Bridgeport boxer Ernie Garza III wins National Golden Gloves
bantamweight title
by Jeff Chaney | The Grand Rapids Press
Saturday May 10, 2008, 8:23 PM
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GRAND RAPIDS -- Ernie Garza III said it was a steady diet of bacon, eggs, pancakes and
Vitamin Water that gave him the strength to dominate. That was the 19-year-old Bridgeport
bantamweight's each and only meal after every weigh-in during this week's National Golden
Gloves Tournament of Champions. The nourishment worked, as Garza capped off an
impressive week of boxing with a national title after beating California's Roman Morales by a
5-0 decision Saturday night at DeVos Place. Garza's week included three stoppages and
two 5-0 decisions on his way to the championship. "Everybody kept asking me where I got
my strength from and what I was eating," said Garza, who was Michigan Golden Gloves
lone champion. "I said I ate eggs, bacon, pancakes and Vitamin Water every day." Ernesto
Garza, right, wins the 119 weight class from Roman Morales of California for national
championship in the Golden Gloves National Tournament in Grand Rapids, Mi. Saturday.
Garza's week began Tuesday with a first-round stoppage of Syracuse's Joshua Perez in 1
minute, 42 seconds. His second fight was even quicker, when he stopped Iowa's Zach Knox
in 29 seconds of the first round. Garza finally had the opportunity to go three full rounds in
the quarterfinals when he picked up a 5-0 decision over Chicago's Darris Smith. In the
semifinals, Garza's hard punches were a factor again, forcing four standing-eight counts
and a third-round stoppage of Cleveland's Antonio Neives, a boxer who was ranked fourth
nationally by U.S.A. Boxing. The championship fight was a little tougher, as Morales, the
fifth-ranked bantamweight in the country, used a strong jab and his height to force a
second-round standing eight on Garza. 'This was a little tougher," Garza said. "His height
and reach were a problem. (On that standing-eight count), he caught me with a punch, and I
was off balance." Garza's trainer, Juan Garcia Sr., admitted the fight started awkwardly for
his fighter, but was proud of the way he fought through it. "He got head-butted in the first
round, and that startled him," Garcia said. "We didn't take his mouthpiece during the fight,
because we thought he may have lost a tooth and would have started bleeding. But we
found out after he was OK." Garza, who was a quarterfinalist at last year's tournament, was
great all week, even though he had the added stress of watching his weight each day.
Garza was limited to the one meal a day because he cut from 125 pounds to 119 for this
Ernesto Garza, left, punches Roman Morales of California during the championship fight of
the Golden Gloves National Tournament in Grand Rapids, Mi., Saturday. "It was a tense
week, but we knew he would have the power at 119 pounds," Garcia said. "The only thing
that worried us was his weight. We knew he would be strong here."  Garza was, and is now
a champion. "It feels great," Garza said. "This is my biggest accomplishment. I was confident
I could win, and I'm happy I did." So was Garza's mother, Eloisa. After the fight, outside the
ring, Eloisa wiped away tears and thanked Jesus. "He's had a really tough year and he
really needed this," said the weeping mother. "He's had to overcome a lot of obstacles and
now he's a champ and he's always been a champ." Garza is the second Saginaw County
boxer to win a championship this decade. Lorenzo Reynolds won a lightweight title in 2002
and a light welterweight title in 2003. Garza now plans to turn professional in July, and
hopes to use this championship as a stepping stone to bigger things. "This is going to help
me out and prepare me to be a professional," Garza said. "I'm ready now."