The second I walked into the Austin Sports Center on Friday night I felt the electricity in the air. As I made my way ringside I took a second to really take in the moment and what was happening around me. The lights were dimmed in the arena, the only part of the building that was lit up was the ring. It look like a set straight out of a movie. It felt like a stage for the next young world champion to display his talents.
Angel Resendiz and myself first met in 2004 as 14-year-old freshman at John H. Reagan high school in Austin, TX. I remember the first time I saw him walk into Mrs. Wilson’s class he was wearing a unique jacket that I had to ask him about. As he got closer I saw that it had his name on the back, it had boxing gloves on it as well. Once we started to chop it up I learned that Angel was an amateur boxer who had won a few national tournaments. But you want to know what is even cooler? Angel trained with a family friend of mine, who we’ll call my uncle because of how long I’ve known him, Jesus Chavez. Jesus was a former WBC super featherweight and IBF lightweight champion of the world, his most famous fight was against Floyd Mayweather. The second I learned that Angel was affiliated with Jesus, an eternal bond was formed.
Angel and I grew up in a pretty bad part of Austin. Drugs and violence littered the streets we grew up on. To be honest, it’s a blessing that Angel is pursuing his dreams as a fighter and I’m here writing this piece today. There aren’t many success stories coming from where we come from, the ending never seems to go our way. We used to live down the street from each other, sometimes Angel would see me waiting for the bus on his way to school and pick me up. I remember one time we skipped school and drove an hour to San Antonio to go to Six Flags amusement park on a day where some of our classmates where there for a field trip. The teacher chaperone caught us and man was she pissed (Andrea Claire Payne sorry for being such a headache when we were young, I hope we’re making you proud now). She told us she called the school and we were going to be in big trouble when we got back. But she said since we were there already we could stay as long as we stayed with the school group, Angel and I looked at each other and said fuck it.
All those memories rushed back into my head when I heard the ring announcer say, “MAKING HIS WAY TO THE RING, FROM AUSTIN, TX, ANGEL RESENDIZ!!!” My journalistic professionalism went out the door at that moment as I rose to my feet and joined the other hundreds of people to yell my heart out. Angel’s fans came out in droves and made their presence felt from that moment on.
Sitting besides me were Angel’s girlfriends parents, I went to elementary school with his girlfriend, small world isn’t it? I won’t use their names because I didn’t ask for permission but they were wonderful people. We talked once they arrived to their seats because I’ll talk to just about anybody, but when the fight started that all changed. Our eyes were locked on the fight and only in between rounds did they say anything. It was mostly how we felt the round went and how the fight was going.
As the announcer made the final introductions I sized Angel’s opponent Marquis Hawthorne (5-6) up from where I sat. Hawthorne was the taller fighter, Angel (2-1) was physically a more dominant presence. It looked like two gladiators ready for war starring each other down trying to get in each others head.
The last words I remember saying to his girlfriend’s parents before that opening bell rung were, “Angel looks good. It’s showtime.”
Round 1 starts and both fighters come out blazing. They sprint to the middle of the ring and greet each other with haymakers knocking both fighters off-balance. As the round progressed Hawthorne used the early momentum to apply pressure and keep Angel on his heels. Hawthorne was the busier fighter of the two, yet, Angel landed the cleaner punches. At the end of the round, this was a toss-up. I wouldn’t argue with you if you gave Hawthorne that round. That being said, it all depends on whose judging the fight and how they value being busy versus landing flush shots. We’ll get back to the judges in a bit…
Round 2 is where Angel started to find his groove. He started to lead with the jab and putting his hands together. Like most great Mexican fighters, Angel has a devastating left hook to the body and he started to take some air out of the tires for Hawthorne when he started landing the hook consistently. There were times where Hawthorne tried to turn this into an all out slug fest, but Angel showed some high boxing IQ out there, you can credit that to his trainer Alfred Ortiz for having him mentally ready for this fight.
Round 3 was more of the same precision work from Angel. When Angel lead with the jab it was working for him, he could follow that up with any combination and it was landing. The body shots were there. The defense looked good, he was moving his head around and never staying in the same spot for too long. To Hawthorne’s credit, he must have sensed that Angel was bringing the fight to him because he turned it on himself. The only problem was that Hawthorne wasn’t landing anything flush, a lot of the times he was swinging and hitting thin air.
Round 4 is when the bombs started to fly. Hawthorne came out aggressive with a sense of urgency, you want to know why? Deep down I think he knew he was losing this fight and had to knock Angel out to win. Hawthorne was dialing back and throwing haymakers trying to end it early. Most of those punches landed on Angel’s arms and elbows, though. Both fighters spent the last minute swinging with everything they had. Never will I doubt that Marquis Hawthorne and Angel Resendiz left it all in the ring. They laid it out on the line like true fighters.
When the final bell rang the WHOLE arena again rose to their feet to cheer on the hometown kid. I looked over to his girlfriend’s parents and smiled. I said, “Angel won that fight. 3-1. This is his.”
“The winner by spilt-decision… MARQUIS HAWTHORNE!” yelled the announcer and the mood in the arena shifted. It went from festive and celebratory to people yelling, “BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” I looked straight at Angel and saw the genuine look of confusion, anger, and heart-break in his face. I’ll never know what Angel felt at that moment, but his body language as he walked out of the ring into the backstage area told it all. A warrior who left it all in the ring and put on a show for his city was robbed of a W. He was robbed of his undefeated record.
I spoke to Angel this morning and he has a message to everyone who came out and supported or showed loved before the fight, “I love all my fans and we’re coming back stronger than ever.” I have no doubt in my mind that Angel will bounce back stronger than ever. If you don’t know the name Angel Resendiz now, you’re going to learn it very soon.