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Boxing: Martinez continues the tradition of N.M. lefties

Elijah Martinez, right, tries to land a right hand during Saturday’s bout against Josue Reyes. Martinez won the 138-pound championship bout.

Elijah Martinez, right, tries to land a right hand during Saturday’s bout against Josue Reyes. Martinez won the 138-pound championship bout.

New Mexico: land of White Sands, the Carlsbad Caverns, the Sandia Peak Tram and really good southpaw boxers.
Kirtland’s Elija Martinez, a talented left-hander in the tradition of fellow New Mexicans Austin Trout, Holly Holm and Fidel Maldonado Jr., defeated Albuquerque’s Josue Reyes Saturday night for the men’s junior 138-pound title at the Western Elite Qualifier & Regional Open Championships at the Convention Center.
The bout ended in the third round on a doctor’s advice as blood flowed freely from Reyes’ nose. Twice, the Albuquerque boxer was given standing eight-counts after being stunned by Martinez flurries.
For Martinez, this newest trophy might be tough to fit onto a crowded mantel. As noted by his father and coach, Eli Martinez, the Kirtland teenager has won lots of hardware on his journey through the various age groups at the state, regional and national levels.ccffv
“I felt confident for this tournament,” the younger Martinez said. “We trained hard for this.”
In other bouts involving New Mexico fighters:
Los Lunas’ Elyza Peralta won by split decision over Brittany Sims in the women’s Elite Division 125-pound title bout. All of Saturday‘s Elite champions qualify for USA Boxing nationals, scheduled for December.
Jolene Bottini took the girls 101-pound Junior title, defeating Los Lunas High School classmate Estrellita Iturralde by unanimous decision.
Albuquerque’s Sharayha Moreu overpowered Nayrijah Yellowman, stopping the Shiprock fighter by TKO in 1:56 of the first round in taking the women’s Youth 152-pound title.
In a women’s Youth Division 125-pound bout, Dallas’ Destiny Jasso stopped Kirtland’s Aiyonan Williams by first-round TKO.
In the final bout of the four-day tournament, five-time national champion Cam F. Awesome of Lenexa, Kan., stopped Michael Graves of Las Vegas, Nev., by second-round TKO in an Elite Division heavyweight bout.
Peralta, a nationally ranked boxer, turned back a strong challenge from Sims.
“She was a very powerful opponent,” Peralta said. “I was just trying to get my punches in and
dominate the fight.”
After a back-and-fourth first round, Sims appeared to have the edge in the second — landing a series of hard counter shots. But the third, other than one good Sims right hand, belonged to Peralta. The School of Dreams Academy senior threw the tighter, more accurate punches.
“As the rounds progressed, I feel like she got a little bit gassed throwing those hard rights,” Peralta said. “I learned how to get around them.”
Bottini, facing a heavy-handed opponent in Iturralde, used movement, straighter punches and a stiff jab to earn her championship trophy.
“I just wanted to go out there and give it my all,” she said. “I just wanted to shine in the ring, and today I got the win.”
Iturralde, who had stopped her semifinal opponent with powerful shots, landed some of those against her fellow Los Lunas Tiger — but too few to sway the judges.
It was Bottini’s second second victory over Iturralde, the first coming by split decision last month.
“She’s a great fighter,” Bottini said of Iturralde. Of their personal relationship, she said, “We have a couple of classes together, but we don’t really socialize.”
Moreu, a USA Boxing Youth National team member who normally fights at 165 pounds, lost 13 pounds in order to have a fight in the tournament. No other fighter entered at 165.
Her punches twice prompted the referee to give Yellowman standing eight-counts and then to stop the fight
“I didn’t want to be unopposed (at 165),” Moreu said. “I said, ‘I’m gonna have to get down to 152, because I want to fight.’ … I did all my hard work and got it done.
“Now I’m happy, because I earned this championship.”
As a member of the Youth national team, Moreu will travel in April to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where she’ll represent the U.S. In international competition against Ukraine and India.

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