Victor Morales, Jr., didn’t blink in his international boxing debut.
Representing the United States at a tournament in the Dominican Republic, the Union High School sophomore won all three of his matches to bring home a gold medal from the Ruddy Zapata Cup, which concluded on Sunday.
Morales defeated boxers from Puerto Rico, Cuba and Dominican Republic to win the gold medal in the 119-pound division of the junior tournament for ages 15-16.
Haiti also had fighters at the tournament.
“This definitely puts my name on the map,” Morales said.
Fighting in the first bout of the tournament for the United States, Morales stopped an opponent from Puerto Rico in by technical knockout in the second round.
In the semifinals, he beat won by split decision.
In the finals, he won by unanimous decision over a fighter from the Dominican Republic.
Morales, 16, is coached by his father Victor Morales Sr. at West Portland Boxing Club. He made the USA Boxing Junior National Team for 2014 in January by winning the 119-pound title at the USA Boxing Junior and Youth Open.
Morales said it took about 10 seconds for him to shake off the butterflies in the first round of his first bout.
“I knew I was there for a reason,” he said.
He said his combinations were effective from the start in his first match, which ended when he landed a hook in the second round.
Against the representative of the host team, Morales said the crowd responded to every punch his opponent threw.
“It got loud,” he said. “When I started throwing punches, it went quiet.”
Morales said the fans gave him a nice ovation after his victory.
In addition to the boxing, he said he enjoyed seeing a different part of the world.
“I had a lot of fun. It was great to see another culture,” he said.
Morales said he doesn’t yet know when he will be called to train at the national training center in Colorado, or what his next international assignment might be.
But he will be ready.
“I feel like I’m ready to go again,” he said.