Resilience


Danny Vaz da Costa defeated 2016 Power Gloves champion Luis Cano at the Feb 3, 2017, Patrick J. Ryan show in what can only be described as a crowd-pleasing, hard-fought battle.

Cano came out strong, throwing many more punches per round than he did when the two elite division, 132 pounders from Chicagoland first faced each other. Danny expected a change in strategy from his opponent because he beat Cano in that 2015 bout. He had to wait and see before he could adjust, and that probably cost him round 1.

Danny’s adjustment was to increase his own punching output. That was not an obvious choice, but it worked. In the last round Danny threw 160 punches, 8 punches every 9 seconds on average. And these weren’t love taps either: both fighters threw power and were absolutely exhausted when the final bell rang. Danny clearly outscored Cano in rounds 2 and 3 to win by unanimous decision.

This was an especially satisfying outcome for Danny because he was returning to the ring after a loss in the 2016 Power Gloves that was followed by an injury suffered in training. Injury and year-end holidays kept Danny out of competition for three months.

Just prior to that forced hiatus Danny experienced a peak in his fighting performance when he defeated 2016 Chicago Golden Gloves champion Marcos Martinez at the Lifetime Fitness show in Skokie, IL. That fight was not unlike this weekend’s battle with Luis Cano, but at a more reasonable pace, which I think allowed Danny to be more discerning and accurate with his punches.

Danny did not win any championships in 2016, but he showed he has the resilience to overcome adversity and keep improving. And that is, perhaps, the mark of a true champion.

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Domination


Danny Vaz da Costa of FLO Boxing fought Allen Terry of Luyando Boxing at a private show last Thursday, 9/22/2016, in LaGrange, IL, which happens to be Danny’s birthplace. The Brazilian-American amateur boxer is always motivated to compete. Yet he couldn’t help attaching more importance to this bout in particular because of the location coincidence. He was visibly upset upon hearing the bout might not happen.

Amateur boxers are generally allowed to be up to 7 pounds above their division weight limit on bouts that are not part of a tournament. The weight limit for their lightweight bout was 132 lbs. Danny weighed in at 134 lbs, but at 140 lbs Mr. Terry came in a little too big. After a brief conference, Danny and coach Achour Esho decided to take the fight anyway. It had been two months since Danny’s last fight — more about that one in a later post — and he really wanted to fight.

After losing a close first round, Danny found his distance and proceeded to break down his opponent in the second round. He moved well and landed several jab-cross combinations and body shots, as the pictures above show. Round 3 was even more one-sided, with Mr. Terry throwing fewer punches while Danny landed all sorts of blows almost at will. The result of this domination was a unanimous decision. And a very entertaining fight!

Rematch

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In the last two weeks Danny Vaz da Costa of FLO Boxing fought Richard Pointer of Boxing 4 Boxers, Isaac Reyes of Rumi Maki, and then Pointer again in a decisive rematch from which the action shot above tells only part of the story.

Mr. Reyes, Danny’s opponent on the June 16th Ring of Dreams III event in Chicago, was expected to be a pressure fighter. He did come forward, but it seemed as if he got tired early and was not able to keep up with Danny, who scored with jabs and all sorts of combinations to win by unanimous decision. The event was well organized and the crowd especially enjoyed when the excellent DJ honored 2Pac’s birthday by playing a few of his hits. It was a fun evening, and the FLO Boxing team already looks forward to Ring of Dreams IV.

On the June 10th fight against Mr. Pointer, Danny landed 181 of the 330 punches he threw, while his opponent landed 66 of 186 thrown. Even so, the judges gave Pointer a split decision. It’s hard to understand how the judges could have seen the fight so differently from Danny’s corner and the outraged crowd in attendance at the Riverside Golf Club. Mr. Pointer’s coach, Anthony Ivory, is largely considered to be the best boxing trainer in Chicago. His fame and Pointer’s Muhammad Ali-inspired moves may have had something to do with the strange way the bout was scored.

The rematch, which took place at the Kemper Lakes Golf Club on June 24th, was an intense, measured fight. Danny’s approach was less emotional, more focused. He did not get impatient with his opponent’s counter-punching and inactivity. He still threw 58% more punches, but Pointer threw even fewer punches than he did the first time they fought. By the second round, though, Danny was timing Pointer’s counters perfectly and from then on he dominated. It was a pleasure to see.

Now the young man will enjoy some rest before we travel to California for the Desert Showdown tournament, where the competition may be stiff, but where at least the sounds of 2Pac are sure to welcome these Chicagolanders to the wild, wild west.

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Danny and Isaac Reyes at Ring of Dreams III

Moving On

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It’s not easy to report a loss, but I must mention that Danny Vaz da Costa lost his last two fights. In March, Danny lost to Yusif Saleh, the 2015 and 2014 champion, in the first round of the 2016 Chicago Golden Gloves. At the Copa Acopil III in April, he lost to the Potosino team captain, Kevin Zamarripa.

Sadly, Danny’s closest training partners also lost their last bouts. In the case of FLO Boxing teammate Raz Gavriluti, it was the Golden Gloves 152 lbs semi-final bout against Andres Lopez. Evan Perrault lost the 141 lbs final to an old rival in Kahleel Mosley.

The three elite amateur boxers felt these losses deeply and thought about the fights for a long time. Eventually they helped each other find the motivation to train hard again. And it was the hard work that finally allowed them to feel better and move on. What’s past is past. What matters now is the next fight.

While Raz will take some time to fully recover from a hand injury, Evan will travel to Indio, California, with Danny in July for the Desert Showdown, one of the largest amateur boxing tournaments in the US.

Before that, Danny will fight Ariel Bello of the Rumi Maki gym at the Ring of Dreams III event (see flyer above) in Chicago on June 16th. Danny and Ariel have fought before, and the rematch will be worth seeing.

2016 PJR Main Event

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Danny Vaz da Costa of FLO Boxing started 2016 with a bang: a win by unanimous decision over an explosive, experienced fighter in Paris Williams of Sam Colonna Boxing.

The 132-lb, open division bout took place on Feb 5th at the Patrick J Ryan Main Event in Oakbrook, IL. This was a nicer-than-average venue that included a large, carpeted backstage area for the boxers to eat, relax and warm up before the fights. Mr. Williams quietly entertained us dancing between the tables while listening to tunes on some flashy headphones. That put a smile on my face as I recalled the time he celebrated a win in the 2014 Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament by doing the splits in the ring. Paris is funny.

He and Danny sparred a couple of times in 2014 and were actually supposed to fight each other in this event exactly one year ago. For some reason known only to the matchmaker, they ended up matched with other guys instead. They remained friendly but have not sparred again, since they were likely to fight each other in the future. That day arrived as they prepared for the 2016 Golden Gloves. The stakes were high, and any trace of levity was gone from their faces when the fighters got in the ring. It was on.

Paris won round one. He is a strong guy, and Danny did not want to risk getting caught early. In the second round Danny stayed outside and scored with lead rights and stiff jabs through the guard, as seen in the picture above. In the last round Danny was able to unleash multiple-punch combinations to the head and body that went mostly unanswered by his clearly frustrated opponent. All judges scored the bout 29-28.

Danny’s close friends and training partners Evan Perreault and Raz Gavriluti, pictured to his left below, also won their bouts at 141 and 151 lbs, respectively. Besides working with their own coaches, the trio has been doing special hill-repeat workouts under trainer Miguel “Rico” Gonzalez every Sunday, regardless of weather conditions. Their wins this weekend demonstrate that, as Danny said the other day, “hard work pays off!”

Well done, guys. You make me proud.

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The 2015 Power Gloves Tournament

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Danny Vaz da Costa fought two opponents with many more fights than him at the 5th Annual Power Gloves Tournament in Chicago during the first weekend of December. He boxed a puncher on Saturday and roughed up a boxer on Sunday to bring home the belt.

Luis Cano, the oldest of the famed Cano brothers of Oswego, IL, tends to plant his feet and hit hard. Danny, the taller fighter, stayed outside, moved well, and threw 301 punches to Cano’s 234. Yes, we counted the punches and that’s 29% more. The first round may have been close, but Danny clearly won rounds 2 and 3.

The other 132 lb open division finalist was Cortez Todd. A nationally-ranked amateur, Mr. Todd won the 2015 Detroit Golden Gloves at 123 lbs and advanced to the National semi-finals in May. Since then Cortez has gone up in weight. Yet, he still showed a lightening fast jab. After taking an eight-count in round 1, Danny adapted. He fought in close range, applied unrelenting pressure and ended up throwing 55% more punches than his opponent to win by split decision.

Danny showed maturity beyond his mere 25 fights. If he had tried to box Cortez he would have lost. He understood that and did what he had to do. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. And therefore it was a beautiful victory.

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Chicago vs. Detroit

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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.