West Michigan's Shimmell, O'Neal fall; Saginaw's Garza
advances to National Golden Gloves finals
by Jeff Chaney | The Grand Rapids Press
Saturday May 10, 2008, 3:15 AM
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GRAND RAPIDS -- It was a tough night for local fighters at the National Golden Gloves
Tournament of Champions on Friday. Hudsonville heavyweight Jordan Shimmell and Grand
Rapids super heavyweight Ryan O'Neal lost semifinal fights they were leading heading into
the final round. Hudsonville's Jordan Shimmell, right, exchanges blows with Detroit's Craig
Lewis during their National Golden Gloves heavyweight semifinal on Friday night at DeVos
Place. Shimmell, who was ahead on three of the judges' scorecards heading into the fourth
and final round, dropped a 3-2 decision to Detroit's Craig Lewis. O'Neal was up on four of
the judges' scorecards through three rounds in his fight with California's Andrae Cathron
before falling 4-1. It was Shimmel's third loss in three fights against Lewis. "He out-worked
me," Shimmell said. "I won't make excuses. We have close fights every time we fight. I
thought I won the fight, but I came up short." Shimmell, who was the national runner-up in
the heavyweight division two years ago, was disappointed after falling short Friday in front
of his hometown crowd. "I felt I let some people down tonight," Shimmell said. "I fought my
heart out, I just came up short." Grand Rapids super heavyweight Ryan O'Neal, left, misses
California's Andrae Cathron during their National Golden Gloves semifinal bout Friday.
O'Neal acknowledged gassing out in the final round. "I just got tired," he said. "I tried to pace
myself. I have no excuses, I just didn't throw enough punches late. The first couple of
rounds, he couldn't get in on me." It was O'Neal's first time at the national tournament, and
he gave a valiant effort, going 3-1 on the week. "I'm happy, but I wanted to win it," O'Neal
said. "I did get some good experience this week." Saginaw's Ernesto Garza, left, stands in a
neutral corner after knocking down Cleveland's Antonio Nieves during their National Golden
Gloves bantamweight semifinal Friday night. Michigan Golden Gloves teammate Ernesto
Garza's march to the semifinals has been an impressive one. The 19-year-old Saginaw
bantamweight won his first two bouts this week by first-round stoppages, and his third fight
in the quarterfinals was a relatively easy 5-0 decision. That trend continued in his semifinal
bout Friday night against Cleveland's Antonio Nieves. Garza hammered Nieves with
pounding body shots that forced four standing eight counts and a stoppage of their fight at 1
minute, 41 seconds of the third round. Garza faces California's Roman Morales tonight for
the bantamweight title. "I'm very excited," said Garza, who is fighting in his third National
Golden Gloves. "This is more than I could have wished for. I had it in my mind that I was
going to go out with a bang since I was turning pro in July. I guess this is my big bang."
Garza's big bangs in the ring started in the second round after Garza chased the quick
Nieves for most of the first round. "I knew it was a matter of time before I'd catch him," Garza
said. "He did the same thing (Thursday) in his fight. I really didn't know the body shots
would be there until after that first round, because that's when he slowed down." Nieves
took one standing eight count in the second round, and three more in the third round before
the fight was stopped. Garza's trainer, Juan Garcia Sr., was just as impressed as the crowd
that witnessed the pounding. "He hits hard," Garcia said. "We told him to pace himself early
because we knew it was four rounds tonight. Then he used those body punches, and that's
what did it, those body shots." Next up for Garza is a tall and lengthy Morales, a 19-year-old
who lives in San Ardo, Calif., and beat Washington D.C.'s Kevin Rivers 5-0 in the semifinals.
"Since he is tall and has the reach, I'm going to go to the body again," Garza said. "I want to
get inside and get my shots." Garcia agreed that the body shots that worked Friday would
be a good game plan tonight. "I think him being taller is going to play into Ernie's hand,"
Garcia said. "He needs to look for more body shots. He just need to keep working, and
things will fall into place." Garza hopes everything keeps falling into place just as it has the
past four fights. "The best way to win here is to knock them out," Garza said. "I'd rather it
(the decision) not go to the judges. I like to take things into my own hands."