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Amateur boxers put on entertaining show for SRO crowd in Waukegan

Waukegan-10/20/12 Sat./PuerRican Society Hall
Jeremy Hall Waukegan with jab face Saturday night PuerRican Club during his bout.
| Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

Waukegan-10/20/12, Sat./Puerto Rican Society Hall Jeremy Hall, of Waukegan with jab to the face Saturday night at the Puerto Rican Club during his bout. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

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Saturday Night Boxing at the Puerto Rican Society hall on Sheridan Road in Waukegan.

Standing-room only crowd of around 500. Having the place packed did help create a somewhat better boxing atmosphere than it otherwise might have been. Because of the venue and the crowd, you got the feeling that the event was a kind of “throwback.”

The card featured 12 solid amateur matchups, most of them evenly matched enough that both opponents were involved in a little give and take.

What may have been the highlight of the night came at the expense of local fighter Todd Smith. Smith, a heavyweight with a chiseled physique who trains with T-N-T Boxing Club in Waukegan and was appearing in his first amateur bout, was sent to the mat with a heavy hook less than fifteen seconds into the fight by Juan Ceja of Bolingbrook. Smith rose for the standing eight count, and returned to action, but the referee finally stopped the fight in the second round, awarding Ceja the TKO victory.

It was a tough night all around for local fighters. Mike McClary, a safety officer at Waukegan High School, fought in his first amateur fight (151 lbs), but was forced to concede defeat in the third round, clearly in pain after taking two blows to the kidney area.

Mike McClary: “It was a good experience. This was about trying something new and seeing where I can go with it, and being a role model for the kids. I need to work on sticking close to my opponent. I’m shorter than most people my size. I don’t have the reach so I have to work on fighting on the inside.”

Former Senior Novice Division Golden Gloves champion Jeremy Hall, who fights for and also helps train other boxers at T-N-T, lost a decision to 23-year-old Jose Joubert of Racine.

Perhaps the best showing among local boxers was 21-year-old Carlos Moya, who also trains with T-N-T. Moya was the aggressor through the first two rounds of a close fight with Eddie Ramirez of Aurora, but tired down the stretch and lost the decision.

Carlos Moya: “It was a good event. It was good to see the community come out and support it. I thought it was a pretty good fight. I maybe got a little bit tired at the end. I want to see where the sport takes me. I do it because it’s fun. I just love the sport.”

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Updated: December 22, 2012 1:56AM

Show promoter Ulises Arenas was the busiest guy in the Puerto Rican Society hall on Saturday night.

But while he was buzzing around like a worker bee, he was doing so with a smile on his face.

And why not? Clearly, he’s onto something here. Saturday’s boxing show drew an SRO crowd of about 500, and nobody had reason to go home disappointed, unless you were a fan of one of the fighters who lost in the ring.

Afterward, Arenas talked about the event, and his dream regarding boxing in Waukegan.

“I was very happy with the support the community showed. I’m very proud of Waukegan. They came out and showed support for the fighters,” he said. “That’s what these fighters need. They need to know that the sport is still alive in this area and that it’s going to stay.”

As for the future, Arenas was totally upbeat.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’d like to bring in some more Golden Glove winners, some more-experienced fighters,” he said. “Of course, we always want to push Waukegan fighters.”

In truth, the Waukegan fighters did not have a great night in terms of winning/losing.

“It was a rough night for Waukegan fighters, but Mike McClary and Todd Smith were in their first fight,” Arenas said. “I have to take my hat off to those guys. They’ve been training for less than a year and they came out and did a show. Anyone in the boxing world knows how hard that is.”

Arenas anticipates the next boxing card for January; the venue is yet to be determined.

Arena’s friend, TOPP Fighting MMA promoter Miguel Arellano, will be putting on the promotion’s Thanksgiving Throwdown event on Nov. 3, 2012 at Jesse Oaks in Gages Lake. Doors open at 6 p.m.

The event will feature Tom Angelhoff of Rothwell MMA in Kenosha whose devastating knockout of his opponent in August was the highlight of TOPP Fighting MMA’s Battle of the Warriors 2.

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