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.
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.
According to the judges, Kevin Delgado won his fight against Danny Vaz da Costa. But many disagreed with that decision, including most of the audience at the Teamsters City Auditorium Friday night and even a couple of coaches from Delgado’s gym.
The Oakley Fight Club fighter started strong, but Danny adjusted and matched Delgado’s intensity by the end of round 1. Then Danny proceeded to throw almost twice as many punches as his opponent in rounds 2 and 3. Danny is an accurate puncher who hits hard. Delgado looked miserable and wouldn’t even look Danny in the eye after the fight. From my point-of-view, it wasn’t even a close fight.
For example, in the second round Danny threw a short hook-cross combination as a feint and quickly followed it with a long left hook that landed on the chin and made Delgado stumble back. When Delgado regained his balance his face met Danny’s glove again. That’s the straight left you see in the picture above.
What is most upsetting is not that the judges would give the win to the fighter from the gym hosting the event. Unfortunately, that kind of favoritism is common in amateur boxing. A fighter in Danny’s position often has to stop his opponent to get a win, and he took the fight knowing that. Had the rounds been 3 minutes long, as open-division rounds are supposed to be, Danny could have stopped Delgado. These guys are not novice fighters anymore. Why were the rounds only 2 minutes long?
Of all aspects of the sport, conditioning is the most important for a boxer. The logic behind the statement is irrefutable: if a fighter is too tired to do anything right, his skill, speed, power, toughness and intelligence are worthless. Danny came prepared and after a mere six minutes of fighting felt he could have gone another three rounds, while Mr. Delgado looked tired.
It’s safe to say that Danny was robbed of the time he needed to stop his opponent and avoid leaving the outcome to the judges’ subjective, inaccurate and possibly unethical decision.
Luckily, a rematch is likely. If Delgado stays at 132 lbs and fights in the Chicago area, he should face Danny again before long.
Danny Vaz da Costa of FLO Boxing and Kevin Delgado of the Oakley Fight Club have one thing in common: their Chicago Golden Gloves finals opponent was Isaac Lujano. Delgado defeated Lujano in 2013 at 123 lbs, and Danny beat him at 132 lbs in 2014. The two GG champs will face each other in a 132 lb open division bout on 10/16 at the Teamsters City Auditorium (328 S. Marshfield Ave, Chicago). It should be a good one.
On a separate update, I had my first boxing class yesterday and the second one today. Jab, cross, hook, uppercut. It was just like riding a bike, except the bike was on fire, the ground was on fire, and I was on fire. Everything was on fire because I was in hell.
Since I started recording Danny’s boxing fights in this blog, I’ve become a bit of a student of the sweet science. I watch pro fights on TV, read blogs and talk about boxing with a few fighters I know. It’s necessary research that I enjoy doing.
The other day I was discussing training methodology with a boxer I know, and we disagreed. He said the approach in question — more about that in a future blog, perhaps — would not work for him because boxing is different. I thought he was wrong, but what do I know?
To be honest, I only know one thing about training as a boxer: it’s intense. But it might be fundamentally different from training in karate or cycling, the sports in which I competed. So I decided to join Danny’s gym and find out. Call it research that I may or may not enjoy doing. I start this tomorrow, and I’ll let you know how it goes.
Proud Boxing Dad
Danny won his fight against Ariel Bello of Rumi Maki by unanimous decision this past Thursday, 8/20, at the Glen Flora Country Club in Waukegan, IL.
This was an unusual bout for Danny. At 5’10” and 132 lbs, he usually faces stockier, physically stronger guys like Paris Williams, his intended opponent for the event. When Mr. Williams did not show up, the organizers paired Danny with Mr. Bello, who was in a different weight class at 123 lbs.
Besides the size advantage, Danny also enjoyed an experience advantage. While this was one of Ariel’s first fights in the open division (for those with more than 10 fights) Danny has been open since last year.
The fighters had sparred each other before, so Danny knew not to underestimate this very skilled opponent. Plus, it seems that all boxers from the Rumi Maki gym come to fight prepared and in good shape. Still, the scorecards showed a lopsided win: 30-27, 30-26 and 30-26.
Danny defeated Anthony Rutkowski of Grand Rapids, MI, by TKO two minutes into round 2 of their 132 lbs open division bout today at the Toyota Park Invitational.
Danny always finishes strong, but Rutkowski, a physically strong and awkward lefty, gave Danny an eight-count in the first round. Things did not look good for the young Brazilian.
After hearing some choice words from one of his coaches, Olympic alternate Miguel “Rico” Gonzalez, Danny did better in round 2. He followed a few hooks to the body with several unanswered blows to the head, only stopping the flurry when Mr. Rutkowski’s corner threw in the towel. It was an exciting fight.
His next fight will be a private show (meaning it’s not open to the general public) at the Glen Flora Country Club in Waukegan, IL, this Thursday, 8/20.