The talk at the gym centered on Mike Gavronski, an up-and-coming middleweight warhorse with a body similar to Michael Angelo’s statue of David. No one knows if David could punch, but Gavronski can - 12 KOs in 20 fights.  At 29, already long in the tooth, he does not have much time to make his mark and the habit of occasionally hanging his chin out like a speed bag is no help. He has already had his jaw broken and and was put down in his last fight. Sheer guts have carried him through several good smacks. Age kills Boxing potential faster than Agent Orange on vegetation and skills turn from bright leafy colors to dried sprigs almost over night. The crowd-pleasing style of Gavronski seldom leads to a long career but, boy does it bring on the cheers, people, both men and women, screaming with all their hearts demanding more and more from their special hero.

The men at the local gym believe Gavronski can go all the way. We can only assume they mean all the way to a world title. Who knows? Fans fixed on a local favorite often suffer from crowded vision and always believe their man can snatch a title. If it doesn’t happen they forget about him soon enough, usually by time the guards shuffle them from the event and back onto the street where they talk about another fighter they saw who, with enough work, could go all the way to a title. Not until they grow old will they remember Gavronsky and say, “I remember this great kid…”

People live on hope. Old timers in the Tacoma area remember Ray Lampkin who eventually rose from his wheelchair after his vicious beating from Roberto Duran; Rocky Lockridge half crazy and living in poverty on the streets back east; Sugar Ray Seals legally blind; Greg Haugen fighting a life-long battle with drugs; and a few who escaped with their lives more-or-less intact: Joe Hipp the jovial Indian heavyweight who lost to Bruce Seldon for the heavyweight title; and Leo Randolph content to live a normal life after years of driving bus.

Newer fight fans have no history of boxing. With their limited mental capacity they understand that MMA fighters pound on one another and Gavronski does much the same, which is why he is so popular. To learn about a sport, to learn about anything requiring more than an incoming tweet, takes too much effort these days. Knowledge no longer lives in the mind but somewhere in the electronic world. There was a time the mind stayed active and one had to turn on an empty electronic device in order to get it to work; now it’s the other way around and people are running on low voltage.

On this night Gavronski fought Tyrell Hendrix (11-7-2), a chance to avenge his only draw. The draw came in his second fight. Gavronski has come a long way since then, all wins with one exception. Tyrell has come a long way, too, only in a different direction and he has fallen into the category of opponent. He has lost 5 of his last 7 fights, 4 by KO. This makes him a favorite with fighters on the rise and in high demand. He is a better fighter than his record indicates. One can assume that faulty management is the cause. Rather than move him along with opponents from whom he can learn, he has been tossed in for quick money.

Interesting enough, the fight started at the weigh-in the night before when Hendrix calmed Gavronski touched him. Hendrix flew into a rage, or hissy fit like siblings in the back of the car as they scream, “He touched me!” Hendrix shoved Gavronski and started yelling, “You touched me Nigger, you touched me.” Not exactly gentleman behavior but then again boxing is not chess. Gavronski assumed the stance as people stepped in to separate them. Hendrix’s corner men moved attempted a flanking move but were stopped by the stoic patience Gavronski’s manager Sam Ditusa, a vice cop in Seattle who found the proceeding all in a day’s work. In such an atmosphere, a vice cop is a good person to have on your side.

Hendrix showed his skills in the fight as he came out banging. These were two men bent on destruction. If anyone thought it would be an easy fight for Gavronski, they were mistaken. In many rounds Hendrix gave as good as he got and never took a backward step. The influence of newly-added trainer Bob Jarvis was apparent as Gavronski showed a straighter, firmer jab. He started to fade after the 6th round and Hendrix seemed to grow stronger. Again his heart carried him through. It looked as if he was taking off the ninth round so he could finish strong in the 10th when he fired a perfect right that put Hendrix away at 2:03.

So, what is Gavronski to do now? He is going to have to fight someone fairly significant and fairly soon. After one or two more winning fights, he needs to break into the vast pool of qualified opponents in the toughest division today. Triple G is out of the question. So are Alverez and Coto. But Willie Monroe is a good choice. He has a name and he can be beaten. He is difficult to hit. Gavronski just needs to learn how to cut off the ring. With only 6 KOs, Monroe is a light hitter. His chin is also suspect. Yes, Monroe would be just the ticket, someone with a name, no punch, and a ceramic jaw. No matter. Sam Ditusa is a smart man and has plans of his own.

Virgil Green (11-3-3KO) has always had a flyswatter punch, just as fast and just as hard. With 4 KOs he’s more Willie Pep than Ron Lyle. He is not short of skill as he showed with his two best wins over unbeaten Will Hughes and 7-1 Isreal Areliano. Tonight he went against tough puncher Marcelino Pineda (5-2-5KO) in an all action fight that lasted all of three or four punches. Pineda’s only loss came at the hands of Will Hughes and people expected him to put up some kind of fight. Rumor had it that this was Pineda’s last fight and that he even tried to cancel out. That made his remarkably quick knockout suspect in the eyes of many fans as they became very vocal. Ali’s phantom punch lives on. No matter. A win is a win and Hill continues his quest with another official KO. With the short time the fight lasted he looked good.

Jason Davis (13-10-3KO) fought Daryl Gardner (2-6-2KO) to a draw on their last outing. They decided to settle matters on this night. Both pleasing fighters with all the skill of Rockem-Sockim-Robots they are crowd favorites to people who wouldn’t know the difference between Rocky Balboa and Rocky Marciano. The disappointment was in referee Terrance Moody when Gardner was knocked down at the end of round of 2. Gardner rose quickly but Moody stopped the fight 8 seconds after the bell. The reason you stop a fight is to prevent the boxer from taking further punishment while he is still hurt. It is difficult to get hurt when there is no opponent. They were, after all, in the rest period. The correct thing to do was to let Gardner have his one minute rest then watch him as he came out for the bell. If he still looked damaged, then stop the fight because he now has an opponent facing him.

 Andres Reyes (3-1) took a big step against Ray Lampkin (8-0-2KO) Lampkin’s wins have come mostly from losing fighters like Eduardo Avaca with 6 wins and 27 loses. Scouting reports say he is lazy in the gym and sometimes it shows during the fights. It showed in this one. For three rounds he looked great, lots of movement and lightning fast hands. After that he fought in spurts as he attempted to catch his breath. Although he actually turned his back and ran around the ring in the last round he managed the majority decision.

Sean Gee (2-0-0) scored a majority decision over Antonio Neal (3-2-0 3KO) Gees southpaw style gave Neal some trouble during a pretty skilled fight. Gee seemed punched out by the end of the bout.

Guillermo Maldonado and Bobby McIntyre, making their pro debuts, started off the night with an all action limited skills bout. These two were all guts and tore at each other the entire 4 rounds. It was a crowd pleaser that saw Maldonado pull off the unanimous decision. 

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