Photos: Rockford Boxing Classic 2023
The Rockford Boxing Classic appears here to stay.
Last year’s inaugural RBC drew a big crowd to the Rockford City Market pavilion. It featured a return to the ring after a four-year absence by Angel Martinez, who won six national titles and seemed to have a good shot at becoming Rockford’s first Olympic boxer since Kenny Gould won a bronze medal 35 years ago.
Saturday’s main event featured a policeman having his first-ever boxing match. And the free event in downtown Rockford featuring 13 amateur boxing matches drew an even bigger crowd.
“Last year I could walk all the way through here,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said. “This year, it’s packed.
“Rockford comes out for free family events. And when you also get to see some amazing talent from Rockford Patriots Boxing Club, it makes it all the better.”
Hundreds of fans of all ages and races surrounded the ring.
“It’s exciting,” Clarence Foote, 72, of Rockford said. “Something different. I decided to see what it’s all about. You can’t beat it for the price.”
“For a free set-up,” said Mike Solimine, 42, of Elgin, “this area is fantastic.”
For Rockford boxers, it was a rare opportunity to take center stage in their hometown.
“It felt really good to showcase my boxing skills in front of all of these people,” said Yahel Flores, 15, of Belvidere, who improved to 85-30 in his amateur career with a unanimous decision at 114 pounds.
Flores, Hulian Lugo, 19, and Gavin Bernal were the three most accomplished Rockford boxers at the event.
Lugo is thinking about turning pro in a year or so. Flores and Bernal won national Silver Gloves titles (for boxers ages 10 to 15) in 2020. Bernal, a 16-year-old junior at Jefferson, also won again in 2021.
“I compete at the national level in the ring,” Bernal said, “but what I like about this is I am able to show Rockford what I am all about and my family gets to go to the event and a lot of my teammates get to see me.”
Flores, Lugo and Bernal all won Saturday, but none of the three is a name yet in Rockford. That’s how policeman James “Champ” Nachampassack wound up as the main event against Rockford fireman Ryan Taylor.
“It had to be Jimmy,” Nachampassack said of organizer Jimmy Goodman, Jr. “It has Jimmy written all over it,”
Goodman said he has more than 100 kids working out at his downtown boxing gym every week but few see them or know that. So he capitalized on the big brother/littler brother type rivalry between policemen and firemen to drum up interest.
“Who is the big brother?,” Nachampassack said before losing to Ryan Taylor. “Obviously, it is the police department.”
My’Aire King, 17, graduated from East this spring and won a unanimous decision in his bout Saturday night. It was highlighted by rocking his foe in the novice 140-pound division with a straight right in the final minute of the three-round bout.
“It felt good to land a flush right hand,” King, now 4-1 in his career, said. “I noticed he was dropping his hands. I saw an opening and took it. I wanted to put on a show for all the people who came out to watch. I love it when different crowds come out, try something new and watch some boxing.”
Contact: email@example.com, @matttrowbridge or 815-987-1383. Matt Trowbridge has covered sports for the Rockford Register Star for over 30 years, after previous stints in North Dakota, Delaware, Vermont and Iowa City.