‘One day there’s going to be a ring in the middle of Kyle Field’

Light Middleweight boxers Francis Cristal and Frank Chiu throw crosses during Farmers Fight Night on Thursday, April 4th, 2024, at Reed Arena.
Light Middleweight boxers Francis Cristal and Frank Chiu throw crosses during Farmers Fight Night on Thursday, April 4th, 2024, at Reed Arena.
Photo by Ani Tummalapalli

“Throw the 1, follow with the 2!”

“Keep your hands up!”

“Tie him up!”

It was the sixth fight of the night. The crowd was either on its feet or the edge of its seats as shouts from the coaches in each corner permeated the air. In the red corner, finance junior AJ Baird. In the blue corner, electrical engineering senior Emiliano Sanchez.

Round 1 proved aggressive from the jump with both Baird and Sanchez trading blows. As they moved into Round 2, the crowd remained invested, screaming for both corners.

Sanchez tried to play levels early, swinging shots to both Baird’s upper and lower body, but Baird responded by backing him against the ropes. Heads in the crowd bobbed and weaved, trying to get a glimpse as the two fighters moved from corner to corner, trading blows.

With the time on the clock running out, Sanchez grabbed the advantage with both hands when he slammed a back-foot blow to Baird’s jaw, forcing a mandatory standing eight count from the referee that turned into a medic timeout.

With one round to go and Baird already showing signs of fatigue, Sanchez switched tactics: instead of going blow-for-blow in hope of accumulating more significant strikes, Sanchez played the long game. The first half of Round 3 was spent with both fighters in a constant tie, giving the audience an easy view of the blood covering both of their faces and shorts. The room grew quiet for the first time in the entire fight as everyone waited with anticipation for the climax.

And then it came. Like a lion released from a cage, Sanchez unleashed on Baird in the final seconds of the bout. When the final bell rang, Sanchez had backed Baird into a corner with his blows. However, despite Sanchez’s strong finish, Baird held the momentum throughout the first round, so no victory was guaranteed.

Baird and Sanchez were slumped with exhaustion as they awaited the results, fists clenched in the announcer’s grip. The corner coaches watched on with bated breath until finally it was announced that Sanchez won by split decision, and the crowd erupted.

Farmers Fight Night was held in Reed Arena on Thursday, April 4 as a project a year in the making. With all proceeds going towards cancer research through United Way Brazos Valley, Farmers Fight Night hosted nine amateur boxing matches featuring Texas A&M students. Due to the event’s facilitation by USA Boxing, all fighters were subsequently ranked according to their results among other registered boxers.

“This is insane for your first fight,” history junior Edward Clark said before his fight. “This is a professional level thing. So, I didn’t really put that into perspective, but holy moly, this is a pretty big deal. All these lights, all these seats — it doesn’t matter if they’re filled. I guess that’s the one thing going through my head: stepping into a ring, it’s a professional level thing.”

The boxers competed in two teams with assigned coaches outside of the individual competition: the red corner and the blue corner. Red dominated the night, winning six of the nine fights, with blue’s first win not coming until the fourth fight between forensics junior Christian Chavira, the victor, and agricultural leadership and development senior Angelo Castro.

“Everyone here is going to tell you that it’s been a long and arduous road,” blue corner coach Sage Stamper said, who doubles as a political science senior at A&M. “That it’s a tale of perseverance and getting back up in unlikely situations. Every other sport you can try at your meets and you can fail and you can feel bad, cry some tears, but nothing will make your blood boil more than what happens in this little 20-by-20 ring.”

The red corner spent the night focusing on scoring points with significant strikes rather than reaching for the often unattainable knockout. Bout champions international studies senior Francis Cristal, construction science sophomore Will Loftin, Clark and aerospace engineering senior Jake Young found success in this method, winning their fights with late barrages between the guards of their opponents.

Yet community health senior Kobe Mora found his own path to victory. Forcing a standing eight count in the first round with a hook to the head, Mora sent a message of overwhelming strength early, but his opponent, political science sophomore Chandler Banks, fought back to send Mora to the mat.

Banks’ upper hand didn’t last long as another hook from Mora sought revenge, landing Banks on his back in the middle of the ring in Round 2. Exhaustion weighed Banks’ arms, lowering his guard and forcing him to resort to haymakers. It was those haymakers, which left him open to hook after hook from Mora, that ultimately gave the senior the win by decision.

In two of the few unanimous decision wins of the night, multidisciplinary engineering tech junior Charles Villegas in red and engineering sophomore Jake Zawaideh in blue dominated their opponents, management junior Tom Sengphet and electrical engineering junior Kim Peteros, respectively.

In the matchup between Villegas and Sengphet, it appeared Sengphet had the advantage by the end of Round 1. However, Villegas took the wheel in Rounds 2 and 3, forcing Sengphet into tight immobile positions and landing decisive hooks and uppercuts.

With Zawaideh and Peteros, Zawaideh had trouble landing his shots from the back foot. Until he didn’t. Peteros tried to maintain a tight guard but Zawaideh played a numbers game, forcing cross after cross until one inevitably slipped through Peteros’ guard.

Farmers Fight Night boasted an attendance of around 1,400 people, but the members don’t want to stop here; their hopes and dreams go beyond a one-time event.

“I had a pipe dream of having a ring somewhere important one day,” Stamper said. “It has been a long push by many students at A&M to have a combat sports event, to have a boxing event. This is the culmination of those dreams, this is the start of it all, and, mark my words, one day there’s going to be a ring in the middle of Kyle Field.”

Video by Michael Milliorn
View Comments (1)
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (1)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • T

    TCApr 18, 2024 at 10:04 am

    Boxing causes brain damage. Why would university students or administration support this?