Danny defeated Nermin Zalic of the Motown Boxing Gym at the Chicago vs. Detroit Amateur Boxing event in Libertyville, IL, this weekend even though, at 142 lbs, Mr. Zalic belonged in a different weight class.
The Detroit boxer was strong and tall, so Danny fought from outside in the first round. Zalic landed one good jab and quite a few slaps to Danny’s head. When Danny easily slipped Zalic’s wild attempts toward the end of the round, they both knew the next round would be very different.
And it was. Danny repeatedly hit Zalic with rapid-fire combinations mixing head and body shots, and at one point Zalic’s headgear flew off. While they waited for the headgear to be put back on, Danny looked ready to charge across the ring, but round 2 ended just a couple of seconds after the fight resumed.
Midway through the third round Zalic’s body English was saying “I don’t want to do this anymore.” He either got tired or was hurt by the body shots Danny landed in vicious combinations. Danny also hit him on the head at will, leading with the right beautifully. To his credit, except for the occasional grunt, Zalic took the punishment without losing composure.
That night Danny showed he can punch above his weight, as they say, and won a well-deserved belt for a clear win. Fellow Lake Zurich resident and training partner Razvan Gavriluti, pictured above with Danny and coach Osh Esho, also won his bout decisively and contributed to Team Chicago’s 7 victories against Detroit’s 5.
After about a month of boxing classes at Danny’s gym, I got to spar this week. I don’t remember much of what happened. I do remember some of what I heard.
— “Kevin, are you sparring today? Yeah? Wanna spar with my dad? It’s his first time. Go easy.”
Even though Kevin went easy, his first jab hit me on the forehead and snapped my head back. That didn’t hurt, I thought. My arms moved in strange ways trying to block punches and I got tired quickly, but before the half-way mark I was able to land a few punches. Kevin let me have some fun.
The one punch I remember landing nicely was a straight left to the solar-plexus. I had switched to a lefty stance (right foot forward) and led with the left hand, stepping in a little. This was a modified karate reverse-punch, modified in that the hand that was not punching went up to my right cheek instead of down to the hip where it would have gone in a karate punch.
I heard the sound my glove made against Kevin’s body, then I heard laughter. I’d been able to overcome the bad habit of pulling the non-punching hand low, but had been unable to suppress the karate yell, which came out particularly loud: “yaaaaahh!” I guess it was pretty funny.
I flailed my arms some more, threw a combination, maybe a weak hook or two and then got so tired I could barely move. Kevin was very patient and kind. Right before the end of the three-minute round he threw a jab to the tip of my chin. That was his way of saying “tuck your chin in, man”. I heard that.