Tough-loving Johnson City Athletic Club coach Scott Vance doesn’t let his boxers get too big for their britches — and they keep accumulating belts.
JCAC boxers Jose Burgos and Cody Pridemore won their latest national titles at the Police Action League championships in Toledo, Ohio on Oct. 8.
Burgos, a physical 13-year-old southpaw, has also won two national Silver Gloves titles, a National Title belt and a World Ringside title.
Pridemore, 15, has won a National Title championship too, and another JCAC boxer, 19-year-old Robert Hall, won a World Ringside title. Hall, a heavyweight, reached the semifinals in Toledo.
The 138-pound Pridemore has been boxing with Vance nearly 10 years. His record is approximately 65-20.
Burgos has been boxing four years. Hall, who didn’t start boxing until he was 16, has won 23 of his first 33 bouts.
The boxers credit Vance’s guidance, although his gruff candor can be an acquired taste.
“These guys know I love them,” said Vance, whose daughter Emily Nicole was born on Saturday morning. “Sometimes I don’t think these guys understand why I’m so tough on them. I don’t want them walking around with their heads between their tails.”
Burgos’ head was held high after his performance against Toledo’s Dean Carter in the national PAL 145-pound title bout. Carter won the national Silver Gloves title in Kansas City in March while Burgos was winning the 132-pound title.
Vance says Burgos wore the extra weight well against a quality opponent. Burgos led 4-3 after one round and 11-5 after two rounds en route to a 16-6 victory that improved his career record to 33-3.
“This kid was good — a national Silver Gloves champ,” Vance said. “And the kid was on him. He was more like ‘Let’s get it on,’ but Jose didn’t go for it; he boxed him. Jose was catching him with right hooks and uppercuts. ”
Pridemore defeated two-time defending national PAL champion Travis Jerig, of Zanesville, Ohio. Pridemore led 7-4 after one round, but the score had tightened to 11-9 heading into the third round. But he got his second wind and pulled away for a 20-13 triumph.
“Cody clearly dominated the third round,” Vance said.
Pridemore lost what Vance called “a controversial decision” to Jerig two years ago in Richmond, Ky.
“I thought I won it,” Pridemore said. “I went at him different this time. I put more pressure on him. Last time I fought him I kind of sat back and waited too long. This time I put it on him.
“I got tired a little bit, but I was in a whole lot better shape than I was the first time. I was well prepared for the fight and I went in thinking I was going to win it.”
Pridemore’s progress has somewhat resembled the timeline of former JCAC national champion Charlie Watson’s maturation.
“Charlie started getting really good at 15 years old,” Vance said. “It clicked then for Charlie. That’s the way it seems with Cody — his mentality. He’s listening more and his attitude is changing for the best. He’s doing great.”
Pridemore has qualified for the Junior Olympic nationals.
“Cody’s starting to learn how to box and use his jab a lot more,” Vance said. “He’s not over-exerting himself with his punches so much. And he’s sparring bigger kids. Him and Jose spar a lot — some great sparring. ... It’s not easy to get Jose fights.”
Hall still hadn’t taken up boxing when he was 15, but the self-motivated Science Hill graduate is making up for lost time. He defeated Antioch’s Darren Jackson in the national PAL quarterfinals. Javonta Charles (Memphis) eliminated Hall, 16-12, in the semifinals. Hall won a decision against Charles in Johnson City in August.
“This fight wasn’t harder,” Hall said. “He used his reach more this time than he did in the previous fight. The first round he was up 4-3 and it was tied 7-7 after the second round.
“During the last round I came in with a different mentality. Instead of boxing, I just tried to come in and fight more and try to get more points. So I had my hands down a little more than I should have, and he scored a couple of extra points.”
Vance is pleased with Hall’s steady progress in national tournaments.
“He got to the quarterfinals of the USA Championships,” Vance said. “He was one fight away from going to the Olympic Trials this year. But he won two fights, and he’s been consistent at these national tournaments. He’ll win two fights, or maybe three. He’s gonna win a national tournament here real soon.
“Right now, Robert will probably be rated No. 5 in the United States when the rankings come out, because he got to the quarterfinals.”
Vance hopes to have Hall, Burgos and Pridemore — and numerous other JCAC boxers — on the card at the Bobby Hughes Invitational at Legion Street Rec on Nov. 18-19.