NORTH LIMA - Thursday was Richard Palmer's first fight at the K.O. Drugs Boxing Tournament, but it's something he's been preparing for since he was in elementary school.
"I fought once when I was 7 years old," the Niles freshman said. "It was nothing like this. This fight was fast, physical and seemed like it took forever."
Palmer held off Brian Norris of Farrell, Pa., in three 45-second rounds to earn a unanimous decision in the underclassmen super middleweight division. Palmer will fight again on April 3 at the North Lima Business Complex.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Howland’s Jason Blosser, left, and Mohawk’s Steve Cooper mix it up in an underclass super middleweight match during the opening night of the 2014 K.O. Drugs Boxing Tournament.
"I wanted to get up on him quick and just throw as many power punches as I could," Palmer said. "I knew that my opponent would be just as prepared as I was. I knew I had to come out there swinging."
His father, Rick, has built a boxing gym in a shed in the family's backyard. For the last two years, Palmer has been training extensively with his dad.
"We work with the speed bag, punching bag and mitts," said Palmer, who also plays football for the Red Dragons. "I just haven't had a real fight until now. I wasn't sure if I would win, but I'm pretty proud of myself."
UNDERCLASS DIVISION RESULTS (9th & 10th graders)
Bantamweight - Portez Smith (Farrell) def. Emmanuel Padilla (Youngstown Christian), unanimous decision.
Bantamweight - Re'yan Hammonds (Farrell) def. Collin Razo (South Range), unanimous decision.
Lightweight - Jonathan Swoboda (South Range) def. Alex Burson (Western Reserve), unanimous decision.
JR. Welterweight - Terrance Holloway (Farrell) def. John Kolarik (South Range), unanimous decision.
JR. Welterweight -Kyle West (Canfield) def. Lee'shon Pinkins (Farrell), unanimous decision.
Welterweight - Austin Gibson (Home School) def. James Defrank (Girard), unanimous decision.
Welterweight - David Scyoc (Leetonia) def. Mike Syphord (Canfield), TKO, Round 2.
Welterweight - Brandon Funera (New Castle) def. Ethan Demint (Champion), unanimous decision.
JR. Middleweight - Devan Treharn (Liberty) def. Hunter Bukovac (Austintown Fitch), unanimous decision.
Middleweight - Mike Zarbaugh (McDonald) def. Joe Vitko (Leetonia), unanimous decision.
Middleweight - Antonio Maxon (Farrell) def. Brian Frye (Southington), unanimous decision.
Super Middleweight - Richard Palmer (Niles) def. Brian Norris (Farrell), unanimous decision.
Super Middleweight - Jason Blosser (Howland) def. Steve Cooper (Mohawk), unanimous decision.
Light Heavyweight - Kimonie Bryant (Youngstown Christian) def. Chris Droege (Austintown Fitch), TKO, Round 2.
Light Heavyweight - Kody Kolarik (South Range) def. David Swope (Brookfield), unanimous decision.
Light Heavyweight - Noah Arness (Poland) def. Austin Piper (South Range), split decision.
Heavyweight - Travis Metz (Mathews) def. Chris Kosonovich (Columbiana), split decision.
Heavyweight - Andrew Cree (LaBrae) def. Darrick Alvarez (Youngstown Christian), unanimous decision.
UPPERCLASS DIVISION RESULTS (11th & 12th graders)
JR. Welterweight - Addison Richards (Youngstown Christian) def. Ashtin Hellman (MCCTC), unanimous decision.
Welterweight - Chase Johnson (Lisbon) def. Cody Powell (Champion), TKO, Round 1.
Welterweight - Riquan Jones (Farrell) def. Josh Faulkner (Leetonia), unanimous decision.
Jr. Middleweight - Gavin Clark (Lakeview) def. Brock Garretson (Howland), unanimous decision.
JR. Middleweight - Mathew Wood (Mohawk) won by default over Tyler Cvetkovich (McDonald).
Middleweight - Rashan Bell (Youngstown Christian) def. John Prebonik (Champion), split decision.
Middleweight - Logan Malik (Lisbon) def. Nick Brunelle (New Castle), split decision.
Super Middleweight - Mike Sullivan (Struthers) def. Johnny Sprague (West Branch), TKO, Round 2.
Super Middleweight - Davonte Gist (Beaver Local) def. Austin Colburn (McDonald), unanimous decision.
Light Heavyweight - Eric Liston (South Range) def. Reed Scott (Hubbard), unanimous decision.
Cruiserweight - Jesse Burkey (Lakeview) def. Angelo Freed (Mathews), TKO, Round 1.
Heavyweight - Dominic Martucci (Neshannock) def. Christian Shedosky (South Range), unanimous decision.
Heavyweight - Colten Nitzsky (Jackson-Milton) def. Tyler Richter (Boardman), unanimous decision.
Super Heavyweight - Sam Steininger (Western Reserve) def. Shawn McKinnon, unanimous decision.
Super Heavyweight - Danny Donohue (Lisbon) def. John Guzaski (MCCTC), TKO. Round 1.
Family encouragement also played a role in McDonald freshman Mike Zarbaugh's decision to take part in the 27th annual tournament.
His older brother, Johnny, was a three-time champion a few years ago.
"I've been watching him box forever," said Zarbaugh, who earned a unanimous decision over Leetonia's Joe Vitko. "My whole family motivated me and wanted to see me out here."
Zarbaugh earned a first-round knockdown and got to Vitko throughout the second and third rounds with strong body shots. He plans to harness his energy more for the later rounds at his semifinal bout next week.
"It feels longer than it actually is," Zarbaugh said. "At the time, you get tired. Right now, now that I'm out, it doesn't even feel like I had a fight."
Zarbaugh has been training with the McDonald track team and runs the 100, 200, 400 and participates in long jump.
"I'm new to boxing and it's something I'd like to stick to for my high school career," he said. "I get good grades, though. I don't want to mess up my head too much. Too many shots to the head can do that."
Thursday also was Jason Blosser's first time in the ring. The Howland sophomore earned a unanimous decision in the super middleweight division over Steve Cooper of Mohawk High School in Bessemer, Pa., thanks to his quick feet and fast reflexes when dodging a punch.
"The adrenaline was pumping very fast," Blosser said. "I was trying to land my own punches and work away. I need to work on my stamina more for next week."
Liberty's Devan Treharn is a seasoned veteran in the boxing ring, even though he's just a freshman. At last year's K.O. Drugs tournament, Treharn was an eighth-grade champion. However, he had just one fight on the final day.
"I'm glad to be back this year," said Treharn, who outlasted Hunter Bukovac of Austintown Fitch for a unanimous decision. "It's been a while since I fought and I thought I was going to throw up after that first round."
His bout with Bukovac looked to be knotted up after two rounds. The straps on Treharn's gloves came undone three times in those rounds, but a quick series of bunches to begin the third left no doubt that Treharn would be the winner.
"I was pumped up going into the last round because I knew what I had to do," Treharn said. "That made me so mad when the straps came loose because it was when I was beating down on him.
"We'll just have to glue them shut or something next time."
In the heavyweight division, Mathews' Travis Metz and LaBrae's Andrew Cree won their first-round bouts.
Trumbull County's upperclassmen winners were Gavin Clark (junior middleweight) and Jesse Clark (cruiserweight), both of Lakeview. Jackson-Milton's Cloten Nitzky won a heavyweight bout.