|Grand Rapids super heavyweight O'Neal advances to second
round of National Golden Gloves
by Jeff Chaney | The Grand Rapids Press
Wednesday May 07, 2008, 2:00 AM
GRAND RAPIDS -- Ryan O'Neal wants to shock the world. The Grand Rapids super
heavyweight, who had only 12 fights under his belt heading into this week's National
Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions, began his quest for a national title with a
hard-fought 4-1 decision over Pennsylvania's Earl Tonkins on Tuesday at DeVos Place.
"Nobody's expected me to get this far," O'Neal said. "I'm the underdog here, and I'm using
that to my advantage. I've got nothing to lose. There's a lot of ranked fighters here, and I'm
looking forward to fighting them." Grand Rapids super heavyweight Ryan O'Neal, right, talks
with his coach, Johnny Battles, before his National Golden Gloves fight Tuesday night.
O'Neal's first win at this level came thanks to a composed style against Tonkin. "I didn't want
to get hit with his wild shots," O'Neal said. "I didn't want to fight his fight, so I just kept my
composure. I kept throwing my jab and kept my distance." Next up for O'Neal is a
second-round fight tonight with St. Louis' Jabril Temple. "I was real nervous tonight," O'Neal
said. "But I just went in and did what my coach told me to do. The nerves are out the door
when you hit that ring." O'Neal was one of four Michigan Golden Gloves fighters to take to
the ring Tuesday night. Joining O'Neal as winners were a pair of Saginaw fighters,
bantamweight Ernesto Garza III and welterweight Jose Bernal. Joel Flores, right, of Hart,
throws a punch at Fidel Maldonaldo during their National Golden Gloves lightweight bout
Tuesday night at DeVos Place. Flores lost the fight. The lone Michigan Golden Gloves team
member to lose was Hart's Joel Flores. Flores went up against U.S. Championships
runner-up Fidel Maldonado in their lightweight bout, and fell to the seasoned fighter, 5-0.
"Our plan was to go out and box him and fight a smart fight," Flores said. "But he was taller
and had a long reach so I started to brawl. I tried to box him, but I had to go to plan B." The
brawling seem to be working early, but in the second round Maldonado hit Flores with a
solid body shot that sent him to the canvas. "It was a very hard punch," Flores said. "I didn't
see that punch coming. I threw the right hand and he ducked and threw that body shot. It
hurt, but I wasn't going to let the fight end like that. "I thought I fought a good third round, but
that's how it goes." In the bout just before the Flores-Maldonado fight, Garza III began his
tournament in grand fashion when he stopped Syracuse's Joshua Perez at 1 minute, 42
seconds of the first round. Garza's second-round opponent tonight is Iowa's Zach Knox.
Bernal's victory wasn't as dramatic as Garza's, but it was action-packed, as he and Arturo
Crespin of Colorado-New Mexico threw punch after punch at each other. Bernal won a tight
3-2 decision. "I relied on my body shots early, but my jab won the fight," Bernal said. "My jab
scored me lot of extra points." Bernal will face St. Louis' Jherritt Stansberry tonight.