This past Friday, 32 fighters from 17 different clubs descended upon War Memorial Gym for the 9th Annual Hilltop Cup, the largest amateur boxing tournament in California. Boxers from all corners of the United States turned out to test their mettle in the ring for three furious two-minute rounds. As the host, USF Boxing was well represented with nine fighters donning the Green and Gold on Friday night against challengers from Santa Clara University, Emory University, the University of Hawaii, the University of Maryland, Old School Boxing Club, West Coast Boxing Club and the United States Navy. While USF fighters went 4-5 on the night, the fight of the night belonged to USF’s Nargis Shaghasi and Valeri Lo from the University of Hawaii in the night’s 14th bout.
Shaghasi, fighting out of the red corner, was under duress early as her opponent Lo threw twice as many punches in the first round. Nevertheless, Shaghasi was able to counter and jab her way to a slim lead after the opening round by throwing more disciplined punches than Lo. Continuing her all out assault against Shaghasi, Lo stayed true to her first round performance and pressed early in the second round. After trading blow for blow in the evenly matched bout, Shaghasi gave the crowd what they wanted halfway through the second round, courtesy of a vicious uppercut. The quick, powerful strike sent Lo to the floor and the crowd to their feet, cheering thunderously for the local favorite, who was victorious by knockout.
Shaghasi’s knockout of Lo was the second USF victory by way of K.O. on the night, as Mark Cabreto defended the Hilltop against Ronald Manuel of Santa Clara in the night’s fourth bout by knocking the Bronco to the mat and out of the fight. USF also tallied wins against the University of Maryland and the Old School Boxing Club, as Daniyar Tuyakbayev and Sebastian Doerner, respectfully, won on the judge’s score cards after exchanging blows with their challengers for three grueling rounds.
Friday night also saw one championship contest between defending champ and USF fighter Adrianna Boursalian and Leanna Racine from Emory University in Atlanta. Both fighters drew blood in what was the evenings most closely contested bout , and after four rounds, the judges scorecards were not kind to Boursalian, who lost the fight that, judging by the hail of booing from the crowd, many thought she had won.
The two smallest boxers at the Cup, 11-year-old Adrian Ramos of the 415 Boxing Club and 10-year-old Dante Kirkham of the B St. Boxing Club, sparred to the soundtrack of righteous cheering from the crowd, marveling as the pint sized fighters engaged each other with frightening ferocity in the opening bout. The older, heavier Ramos won by judges decision and had everyone smiling as the big kids stepped into the ring, with the biggest of them fighting in the 10th bout of the night. Weighting in at 193 pounds, Matt Rodriguez, fighting for the home team, touched gloves with Jesse Grano, the 190 pound sailor fighting on behalf of the U.S. Navy. The two amateur heavyweights exchanged deafening blows as gloves met flesh, but after three rounds, Grano had bested Rodriguez.
Along with being an excellent exhibition of amateur and collegiate boxing, Hilltop Cup IX had a charitable aspect to it. Proceeds from the event went to help the West Bay Filipino Multi-Service Center, a San Francisco based non-profit helping ethnic minorities with health care, education and day care. With over 1,000 attendees, Hilltop Cup IX was an overwhelming success for all parties, no matter which corner they stood in.