By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
After the opening bell for the third round, but before a punch could be thrown, Elijio Sena of Clovis pointedly looked in the direction of his opponent’s corner and laughed.
In Mark Martinez’ corner, his trainer had just told his fighter that he “had been here before.”
Sena heard something else.
“Someone said, ‘You’ve beaten him before,’” Sena said.
That would have been untrue. Sena had defeated Martinez in the finals of the super-heavyweight division two years before.
This time it was a much closer fight. And while Martinez from Hobbs may have been there before, it was Sena who had more experience.
In the end, it paid off as Sena won a decision in the championship at Roy Walker Gymnasium. Sena, and 10 other champs crowned on Sunday, will move into the regional round of the Golden Gloves tournament next week — when New Mexico’s fighters will square off with Colorado’s top amateur pugilists next Saturday.
The victors in that round will compete in the national Golden Gloves tournament in Salt Lake City the following month.
Sena entered this week’s state tournament in Clovis unsure if he would try to retain his super-heavyweight crown once again. High blood pressure was the primary impediment, but Sena decided on Friday to fight.
The championship fight was spare of much movement between the combatants and Sena got in enough shots to retain his title.
“I feel tired and wore down,” said Sena, who said he’ll pick up his training pace by leaps and bounds during the next week. “Running. Lots of running and jump rope.”
Two other fighters will Clovis affiliations met in the championship of the 141-pound weight class.
Portales’ Gabino Armijo, who fought at 152 last year, challenged two-time defending champ at the lighter weight, Hobbs’ Edgar Zubia for the crown. Though both have worked under the Clovis Boxing Club trainers, they had never gone toe-to-toe in an actual fight until Sunday.
Zubia won the bout and held a point advantage throughout. However, Zubia became agitated at his opponent in the third round. Twice, when Armijo came forward with head held low, Zubia helped along his opponent’s momentum and tugged his foe to the floor.
Armijo later winced when he caught a low blow from Zubia near his groin.
“We wanted a clean fight and he’s relying on those tactics when he’s getting beat. Some guys fight that way,” Zubia said. “I was really trying to stay calm, especially with training partners like that, but you get caught up in the emotion.”
“I’m just trying to get used to this weight. Going down to 141 pounds is difficult,” Armijo said. “I wish I would have stayed at 152 this year, because that’s what I was walking around with all year. Coming down to 141 was kind of draining.”
Besides Sena and Zubia, three other reigning champs also successfully defended their state titles. At 112, Taos’ Michael Herrera repeated, as did Albuquerque’s Fidel Maldonado at 132 and fellow Albuquerque boxer Jesus Correa at 165.
Other champions crowned on Sunday were Luis Montano of Taos (106 pounds), Sammy Mena of Albuquerque (119), Yoel Gonzales of Albuquerque (125), Michael Gallegos of Albuquerque (152), Gerardo Quintana of Hobbs (178) and Ryan Gomez of Albuquerque (201).
GOLDEN GLOVES STATE CHAMPIONSHIP BOUTS
106 pounds: Luis Montano, Taos def. Daniel Pacheco, Albuquerque (TKO, 2nd)
112: Michael Herrera, Taos def. Angel Portillo, Las Cruces (decision)
119: Sammy Mena, Albuquerque def. Telford Harrison, Four Corners (decision)
125: Yoel Gonzales, Albuquerque def. Eric Gonzales, Albuquerque (decision)
132: Fidel Maldonado, Albuquerque def. Paul Castillo, Santa Fe (TKO, 1st)
141: Edgar Zubia, Hobbs def. Gabino Armijo, Portales (decision)
152: Michael Gallegos, Albuquerque def. David Pena, Las Cruces (TKO, 3rd)
165: Jesus Correa, Albuquerque def. Tony Martinez (decision)
178: Gerardo Quintana, Hobbs def. Tyler Cobb, Farmington (TKO, 1st)
201: Ryan Gomez, Albuquerque def. Charles Alderete, Albuquerque (decision)
201+: Elijio Sena, Clovis def. Mark Martinez, Hobbs (decision)