By Eric Butler: FNM correspondent
CLOVIS — While much attention has been turned toward mixed martial arts, in the world of fighting competitions, amateur boxing in New Mexico still has its followers.
The state Golden Gloves championships began in Clovis with 93 competitors signed up for the various age and weight divisions. In the open categories, fighters are hoping to win state titles and move to the next round to face champion counterparts from Colorado.
“This is the most we’ve had in years and years,” said John Van Sickler, Golden Gloves director of operations, of the number of entries for the state championships. “I bet we haven’t had this many for the past 10, 15 years.”
On Friday night, the opening day of the tournament, 17 fights were staged at the Roy Walker Community Center.
The number of pugilists at the 152-pound open division meant that three opening-round fights were staged. At times, in the past few years, a lack of entries has sometimes meant that only one fight – the championship fight – was held in some weight classifications.
At 152 pounds, Gabino Armijo of Portales decisioned Clovis’ Kevin Mah in his three-round bout.
“I scrimmaged him (Mah) in our boxing gym,” said Armijo, who trains in Clovis but also has experience fighting in the west Texas region of Golden Gloves. “It doesn”t matter to me who I fight. Next year, I’ll drop down to 141, but I didn’t hit it this time because I was at 147.”
Other winners in Armijo’s class were Albuquerque’s Alejandro Lopez, who beat Clovis’ Edilberto Gonzalez in a decision, and Arturo Crespin of Las Vegas, who won a decision over Roswell’s Lazaro Dominguez.
At 112 pounds, Albuquerque’s Suanitu Hogue defeated Telford Harrison of Four Corners boxing club. Hogue, formerly of Fruitland, said he was familiar with Harrison only to an extent.
“He’s a very good friend of mine, but we haven’t sparred or fought at any time in the past,” Hogue said. “I didn’t think he’d be at 112, so it was kind of weird.”
Albuquerque’s Vincent Mirabal, in one of the most entertaining fights of the night, decisioned Espanola’s Antonio Martinez at 141 points. Mirabal advanced to the championship of the same weight class last year and lost in a decision to Hobbs’ Edgar Zubia, who trains in Clovis.
“Last year, I fought all three nights, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and lost to Zubia,” said Mirabal, 18. “I want to get as far as I can get in Golden Gloves this year, because after this I’m going to turn pro.”
At 165 pounds, Albuquerque’s Carlos Sanchez TKO’d Andrew Tapia of Clovis after sending his opponent to his knees with a second-round shot.
“That one is my special punch — the right hook,” Sanchez said. “That one is a hard one.”
Siju Shabazz of Las Cruces won his opening bout at 178 pounds, scoring a TKO over Albuquerque’s Jay Salazar in the second, while Gary Kavanaugh did the same to fellow Albuquerquean Josh Roberts in the super-heavyweight division.
The next round of super-heavyweights, those at 201 pounds or over, will also include Clovis’ Elijio Sena — a winner by decision over Ryan Gomez of Albuquerque.
More boxing is set for Roy Walker tonight at 7 p.m. The championships begin at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.