Kenny Guzman continues to shine in his hometown ring and the sport of boxing continues to grow in Kalispell.
Guzman, a 24-year-old fan favorite fighting at 132 pounds, hiked his record to 14-7 with a victory over speedy Joseph Pichardo in front of nearly 500 spectators at the Montana Golden Gloves boxing event at the Outlaw Inn on Saturday night.
"Boxing's back in the Flathead Valley," said Phillip Moore, head coach of the Flathead Boxing Club and co-organizer of the event along with members of the Straight Blast Gym of Montana.
There were 15 matches of kids and adults from across the state and region, but only one fight was eligible to be an officially sanctioned Golden Gloves championship bout for a sport that is trying to make a comeback into the mainstream.
The main event title fight was between Dave Otis of Belgrade and local fighter Randy Kopchinsky. Otis used a few heavy punches in the third round to earn the title by split decision and advance to Salt Lake City, Utah, in April for the regional tournament.
"I think what lost it for him was that Randy got more tired than the other guy," Moore said. "That's what it came down to. That third round was the key. I think that's what lost it for him."
Kopchinsky is a relative newcomer to the sport and was dealt his first loss in five matches.
"To stand in there and give a fight like that with a guy like that says a lot," Moore said.
Guzman's bout was a technical performance between two fighters already acclaimed as Golden Glove champs. Before the final two bouts started, Guzman and Pichardo were awarded trophies and jackets along with other uncontested winners who will advance to regionals. They were: Helena's Duran Caferro, Jr, who is a member on the USA Boxing team and refereed on Saturday; Matt Skaw of Hamilton; Adam Axelson of Missoula.
"That was the fastest guy I've ever fought before," Guzman said. "He was lightning fast. And he has such an unorthodox style. His defense was his feet and he is really good using his range. I just had to apply pressure the whole time and always move forward.
Guzman found a rhythm in the second round and gained the advantage with an aggressive attack.
"I just had to apply pressure the whole time and really apply pressure," he said. "When I got in I had to get three, four, five punches before I tried to jump out."
Local fighters Dalton Damm and Zeb Bedoian picked up victories in their respective divisions and Tevin Groshelle was on his way to victory before he got disqualified following an inadvertant punch after his opponent went down.
The fight of the night was declared between 18-year-old Thomas Allenton of Spokane and 22-year-old Adam Axelson of Missoula. Both fighters went punch for punch in a thrilling three-round slugfest. At the end, they both embraced, with Axelson bloodied but smiling. He was named victor.
Montana Golden Gloves
Outlaw Inn, Kalispell
60 lbs (8-9 yrs) - Kory Robinson, Ring Boxing Club, Butte, won by dec. over Skyler Eagle Deer-Bear, West Shore Boxing, Lakeside
65 lbs (8-9 yrs) - Johnny Treib, H-Town Boxing, Helena, won by dec. over Kywon Thompson, Howard Street Boxing, Spokane.
60 lbs (8-9 yrs) - Courtney Reed, H-Town Boxing, Helena, won by dec. over Shawna Uhde, West Shore Boxing, Lakeside.
90 lbs (10-11 yrs) - Zeb Bedoian, Flathead Boxing, won by dec. over Mike Duggan, Hamilton Eagles Boxing Club.
100 lbs (11-12 yrs) - Mitchell Porter, Stars and Stripes Boxing Club, Billings, won by dec. over Clayton Moody, Ring Boxing Club, Butte.
100 lbs (12-13 yrs) - Ray Moore Jr., Helena Boxing Club, won by dec. over Matthew McCarl, H-Town Boxing, Helena.
100 lbs (12-13 yrs) - Izaya Thompson, Howard Street Boxing, Spokane, won by dec. over Evan Pate, H-Town Boxing, Helena.
105 lbs (13 yrs) - Jason Skaw, Hamilton Eagles Boxing Club, won by dec. over Kody Larson, Ring Boxing Club, Butte.
112 lbs (14-15 yrs) Lyle Degen, Bad Boyz Boxing Club, Belgrade, won by dec. over Paul Cronin, H-Town Boxing Club, Helena.
130 lbs (14-15) - Micheal Kershner, H-Town Boxing Club, Helena, won by dec. over Anthony Schmalz, Hamilton Boxing Club.
145 lbs (16 yrs) - Dalton Damm, Flathead Boxing, won by dec. over Issiah Joy, Spokane Boxing Club.
170 lbs (16 years) - Nathan Andrusky, Hamilton Boxing Club, won by disqualification over Tevin Groshelle, Flathead Boxing.
178 lbs (Senior ) - Adam Axelson, Dog Pound Fight Club, Missoula, won by dec. over Thomas Allenton, Spokane Boxing Club.
132 lbs (senior) - Kenny Guzman, Flathead Boxing, won by dec. over Joseph Pichardo, H-Town, Helena.
Golden Gloves Championship Match
165 lbs (senior) - Dave Otis, Bad Boyz Boxing, Belgrade, won by split dec. over Randy Kopchinsky, Flathead Boxing.