Saturday night’s all right for fighting

Local boxers look to improve careers at Fight Night for PAL

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

The first time Jorell Reynosa stepped into the ring for a boxing match he won by a knockout.

On Saturday, nearly five years after that successful debut, the Battle Ground native hopes to make another lasting impression for local fight fans.

The 22-year-old Reynosa is scheduled to fight Demetrius Price from Tacoma during the Fight Night for Police Athletic League (PAL) event at the Clark County Events Center. The 141-pound bout is one of five amateur matches on the pro-am card, and one of four matches during the evening that features fighters with Clark County connections.

In the evening’s main event, Vancouver’s Virgil Green will fight for a Northwest Junior Welterweight belt and try to improve to 4-0 as a professional boxer.

Other pro fights on the card feature Fisticuffs Gym’s Sammy Perez in his professional debut and Vancouver Boxing Club’s Kendall Ward chasing his first pro boxing triumph.

The stakes might not be quite as high for Reynosa. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a significant opportunity. With a 7-2 record as an amateur, Reynosa has enjoyed enough success to know he wants to give boxing a serious shot.

“I’d like to become a full-time boxer and have a (college) degree to fall back on,” he said.

School and work as an EMT have made Reynosa be selective about his boxing career.

He said he understands that to be successful in a fight requires hours of training. Reynosa loves to spend time at the gym, but hasn’t always had the time to dedicate to boxing.

But he’s ready for this match. His preparation under the guidance of Leonard Gabriel at Fisticuffs Gym in Vancouver has Reynosa confident he will put on another good show for hometown fans this week.

One reason for that confidence, he said, is training alongside Green and Perez. Green made his amateur debut that same evening in 2006 when Reynosa won by knockout and has since progressed through national-level amateur fights to become a professional.

“I really pay a lot of attention to Virgil,” said Reynosa, who has been sparring with Green and Perez in the lead-up to Saturday’s show. “When you’re sparring with Virgil you’ve really got to stay on your toes.”

Reynosa was introduced to boxing in 2006 when he joined older brother Joe at the Vancouver PAL’s program. Lee Jenkins directed that program, and Reynosa credits Jenkins for nurturing a love for boxing while drilling the fundamentals into a high school kid.

Gabriel, a police officer who was involved with the PAL boxing program before opening Fisticuffs, said Reynosa has the makeup to become a successful boxer.

“What he doesn’t have technically just yet, he has in grit,” Gabriel said.

Sparring partners Green and Perez are starting professional careers with big plans, but Reynosa is in no hurry to take that step. He plans to compete as an amateur while he continues his education. His sights are set on a national tournament this winter.

“I don’t want to rush into it,” Reynosa said of his boxing future. “If I’m consistent with it, and put in the training time, hopefully I can be successful.”

Perez, 20, is an example of how experience as an amateur leads to professional opportunity.

He followed two older brothers to West Portland Boxing Club more than 12 years ago, before turning 8. Perez has competed at national Junior Olympics and Silver Clubs tournaments and been ranked as high as No. 2 nationally. Early this year, on the recommendation of West Portland Boxing founder Bill Mertz, Perez began train under Gabriel at Fisticuffs.

“Pro boxing is a whole new game, and I’m kind of nervous about that,” said Perez, who is scheduled to go four rounds against Danny Ruiz from Riverside, Calif, in a 134-pound fight.

Gabriel said Perez makes up for a small frame with super-quick hands. His ability to rattle opponents with rapid combinations gives Gabriel confidence that Perez will round into a successful pro fighter.

“Sammy’s super-quick,” Gabriel said. “He’s going to surprise people.”