Michigan's Shimmell, O'Neal, Garza advance
to semifinals of National Golden Gloves
by Jeff Chaney | The Grand Rapids Press
Friday May 09, 2008, 2:25 AM
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GRAND RAPIDS -- Jordan Shimmell and Ryan O'Neal stopped the bleeding. Shimmell, the
Hudsonville heavyweight, and O'Neal, the Grand Rapids super heavyweight, helped end a
losing trend for Michigan Golden Gloves at Thursday's quarterfinals of the National Golden
Gloves Tournament of Champions. Michigan had seven boxers advance to Thursday's
quarterfinals at DeVos Place, and four of the first five lost by decision. That's when
Shimmell entered the ring for his bout with Texas' Craig Baker. Hudsonville's Jordan
Shimmell exchanges blows with Texas' Craig Baker during their heavyweight quarterfinal
Thursday at the National Golden Gloves. In a sluggish fight for Shimmell, he beat the U.S.
Championships semifinalist and National Police Athletic League finalist from Baystown,
Texas, 5-0. O'Neal followed that up with a close 3-2 decision over New England's Pedro
Gonzales. Shimmell is happy to be moving on to tonight's semifinals, but wish he could have
looked better in victory. "It was a tough day for Michigan, and it was a tough day for me,"
Shimmell said. "The guys lost a lot of close fights today. "I had an off day. It was 5-0, but it
can still be close even though it is 5-0. I was ready, I just couldn't get use to his style. But I
did what I had to do to win." Up next for Shimmell is a semifinal bout with Detroit's Craig
Lewis, a boxer Shimmell is 0-2 against. "I just want to learn from my mistakes and change
what I do (tonight)," Shimmell said. "Everyone is tough now. If I win (tonight), Saturday's
fight will be even tougher." Grand Rapids' Ryan O'Neal, right, celebrates his super
heavyweight quarterfinal victory over New England's Pedro Gonzales on Thursday.
The hard-hitting O'Neal was just as critical with his Thursday performance as Shimmell was
with his. "He was hard to hit, I had to chase him," O'Neal said. "He was a southpaw and I
had to chase him and that made it awkward. I didn't feel too good with that victory. It was too
close, and I'll try harder (tonight)." O'Neal now has a semifinal match with California's
Andrae Cathron. It will be the first time O'Neal will have the challenge of fighting in a
four-round bout. "I feel good about it," O'Neal said. "I just need to pace myself and press the
issue." Saginaw's Ernesto Garza, right, waits for the decision after his bantamweight
quarterfinal bout with Chicago's Darris Smith. Garza won by decision, 5-0. The only other
Michigan boxer to advance to the semifinals was Saginaw bantamweight Ernesto Garza III.
After two first-round stoppages earlier in the tournament, Garza beat Chicago's Darris Smith
by a 5-0 decision. Garza admitted after the fight he was glad to finally go the distance.
"I felt it was a good opportunity to work on things," Garza said. "My game plan was to keep
the pressure on. I wanted to keep going to the body." Next up for Garza is his semifinal bout
against Cleveland's Antonio Nieves. The night started out with Grand Rapids' Tyler James
losing his flyweight bout to Colorado-New Mexico's Michael Herrera. James had a strong
jab working early in the fight, but noticeably tired as the fight went on. "I thought I won, I just
got tired," James said. "I don't know what happened, maybe I didn't eat enough or hydrate
enough. That third round I got tired, "I thought I did good, I thought I won, no matter what
everybody said. I just didn't pull it out." For Holland's Johnny Garcia, it was a slow start that
did him in his light welterweight 4-1 loss to Kansas-Oklahoma's Jeff Strum. "I could have
worked harder in the beginning," Garcia said. "None of my fights I know if I won or lost until
the end. I know I tried tonight. "I'm happy, but I'm not satisfied because I wanted to win the
whole thing." Saginaw welterweight Jose Bernal and Benton Harbor middleweight Ben
Williams were also on the losing end of decisions. Bernal fell 4-1 to Pennsylvania's Sammy
Vazquez, in a fight that saw both boxers bloodied from the nose, and a crowd rise to its feet
after the conclusion. "I ran out of gas, that's all there is to it," Bernal said. "I'm happy I made
it this far, but I'm not happy I didn't win it." Williams lost his fight, 5-0, to New Jersey's Denis