Bengal Bouts: 180-pounds — Heavyweights: Three more rounds
By: JOE HETTLER
Senior Matt "Missile" Sarb warned his opponents to "watch their ribs" prior to his 180-pound semifinal bout against sophomore Tommy "Gun" Demko. Demko took the advice and covered his midsection, but forgot to cover one other body part — his face.
Nineteen seconds into the second round of their fight, the football walk-on punished Demko with a right hook that sent blood as well as the "Gun" to the canvas for good.
Early in the fight, it looked as if Demko may wear down Sarb by throwing numerous wild combinations and averting trouble. Yet all it took for Sarb was one powerful punch.
In the first 180-pound contest, two-time champion senior Mark "Bright Lights, Big City" Criniti faced senior Keith "Little Ball of Love" Arnold. From the start, Criniti used his quickness and agility to land punches on the bigger Arnold. Yet Arnold countered by being patience, fighting off Criniti's combinations and then striking when the opportunity arose.
But Criniti chipped away at Arnold's advantage throughout the three rounds and won a unanimous decision to advance to his third straight finals.
The first fight in the 190-pound category squared John Lynk against William Zizic and left almost the entire crowd on its feet at its conclusion.
In a fight that saw each boxer land huge combinations and hooks on the other, Lynk used an aggressive start and a strong finish to pull off the unanimous victory to advance to the finals.
Zizic had a good second round, but could not stop the barrage of punches Lynk fired off in the final round. The fight went back and forth, with the crowd getting into the action more and more as the bout continued.
After two close rounds in the second 190-pound fight between Kevin "Hardcore" Brandl and Joshua "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Kaakua, Brandl finally took over.
"It was a slower paced fight, it wasn't a brawl," said Brandl. "I think that we both fought really well and it defiantly was really close. I think it the end the advantage came when I landed some good jabs in there."
Both fighters went after each other aggressively in the third round, but Brandl had just enough to gain the victory and a second chance at a Bengal Bouts championship. He lost in the finals during his sophomore year.
Carlos Abeyeta and Stefan Borovina both had byes in the first round and had not fought in the tournament heading into the semifinals. It did not seem to matter for either.
Abeyeta overcame a slow start and five time stoppages during the match to win a unanimous decision against football walk-on Jeff Campbell.
Campbell came out in the first round extremely aggressive and seemed to surprise Abeyeta with his flurry of combinations and strong jabs. But Abeyeta slowly but surely began to land more and more left hooks before taking the match over in the final round.
In the other semifinal, Borovina steadily landed punches throughout the match while his opponent, Eric Nelson, struggled mightly to hit Borovina during the first two rounds. Nelson, the shortest fighter in his weight class, had trouble reaching Borovina. Finally, in the third round, Nelson began hitting Borovina heavily, but it was too little, too late as the Borovina won in a split decision to head to the finals against Abeyeta.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, February 28, 2002