Column: The beat goes on: Bridgeport's Ernie Garza III
continues Golden Gloves march to semifinals
by Jeff Chaney | The Grand Rapids Press
Friday May 09, 2008, 9:49 PM
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GRAND RAPIDS -- Ernie Garza III's march to the National Golden Gloves Tournament of
Champions' semifinals has been an impressive one. The 19-year-old Bridgeport
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 at DeVos Place with Cleveland's Antonio Nieves, as he hammered Nieves
with pounding body shots that forced four standing eight counts and a stoppage of their
fight at 1minute, 41 seconds of the third round. Garza now fights California's Roman
Morales for the bantamweight title tonight. "I'm very excited," said Garza, who is fighting in
his third National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions. "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 (in his amateur career)
since I was turning pro in July. I guess this is my big bang." Ernesto Garza III in between
rounds of the Golden Gloves National Tournament in Grand Rapids on Friday. 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 took three more in the third round before the referee
stepped in and ended the fight. 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 resides in San Ardo, Calif and beat Washington D.C.'s Kevin
Rivers 5-0 in their semifinal bout. "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." Ernesto Garza III, left,
punches at Antonio Nieves of Cleveland during their fight. Garcia agreed that the body
shots that worked Friday would be a good gameplan 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." Two Garza's Michigan Golden Gloves teammates, Hudsonville heavyweight Jordan
Shimmell and Grand Rapids super heavyweight Ryan O'Neal, had yet to fight their semifinal
bouts at the time of print. Ernesto Garza III, left, waits for Antonio Nieves of Cleveland to get
up after knocking him down in the third round of their fight in the Golden Gloves National
Tournament.