night, beating UW’s Renada Walcome in a 123-pound bout. Chuang quickly exploited a weakness in her opponent’s defense, and established the jab early on in the first round. Walcome sent a flurry of jabs herself, but Chaung was able to keep her composure, utilizing the jab to keep her opponent at bay. This strategy allowed Chuang to pick up a unanimous decision victory, foreshadowing the great night Cal Boxing would have.
Cal’s 132-pounder Eric Pan followed the success of Chuang and won unanimously in his bout against USF’s Anthony Nguyen.
But the first really exciting fight of the night came in Cal Boxing’s third bout, when 132-pounder Sunny Bae stepped in the ring against a much taller opponent in USF’s Luke Haley. Bae reacted to the height of Haley by adopting a brilliant strategy: attacking the body, weakening his opponent and getting open head shots.
The hard body shots from Bae flustered Haley, which only allowed Bae to land hook shots on his opponent’s head. It all worked out for Bae in the end, as he was able to continue the team’s streak by picking up another unanimous decision victory.
“I felt like going to the body definitely worked, once I saw him getting tired I saw him lowering his gloves so I kept working that,” Bae said. “I think I could have pushed harder, but overall I stuck to the plan and listened to what the coach told me, and I got a ‘W’ so it turned out for the best.”
The fight of the night, however, came when Cal’s 175-pounder Benjamin Kaveladze stepped into the ring against UC Davis’ Anthony Mayberry.
The crowd was able to see early on in the fight that Kaveladze packed plenty of power behind his punches, most notably when it came to his hooks. And every single one of his punches flustered Mayberry.
Despite this, Mayberry showed no quit, responding with counterpunches that more times than not found their target, leading to the end of a close first round. Mayberry took the opportunity to be the aggressor in the second round, and instantly started with a series of punches that landed.
But in the end all of it served no purpose, and Kaveladze’s power was just too much for Mayberry to handle.
All it took to end the fight was a single left hook by Kaveladze to Mayberry’s jaw, dropping him to the canvas and forcing the knockout after he was unable to fully recover before a 10-second countdown.
After the fight Kaveladze was at a loss for words.
“It was completely ridiculous because I was totally resigned to losing that fight,” Kaveladze said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more dramatic than that.”
This was the most memorable victory for Cal Boxing on Saturday night, but it was far from being the club’s last. Cal’s Brent Scheidemantle (165 pounds) and Jarred Mendoza (183 pounds) were also able to taste victory Saturday night, making the historic night for Cal Boxing even sweeter.
The strong night only proves that Cal Boxing’s title as the longest continuously established collegiate boxing program in the nation is something it’ll keep for a long time.
Many believe that the sport of boxing has been on the decline, and is close to being dead if it’s not already. But at Cal, boxing is far from dead, and it won’t be anytime soon.
“It’s a good community to be a part of, the coaches try to push you to be the best you can be,” Bae said. “I’m proud and honored to represent Cal; I never thought I would get to say that but here I am.”
Source: Alex Quintana, dailycal.org