When he leads the University of Nevada Wolf Pack boxing team into tonight's Nevada Boxing Invitational at the Eldorado Hotel-Casino in Reno, fans are going to see a little bit more of Lawrence Tam.
Tam, who won two National Collegiate Boxing Association national titles at 112 pounds in 2000 and 2001, will enter tonight's bout at 119 pounds. Even with the added weight, the senior will be spotting his opponent a weight division, and will face a 126-pounder.
"I have to get a fight wherever I can," said the 23-year-old Tam. "I've only had one fight this year. It's not like I'm going to go out there and kill the guy. I guess that's what the other coaches are thinking, though."
Tam, the only senior on a young Wolf Pack squad, said he's been frustrated by his inability to get fights and sparring.
"I'm afraid I'm disintegrating," said Tam, who had his last fight (a win) in New York on November 25. "I feel I'm staying at that same level."
Aside from Tam's victory in New York, only four Wolf Pack boxers have seen action this season, going 0-4 in Las Vegas. Wolf Pack boxing coordinator Mike Martino said there will be 12 bouts in tonight's show, featuring boxers from
Nevada, perennial power Air Force, California and UNLV. Martino expects anywhere from five to eight Nevada boxers to compete.
"The kids have been working hard," Martino said. "They just got back from break. I trust that they've been working hard. We have a lot of young men who have picked up the sport quickly. They have a chance to demonstrate their skill and what they've learned in the gym. It will be nice to see them compete."
Some of the Nevada boxers scheduled to compete are sophomore Daigo Moki, of Chiba Japan, who went 1-3 in his first season, and will compete at 119 pounds; sophomore Rob Dalbol, a 2001 Fernley graduate, who will compete at 147 pounds; freshman Ryan Healy, of Salem, Ore., who will compete at 178
pounds; and junior Anthony Lopez, who will box at 156 pounds.
Lopez, who went 3-1 in his first season, is having his first bout in nearly a year-and-a half.
"I had to get academically eligible again, but I stayed in the gym," said Lopez, a business management major. "I feel pretty good right now. I can go three rounds easy. I should be all right. I'm ready to rock. I'm a little nervous, but that all goes away once you get in there. I'm going to go out and do the best I can."
Dalbol, a mechanical engineering major who carries a 3.76 grade point average, will be looking to pick up his first collegiate win, having dropped his first match in Las Vegas.
"I'm ready. We've been sparring every day except Sunday," Dalbol said. "We have the home crowd here. Hopefully it will move people my way."
Healy said he is expecting a tough fight, and has been drawing on the leadership skills of Tam.
"It helps to watch Tam box," Healy said. "He sets a constant pace. He's a real good example of a fighter you want to be like."
Tam, who has taken on a leadership role, remembers what it was like when he started his collegiate career.
"A lot of them are nervous," said Tam of the younger boxers. "I was nervous when I started, too. (Nevada's former two-time NCBA 178-pound national champion) Ryan Simpson talked to me. He let me know what to expect. He reinforced whatever confidence was there. That's what I'll try and do with them."
Doors open at 6 p.m. in the Eldorado's Convention Center, with action set to begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be picked up at the door or by calling ahead at 786-5700.