Zamar Leonard earns first knockout of tourney

By greg gulas



Warren Harding’s Zamar Leonard didn’t know what punch he threw when he stopped Howland’s Ralph Robinson to register the first KO of this year’s K.O. Drugs High School Boxing tournament.

Columbiana’s C.K. Smith knows his jab had better be working if he expects to win a third consecutive title.

And Canfield’s Connor Hoelzel knows he is outweighed by heavyweight standards, his desire cannot be underestimated.

Leonard (in the underclass division) and both Smith and Hoelzel (in upperclass action) scored impressive wins Monday at St. Lucy’s Palermo Banquet Center and advanced to the championships on April 30.

“I was just working under him to get him into the corner and I guess my punch just hit him in the right place,” said Leonard. “It kind of surprised me that I had enough on it to knock him out,” Leonard said.

Smith, who scored a second round TKO over Chris Allen of Mahoning Opportunity in a welterweight battle, moved to 2-0 this year while winning for the eighth consecutive time dating to 2009.

“My trainer, Keith Burnside, just told me to go straight for the body and while my right was working for me, it’s my jab that sets everything up,” Smith said.

Hoelzel, who also plays football for Canfield, scored a unanimous decision over David Stewart of Struthers in a heavyweight clash despite a 22-pound weight deficit.

Both fighters threw bombs that connected right to the final bell.

“I went from cruiserweight to heavyweight because of the weight that I put on for last football season,” said Hoelzel. “I can tell you first-hand that the heavyweights hit a little bit harder.

“I felt really good tonight and I am really excited to advance to the championship round once again,” he added.

Also in upperclass action, Evan Amos improved to 2-1 with a unanimous decision over Jesse Chenevey in a super middleweight battle.

He will meet Troy Sigurani (2-0) of Boardman in a rematch of their opening-round pairing, a unanimous decision that went in favor of Sigurani.

“I knew after the first week that I had to improve if I wanted to fight for a belt,” said Amos. “In the third round I went more for the body and started to control my punches.”

In an underclass featherweight battle, Boardman’s Jared Vanasdale improved to 2-0 and advanced to the title round with a first-round TKO over Struthers’ John Stran.

“This is my first ever boxing tournament of any kind and my first win was a split decision, so that motivated me to want to do better,” Vanasdale said.

“I wanted to come out as strong as I could, get him winded with body shots and then go from there,” he added.

Also in an underclass pairing, Columbiana’s Robert O’Malley, with blood dripping from his nose, scored a unanimous decision over Jordan Sams of Howland in a super welterweight bout.

The tournament concludes next Monday with championship belts on the line in the underclass, upperclass and female divisions.

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