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Boxers golden in Cornwall

Local boxing coach Gord Appolloni was all smiles recently as his "one-two" Sudbury punch came through with flying colours at the 2014 Canadian Golden Gloves Championships in Cornwall.
A six-bout card at the Top Glove Boxing Academy provided plenty of entertainment for a packed house, and an even mix of official bouts and exhibition fights, with some athletes fighting out of their weight class to accommodate a relatively small number of opponents in the north.
Local boxing coach Gord Appolloni was all smiles recently as his "one-two" Sudbury punch came through with flying colours at the 2014 Canadian Golden Gloves Championships in Cornwall.

Representing Top Glove Boxing Academy, the duo of Nick Hechler and Jessica Brugess combined for a flawless two-for-two record, with both Northern Ontario pugilists returning home with gold medals.

Battling in the 57-kg Junior C male grouping, Hechler won a unanimous decision (3-0) over Alec Burns of the Bay Area Athletic Club in Burlington.

"My game plan was to keep my distance, keep him out, and if he comes in, clench him," said Heckler, during a recent practice session at the Top Glove Regent Street training venue.

"My main weapon is my jab. I have to keep that active, or else they'll come in close and work on my body."

Showcasing his most dominating performance to date, the 15-year-old boxer suggested that he got a much better feel for his work in the ring only after reviewing the fight tape.

"To be honest, I didn't even know that I was winning during the fight," said Hechler. "When I watched the video after, that's when I noticed that, wow, I really did demolish him."

With a previously injured right wrist now at 100 per cent, Hechler has incorporated both right uppercuts and right hooks more effectively in his arsenal, making far greater use of the shoulder feint, and simply moving a lot more in the ring.

His biggest obstacle remains the fact that with only a handful of bouts under his belt, Hechler is not yet considered an "Open" fighter, severely limiting the size of the pool of potential opponents.

"It's very, very frustrating," he said. "Going into the Golden Gloves, there were 15 fighters in our weight class. But then we had 10 or 11 that were open fighters." With a couple of no-shows added to the mix, it was suddenly just Hechler and Burns remaining.

For Brugess, limited competition comes part and parcel of being a female boxer. In 18-year-old Deyra Correa of Calgary, Alta., Brugess was facing an up-and-coming talent, one who had moved quickly through the ranks to ascend to the "Open" classification.

Undaunted, Brugess quickly established control, eventually taking a 3-0 decision in the four-round affair.

"About 20 seconds in, I threw a nice overhand right that landed really well and I thought, 'OK, I've got this girl,'" said Brugess.

"It was my best performance ever. The first time I watched it, of course, I saw all of the mistakes. But as I paid a little more attention to it, I realized that I had executed everything that I wanted to do in that fight."

At 33 years of age, Brugess is a relatively late entry to the world of amateur boxing. Thankfully, she's a very quick study, soaking in as much knowledge as she can, rapidly closing the gap against opponents with far more fights on their resumes.

"The main focus, recently, was learning how to move around my opponent, as well as learning how to draw punches a little more effectively," she said. "To make them throw something that you know is coming so that you can counter on that punch.

"I also have a tendency to go straight backwards, and sometimes I tend to punch on the fly and not plant my feet, but those were some of the smaller points that we were working on the past few months."

As dominant as Brugess was opposite the Bowmount Boxing Club teenager, there remained that constant reminder in the back of her mind not to let Correa off the hook.

"You open that door, just for a moment, to your opponent and that's when the lucky punch comes through and you end up on the canvas," said Brugess.

"You have to keep giving as much as you can give the whole way through."

Though upcoming bouts have yet to be confirmed for either Hechler or Brugess, the work in the gym keeps them busy, giving both athletes more than a fighting chance of continuing their impressive progress.