August 29, 2011
Cortland boxing show a big success for hosts
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
CNY Boxing Club fighters Benjamin Tyree (left) and Chris Caughey exchange punches Saturday during the opening outdoor boxing match at the Cortland County Junior Fairgrounds. Tyree took a close decision in the first of eight bouts hosted by the Cortland club.
Besides dealing with the normal nerves that arrive before stepping into a boxing ring, Cortland’s Chris Tier had an additional concern late Saturday afternoon.
Preferring to perform as a pugilist without any family members looking on, for this annual amateur show — put on by his own Central New York Boxing Club of Cortland — Tier was well aware his sister had a pretty good ringside vantage point. She had been asked to help out the ring physician as an Emergency Medical Technician for the eight bouts held adjacent to the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex.
“I never had family at my fights, so the pressure was really bad. I was freaking out a little bit,” admitted the 24-year-old Tier prior to facing Watertown’s Quenton Bracey in the card’s final featured fight. Tier was also anxious to avenge an earlier decision loss to this same Black River Boxing Academy foe in just his second appearance in the elite Open Division of amateur boxing.
The 152-pound Tier would make his sister proud by pounding out a major decision in the three-round rematch against the crafty southpaw. He closed out what was later selected as the ‘Match of the Night’ with some damaging blows after pinning Bracey against the ropes just prior to the final bell.
That capped a performance that saw CNY Boxing Club fighters win five of the seven bouts they were involved in — to the delight of instructor and event manager Randy Smith. Tier’s decision victory, a decisive win by 145-pound southpaw Mike Taylor in his first Open Division appearance and Janice Heyer’s three-round victory over Robbi Cook in a women’s showdown at 140 pounds were the highlights singled out by Coach Smith.
The show started with a pair of CNY Boxing Club boxers squaring off, a tiring Benjamin Tyree winning a decision over Chris Caughey despite being given a pair of standing eight counts after being dazed in the final round. In a match-up at 155 pounds, Cortland’s Kyle Aldrich stopped Philip Morano of the Black River Boxing Club in the second round.
As for the CNY Boxing Club’s setbacks, at 200 pounds Matt Kuray of the CNY Binghamton team won a decision over Cortland’s Robert Schmit. At 155 pounds, CNY Binghamton’s Andrew White won a second round TKO over Cortland High student Mike Martin at 155.
In the only bout not featuring a local fighter, 190-pounder Mike Lorenz of CNY Binghamton won a decision over Andy Halladay of Watertown.
THE BOXING SHOW was part of a special day that started with a fund-raising barbecue prior to the matches held in an outside ring assembled beneath a Cortland County Fairgrounds pavilion before a couple of hundred fight fans.
Though Cortland has hosted summer boxing events before, this was the first, and not the last, time they have tried something on a bigger scale. The long list of sponsors for the event included Jim Neal’s Preble Tents, The 4-H Club, the Cortland Flower Shop, Price-Chopper, J.M. McDonald Sports Complex, Grand Rental Station, Brix (which hosted a post-fight gala), CNY Boxing, C.P. Cash & Carry, USA Boxing, Bernard’s Custom Logo, the Cortland Beer Company and Max Graphics.
Cortland native Smith — who has boxed professionally and will be defending his Mixed Martial Arts Northeast heavyweight championship on Oct. 7 in Boston — has been in charge of the CNY Boxing Club for a year now. He and Tier are the main instructors, in fact.
“I’ve got a great group of kids here and I’ve got a good supporting cast,” said Smith after the team posed for pictures in the ring after Saturday’s successful festivities. “I’m a good trainer because I’ve had good trainers. It all flows downhill from there.
“It’s our system. A lot of gyms go out and they scout for talent, they bring in talent. A lot of these kids today, until they start boxing with us they’ve never been in a fight or had a match in their life,” he added. “We develop, and that’s the stamp of our school. We can take a kid that’s never competed before and, with his help, pushing him to work, can develop him into a high level boxer.”
Tier got into boxing after looking for a way to get back in shape after graduating from Cortland High and seeing his weight surpass 200 pounds. He has now been in over 30 fights, working his way up to the Open Division.
Taylor was in just his sixth fight, and first in the Open Division, and dominated Watertown’s Vinnie DeNiero over three crisp rounds — DeNiero a veteran with over 50 fights on his resume. “He just got back to training three weeks ago. He’s got all the talent in the world,” said Smith of Taylor.
HEYER, WHO IS now 4-2 as a boxer and a former Golden Gloves runner-up, was looking for structure in her life after moving to Cortland from outside of New York City eight years ago. She has found that in the ring, where she used her height advantage to handle Cook from the Standing Rock Boxing Club.
“I went through a lot of stuff, did a lot of growing up,” said Heyer, a 24-year-old who moved down a weight class to take on Cook at 140 pounds. “I connect boxing and the discipline that goes with it to some things you need for everyday life. It’s helped me to channel some energy. That’s good for me.”
So the CNY Boxing Club is a perfect fit for her. “It’s great, awesome. They’re super mentally, physically, spiritually... everything,” says Heyer.
“She’s a tough chick, man,” said Smith of Heyer, who doesn’t have any trouble treating a girl as an equal when it comes to ring work.
“We have a sign up on the cage (at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex) when we walk in up there that you leave your shoes and your ego outside. As a fight team I say you leave your shoes, your ego and your sexuality on the outside here. You’re all the same here. You’re not men or women. You’re all fighters here,” noted Smith.
That goes for Cortland High grad Caughey, too, who was by far the oldest competitor at age 32 and has been with the CNY Boxing Club for only a few months. Now taking classes at SUNY Cortland after serving in the Army and spending two stints in the Middle East with humvee crew, Caughey wasn’t discouraged despite debating his loss in the opening bout when be dominated the final round against Tyree.
“It just makes me want to get right back in the ring,” he said after his loss.
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