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Local boxers come out on top at amateur fight night

May 12, 2010
LAKES REGION — Things heated up at the Laconia Ice Arena last Saturday night when USA Amateur Boxing brought out the crowds for a 10-bout night of action featuring boxers from all over New England.

Presented by David Gates of Belmont, the event started out with the lighter weight classes, building anticipation for the final two fights that matched a local super heavy weight boxer with one from Vermont and two men from Gates' own gym against each other in a Master's Class heavy weight fight.

Local boxing enthusiasts waited all night to see 26-year-old Matt Polovick, a Gilford High graduate who, when not working out in the gym, is busy working at Fratello's Restaurant in Lincoln. Boxing was something Polovick had always wanted to try, he said; when he returned home after a stint in the Coast Guard he wanted to stay in shape and "stay out of trouble," so he began with mixed martial arts and eventually opted to stick with boxing.

Polovick gave the fans a lot to cheer about as he entered the ring for his third amateur fight. His opponent, Don Dutchess from Vermont, proved to be no match for his strength and skill, getting knocked down late in the second round and lasting less than a minute in the third. The crowd roared their approval as the local boxer won handily in a referee-shortened match.

The Masters Heavy Weight boxers took the ring for the last fight of the evening. Masters have different requirements through the Amateur Boxing Association. While each boxer is examined by a physician and weighed in before each event, Masters must bring a health report from their personal physician to show they are fit to fight.

For Saturday's Main Event, Eric Dawson, 36, was paired up with fellow Gates' boxer Paul Lerp, 38, of Laconia when their opponents failed to show up. Earlier in the evening the two chatted amicably about boxing against each other.

"We're friends but once the bell rings we won't be for about six minutes," Lerp said.

Lerp went on to taunt Dawson, saying the odds were 3-1 in his own favor that night. Dawson owns a concrete company in Tilton while Lerp is a roofer, and they joked about which trade would prove to be tougher when the third round came to an end.

Dawson had boxed earlier in his life and a year and a half ago decided he wanted "one last hoorah" before he was too old to box. He sees it as a great way to stay fit, and his trainer, Dickie Paulhus of the Tilton Police, said he makes certain Dawson is always in good fighting form. The two run each morning at 5 a.m. and work out regularly at Gates' gym.

"He makes me chase him around the track every morning and always pushes me one more level," Dawson said of Paulhus.

When the bell rang, the two men started out in a evenly matched bout, but the conditioning Dawson has had proved to be a bit better than Lerp's as he continued to dance around him and deliver one well-placed blow after another. In the end, it was Dawson who took the trophy when the final bell rang.

Lerp was bloodied by a cut to his brow, but the two embraced after the fight, proving their friendship did endure the tough competition of boxing.

A big disappointment to those who came to cheer for the local boxers was the removal of 16-year-old Belmont High student Oshee' Baugus from the ticket. Baugus's opponent, Ben Cozey of Vermont, weighed in 19 pounds lighter than Baugus early in the night. Cozey hurried off to eat as much as he could to get a closer weight to Baugus', but before their fight, official's told Gates they could not allow the two in the ring in good conscience. Boxers are to be within 10 pounds of each other to make it a proper match-up, and Cozey was still 14 pounds under weight for their fight.

"It's just too bad. Oshee' gave up his junior prom to fight tonight and now it's canceled," said his mom and assistant trainer, Leah Link.

Baugus was obviously disappointed by the news, but Gates was optimistic about his future and said the officials made the decision out of safety.

It was still a great evening for Gates Boxing, however, as Polovick was awarded the big trophy for top performance of the night and the Outstanding Fight trophy went to Lerp and Dawson.

A fifty-fifty raffle held during the event raised $234 for the St. Joseph Food Pantry in Belmont. The winner of the raffle in return donated his $234 to the pantry as well. Gates said he makes the donation to the pantry each year and is happy his gym can give something back to the community after each event.

Varney Smith
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