Last night a few more of our team fell. Julian Sosa lost a great fight against a fast southpaw. Alex faded after a few days of stomach flu. Josue looked sharp, but gave up an 8-count in the third that might have made the difference.
Advancing to the finals were Edgar Berlanga, Shu Shu, and Africa. All three looked in top form and will be hard to beat if they keep boxing that well.
Christina Cruz also outclassed her girl, although she admitted to feeling a bit off. Maybe it's the killer mosquito that has been terrorizing our room. I now have welts all over my hands and arms. If these blog posts stop suddenly, it's safe to assume I have died from West Nile.
I loved my post-fight interview at El Pollo Loco with Africa AKA The Black Mexican AKA The Black Mamba AKA Richardson Hitchins AKA Richardson Jacques. If he didn't already have so many names, I would give him another, The Professor. This kid studies his craft.
This photo is by Iron Boy, who says, "I think Africa has the best jab in the tournament. It's so stiff, like a stick in your face. I haven't seen anybody else jabbing like that."
Q: How did you get started in boxing?
A: I was twelve. I used to see Mayweather on TV, and I wanted to box like that. I went around to some boxing gyms, but they were too expensive. Then I youtubed "boxing program brooklyn" and I saw a video of Julian. He looked so good. Nobody knew where Flatbush Gardens were, because it used to be called the Vandeveers, so I just rode the train by myself, looking for the gym. It was kind of an adventure.
Q: I think you're the most improved fighter in the gym. How did you get so good so fast?
A: I focus on boxing. I watch other people. When I was young, Sosa used to say, "Forget about working out, just sit down and watch the sparring."
Q: Tell me about the jab. Why is it important and how did you develop it?
A: That's the offense and that's the defense right there. Every fight you should use it - against a short fighter, against a brawler. And the judges love to see it. I watched Mayweather and tried to jab like him. I watched Earl on the bag, they way he snapped it.
Q: What other fighters do you admire besides Mayweather?
A: To tell you the truth, I don't admire a lot of pros. I admire amateurs: Edgar, Tremaine Williams, they call him "Midget," Shakur, Josue, Earl, and Erickson Lubin, although he doesn't use his jab enough.
Q: Do you think a boxer has to be mean?
A: I do. But I think boxing is mostly about being smart. A smart fighter knows when to be mean and when not to be mean.
Q: What do you want to improve in your boxing?
A: Keeping my distance. People think it's just the jab that keeps distance, but it's everything. It's your feet, how far you step back, how you throw the right hand, your timing. Those are the two most important things in boxing, timing and distance.
Q: You had a great win tonight against Mykquan Williams, who is ranked second in the nation. The last time you fought him, he won. How did you approach the rematch?
A: I think I got robbed last time, so this time I wanted to make sure it wasn't close. I wanted to box him. The jab was the key. It set up the uppercut and it set up the right hand. I knew that Mykquan was gonna try to flick down my jab with his right hand, so I aimed it at his left eye. I saw that in Mayweather-Canelo. The second time I watched the fight, I saw that Mayweather was aiming the jab at Canelo's left eye every time. That was why Canelo wasn't blocking.
Q: While the fight was going on, did you know you were winning?
A: Yeah, I knew. I'm really confident. I know I'm gonna win this whole tournament.