RENO - There's a reason why old school boxing coaches feel that left-handed fighters should be drowned at birth and for the better part of two rounds Friday, Nevada 165-pounder Ryan Healy found out why.
But Healy, a defending National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) regional and national champion, came out strong in round three, defeated UNLV southpaw Greg Murrell and was one of three Nevada boxers to advance to today's final round of the NCBA Western Regional Championships at the Eldorado Convention Center.
Three other Nevada boxers -119-pound Daigo Moki, 125-pound Jose Casas and heavyweight John Lorman - had byes Friday and will also compete in the finals.
The 21-year-old Healy, a junior from Salem, Ore., forced the fight for the first two rounds, but found Murrell hard to catch.
"I had trouble finding my range until the third round," said Healy, who improved to 5-1 on the year. "He was awkward. I didn't know he was left-handed. He was the first southpaw I've fought. He had long arms, too. He caught me a lot coming in. He let me come in and throw and then he'd counter."
Murrell caught Healy with some stinging right hooks as he managed to avoid any serious trouble early. But before the third and final round, Nevada coach Greg Rice gave Healy some helpful advice.
"He (Rice) told me to throw the left hook three, four or five times," said Healy, who rocked Murrell several times in the last round. "He said keep throwing it and it will land."
And it did. So did numerous right-hand leads as Healy dominated the action to score the victory. Healy said Rice was a big help between rounds.
"I really like having Greg in my corner," Healy said. "He keeps me calm. He doesn't do a lot of talking, which I like. I get confused when someone's telling me 50 different things to do. (With Rice, the corner) is a tranquil little spot."
Nevada's Thomas Gennaro nearly gave San Jose State's Patrick Meyers a different kind of tranquility, dropping Meyers in the third round with a pair of strong left-rights in a 147-pound contest. After a groggy Meyers got up, Gennaro pounced on him with a flurry of punches, prompting the referee to stop the contest at 1 minute, 47 seconds of the final round.
"I was just trying to throw punches - clean straight punches," said the 20-year-old Gennaro, a sophomore in his first year of boxing. "I chased him right into the corner. I was always walking forward."
Gennaro improved to 3-3 on the year and today will face defending national champion Todd Gaylord, of Cal. Gaylord took a close decision from Gennaro on March 4 at the Eldorado.
"(Gaylord's) a great fighter," said Gennaro, who hails from Las Vegas. "He beat me. He kept sticking and moving. And he's stronger and bigger. I left everything in the ring tonight. I'm going to do the same tomorrow (today)."
Nevada's David Schacter nearly needed a butcher's bib after his bloody victory over the Air Force Academy's Brian Navin in a 132-pound contest.
The 18-year-old Schacter, a freshman from Las Vegas, bloodied Navin's nose with a 5-punch flurry off the ropes in the opening round and scored a standing-eight count with a right hook in the second.
By the end of the fight Navin's blood covered his face and tank top, as well as Schacter's gloves, but he never quit coming after Schacter. Navin didn't help his own cause when he whacked Schacter when he tried to touch gloves at the beginning of the fight.
"I was trying to take the first round easy, but when he hit me when I tried to touch gloves, I knew I was in for a fight," Schacter said. "He was tough. I give him all credit. He had a lot of heart."
In a non-region fight, Nevada's Matt Johnson made it a perfect 4-0 on the night for the Pack. Johnson, a 2003 Whittell High School graduate, let both hands go in the third round and notched his first collegiate win in four tries, beating UNLV's Jason Crocco in a 175-pound bout.
Doors open at noon today, with the first fight scheduled for 1 p.m.
What: NCBA Western Regional Championships.
Where: Eldorado Convention Center.
When: Today. Doors open at noon, first bout 1 p.m.
Ticket info: $15. Available at Eldorado Showroom box office or by calling (775) 786-5700.