Kentucky boxer Tyler Sexton was angry.
After last year’s championship semifinal loss to Army boxer Matt Longo, Sexton and his coaches disagreed with the judges and appealed the decision.
“There were a lot of boos (after the fight),” Sexton, who fights in the 119-pound weight class, said. “It was a close fight. We got just about every coach to sign (the petition), but it’s so hard to overturn a ruling.”
Their appeal failed, but Sexton has since gotten past his tough loss and is focused on this year’s National Collegiate Boxing Association National Collegiate Championships at the Downtown Reno Ballroom in Reno, NV. Over 80 boxers representing 20 schools competed in Thursday’s quarterfinals and Sexton was one of them.
The former Wildcat tight end won his bout with Santa Clara sophomore Ian Fletcher.
There is one more round of fighting before the boxers duke it out in the championships on Saturday.
In his quarterfinal match, Fletcher charged Sexton immediately after the opening bell, taking the junior out of his rhythm.
“He threw me off,” Sexton said. “I couldn’t do anything. I was struggling.”
Sexton looked like a different boxer in the second and third rounds, though. The 3-time Midwest regional champion may have been using last year’s anger when he repeatedly nailed Fletcher.
Blood started pouring from Fletcher’s nose as the final bell rang and Sexton was declared the winner.
“I have a habit of starting really slow,” Sexton said. “It’s something I’ve been trying to work on. “I wish I could say [this is my title to lose], but I have to prove myself to get there,” he continued.
Although Sexton got redemption in the ring on Thursday, Army dominated as a team. The boxers from West Point, NY won eight of nine fights.
“I think we’re going to win,” Army coach Ray Barone said. “I always think we’re going to win, but I’m sure there are 20 other teams who think otherwise.”
Army’s final win of the night came from 165-pound weight class fighter Ryle Stous. Stous fell behind in the first two rounds, but an impressive third round gave him the victory. Stous was throwing punches like a machine gun shoot bullets in the final 30 seconds of the fight against the Air Force Academy’s Clifford Moore.
“It always comes down to the wire with Air Force and Army,” Stous said. “He was wearing me down and I give him credit for that.”
Stous and coach Barone were happy with their team’s performance, especially taking two of three wins against the Naval Academy.
“We have to say ‘beat Navy’ all year,” Stous said. “And then we see (Army) lose miserably in football. It’s a blessing to get into the ring and live up to all the talk we do.”
Also fighting was senior captain Josh Wisniewski, the defending 125-pound champ of last year’s team championship winner Lock Haven University. Wisniewski knocked Santa Clara’s Brandon Dahl out in the first round.
“He’s notoriously a slow starter,” Lock Haven head coach Dr. Ken Cox said. “The goal, this year, was to get him off to a fast start.”
Wisniewski is coming off his fourth eastern regional championship and is one of seven boxers who have won four regional championships.
In the final fight of the night, home town University of Nevada, Reno boxer Kenny Dyer-Redner got the crowd going with his impressive one round Referee Stopped Contest.
“I don’t want to sound cliché, but that was the best fight ever,” UNR coach Mike Martino said.
The senior made the fight look like a mismatch that West Virginia fighter Ryan Ross had no chance to win.
“I really think this sets the tone for the rest of the tournament,” Dyer-Redner said.
Fighting continues tomorrow night at 6 p.m.