(EDITOR’S NOTE: Funeral was held on Monday in Dallas for 19 year old soccer and boxing talented Manny Guerrero. Since joining up with Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, Guerrero had won 10 bouts, including a Police Athletic League tournament recently.)
If you learn anything after decades of sports-writing, you learn that the “grabber” is more often than not who won and who lost the fight, the game or the race. It’s the story behind the story that makes the (Olympics) Games that young people play so fascinating.
Naturally, everyone at Dallas’ go to boxing gym, Arnie Verbeek’s well-appointed Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, is thrilled about 22 year old welterweight and gym member Errol Spence’s 16-8 victory over the older three time Brazilian Olympian Myke Ribeiro de Carvalho in the London Games on Sunday.
Shifty southpaw Spence, a bright and personable boxer of Jamaican descent, won his “Round of 32” event by a decisive 16-8 margin. No question that three time USA amateur champ Spence won each round, chalking up 5-3 and then 7-4 scores to take a 12-7 advantage into round three. Spence was cautious in the final round but won it also to advance to the “Round of 16.”
“We’re so, so proud of Errol,” Dutch native Verbeek told me Monday morning. “How many USA gyms can make the claim that one of their kids is shining on the Olympic stage? We’re bursting with pride but now EJ has a tougher foe in third-seeded Krishan Vikas of India. EJ hasn’t seen or boxed the Indian kid before. EJ needs to sidestep his opponents more instead of backing up because he sidesteps beautifully.”
The Maple Avenue Gym habitues couldn’t sidestep a tragic occurrence when another gym regular, troubled 19 year old Manny Guerrero was found dead last Wednesday of a drug overdose. The boxer’s body was found in a car not far from the gymnasium. Guerrero was a soccer standout making the transition to boxing.
“Tough blow for all of us,” Verbeek said. “Manny was a good kid and had real promise.”
A rising pro prospect at the gym is Alex “Cholo” Saucedo, age 18 and a welterweight who next fights in Dallas on Aug. 11. Saucedo, born in Chihuahua, Mexico, came to Maple Avenue from Oklahoma City and is now 4-0 with three KOs.
He’s sparred with Spence and sees his gym teammate returning from the UK with a shiny Olympic medal.
“I hope he does it, I think he can, I think he will,” Saucedo said. “He probably won’t be so nervous now after getting that first victory. Now he is an Olympic boxer for real. We’ll all be watching him and cheering for our guy.”
(Courtesy of Boxingscene, these post bout comments from Spence)
Asked about the U.S. team’s 4-0 start at the London Games following his bout Spence said, “It says a lot. We’re ready. We all worked hard…we just want to bring a Gold Medal home to America.”
Spence also answered questions about the fast start he got off to. “I just believed in myself, picked up the pace, and took the momentum away from him. I was little rusty, it’s the preliminaries, and then I got used to him.”
And now ow you know the “story behind the story” as to how a USA boxer brought some needed cheer back to his hometown gym.