Semifinals set for KO Drugs tournament
By Greg Gulas
Storylines are beginning to unfold and pairings taking shape for the semifinals of the 25th annual K.O. Drugs High School Boxing Tournament.
Included on the April 23 card at the St. Lucy Palermo Banquet Center will be four girls championship bouts and a much clearer picture of the boys championship pairings.
Last year, East High’s Torrence Ahart posted a perfect 3-0 mark en route to the upperclass lightweight title.
After earning a split decision over Niko Froce of New Castle on Monday, he feels like he is now primed for a second consecutive lightweight crown.
“He really was a tough opponent so I’m all right with the split decision,” said Ahart. “He was tough to fight because he’s smaller than I am so I had to rely on my right hand when I was in trouble.”
“I just want another opportunity at a championship belt and to repeat as champion,” he added.
Two years ago, Poland’s Edwin Figueroa lost a split decision on championship night and last year was unable to participate because of a work commitment.
After scoring a second-round TKO over Marlington’s Brandon Grindle on Monday, he feels the year away made him hungrier for the championship.
“I’m not going to stop until I get it,” said Figueroa. “He [Grindle] pushed and leaned on me and I felt like I was trailing after the first-round, but I’m also a wrestler and just like in that sport, I kept my composure.”
Lowellville’s Evan Amos dropped a unanimous decision to Boardman’s Troy Sigurani on opening night, so losing wasn’t an option for him if he wanted to advance to the title round.
After posting a unanimous decision over Joseph Allen of Life Skills in an upperclass super middleweight bout, he feels like his game is back on track.
“I moved my head and tried not to get in trouble on the ropes,” said Amos. “I just moved around a lot and used my defense to set up my offense.”
In underclass action, Campbell’s Tyler Banks found the going rather easy during his first sanctioned fight as he stopped Nathan Johnson of Warren Harding by unanimous decision in a featherweight clash.
“I’ve never fought before and while I play and like football, I started to enjoy boxing and something just told me to take part in this year’s event. I’m really glad I made that decision,” Banks said.
Like Banks, Struthers’ John Stran is a first-time fighter.
His third-round TKO over Chaney’s Vernon Warman sent notice to any future opponent.
“I thought it would be easier but give him [Warman] credit because he posed one big challenge for me,” said Stran. “It was my hook and jab that set the table for me tonight.”
South Range’s Eric Liston dropped a split decision to Jordan Sams of Howland last Monday, but his second-round TKO over Canfield’s Riley Plauka also has him pointed in the right direction in the junior middleweight class.
“Last week was a huge wake-up call for me. It was my first match ever so after a week of thinking about that fight, I entered the ring with more confidence,” Liston said.
The double-elimination tournament continues next Monday with approximately 30 bouts on tap. Doors will open at 6 p.m. with the first bout hitting the bell at 7 p.m.