After much physical and mental preparation, boxing competitors gathered in the Swig Gym of the Koret Health and Recreation Center for this year’s Hilltop Cup. Boxers from various colleges and gyms competed against one another for the coveted winning title and champion boxing belt of their weight division.
For this year’s Hilltop Cup, the Swig Gym was transformed from a three-paneled basketball court to the center of USF’s most anticipated boxing events of the year. Attendees slowly filled up seats as event coordinators set up the red, white and blue color-schemed boxing ring. The matches kicked off about an hour later than expected at 7:15 p.m. After a prayer, scripture reading and the singing of the national anthem led by USF Voices, an entertaining first bout riled up the spirits of the crowd.
This year’s competitors came from the following schools and gyms: UC Berkeley (Cal), CCSF, Chabot College, College of Marin, SFSU, SJSU, UCLA, USC, USF and the CYC Gym.
As the night unfolded, each bout brought out the aggressive, vibrant force of each boxer. From the ruthlessness of USF’s Fernandez against USF’s Bowen, to the quick feet of USC’s Brina against SJSU’s Mai, the night was filled with unexpected twists and turns. In one of the night’s most rousing bouts, USF’s Nunez took on USF’s Rodriguez in the 201-pound weight division. Nunez stirred up the spirits of the crowd after he fell to the floor, quickly bounced back and strived to fit in a couple jabs and counter-punches to his opponent to make up for his blunder.
As with a few other competitors including his own, this was Nunez’s first Hilltop Cup experience. Though Nunez, a senior at USF, lost the fight, he reports, “I had a lot of fun. I love getting hit. [Rodriguez] got me good.”
The crowd’s enthusiasm only increased as the rest of the night progressed. In the 138-pound girl vs. girl duel between Yang of Cal and Littlefield of USF, school spirit rose. The first round between the fit, powerful pair brought yelps and hollers from supporters of Cal as Yang came out with merciless blows on Littlefield. However, with a burst of energy and determination, Littlefield made her comeback in the second and third round, releasing what seemed to be nonstop jabs and hits at her opponent. Littlefield went on to win the bout.
The main event stirred up the most shock among the Hilltop crowd. In this final match, USF’s powerful, rugged Haffner took on an equally sturdy, robust Dunbar of Chabot College. Building up from the previous bouts, the main event prompted the crowd to much applause and encouraging words for their respective teams. About two minutes into the first round, Haffner and Dunbar each took a few blows to the head and chest. In the next minute, Haffner managed to corner Dunbar, throwing numerous hooks and jabs at his opponent, eventually knocking Dunbar to the ground.
Dunbar failed to beat the 10 count by the referee, making Haffner the winner of the main event due to a knock out. Weighing in at 175 pounds each, many imagined the fight would have lasted longer than it did. USF sophomore Adam Molina stated, “What a crazy match. I thought they would’ve gone through all three rounds.”
Throughout the intercollegiate event, countless bouts brought about bloody, sweat-glistened fighters and encouraging, enthusiastic crowd supporters. Though the distinguished Hilltop Cup stirs strong spirits of competitiveness and ambition, the matches are all in good spirit. Winners of each bout received a boxing belt and runner-ups received a respectable medal.
Keeping the crowd’s spirits and energy high, USF’s Hawaiian Ensemble and Zumba class performed dance numbers during the Hilltop’s intermission.
Funds from the Hilltop Cup benefited USF’s Boxing Team and the Saber es Poder Scholarships.
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