Photo Essay

Amateur Boxer Makes a Knockout of a Pro Debut

Claremont Fighter Makes Pro Debut

by Jeremy Jones

MANCHESTER/CLAREMONT - The professional boxing debut of Claremont resident Dan Powers at the annual "Fight To Educate" charity boxing event in Manchester has been highly touted in the local New England boxing community for several months. It has been blogged about, talked about, written about in online columns and speculated on for weeks. And, when the big day finally almost didn't happen.

To begin with, Powers and his team were informed early in the day that their scheduled opponent, Alberto Velez of Puerto Rico, missed his flight - reason unknown. Finding a fill-in fighter at the last minute is apparently not an easy proposition. Claremont Boxing Club Head Coach Joe Szelangowski points out: "Do you know how hard it is to find a fighter on such short notice? Licensed? Ready to fight?"

A replacement opponent was found, however. John Dippolito of Philadelphia (also making his professional debut), was flown in and arrived in Manchester less than two hours before the scheduled fight time. However, because of the rush and timing of his arrival, he did not have a contract with the promoter and he refused to take the ring without one. Fortunately, the promoter was able to work out the details with Dippolito and his team and had a contract drawn up on the spot.

As if those potential troubles weren't enough, while the fighters warmed up with their trainers in the locker rooms, event organizers were realizing they had a major problem: The event featured six bouts but, somehow, they were only insured for five. An emergency meeting between organizers and New Hampshire Boxing Commission staff was hastily convened in the hallway outside the locker rooms where debate ensued as to which fighter would be told he couldn't fight. Ultimately, the organizers solved their dilemma and the event was able to continue.

Dan Powers is a quiet, unassuming fighter. Focused and intent before the bout, he has all the bearings of a seasoned veteran - and well he should. With five Vermont Golden Glove titles under his belt and 36 fights as an amateur, Powers has already enjoyed a highly successful career in the ring. As he warmed up in the locker room, it was evident that he took his pro debut seriously. Shadow boxing with head coach Joe Szelangowski, Powers ducked, guarded, danced and threw jabs, hooks and crosses with a methodical and obvious precision that elicited only minor corrections from Szelangowski in the process.

As Powers took the ring, he was joined by trainer Ed Farris, Szelangowski and renowned trainer Mel Peabody of the Lawrence Boxing Club. Within moments of the bell, Powers had fully engaged his opponent and the crowd quickly took notice. After delivering a series of brutal combinations to the body and head of Dippolito and receiving the same treatment in return, Powers scored a right hook that left his opponent dazed and staggering against the corner supports. Dippolito bravely soldiered on, though, finishing the first round on his feet and turning to his corner for advice at the bell. Seconds into Round 2, it was clear that Powers was in control and the visibly wearied Dippolito failed to defend against a number of blows. Finally, at 1:58 in the 2nd round, it was all over - a stunned Dippolito watched the officials award Powers with a TKO. Reflecting on the fight a few moments later, Powers explains: "I hit him with a body shot and saw that it really slowed him down. I thought to myself, 'Gotta' go for the head!' I threw, I think, a left hook and then an uppercut and he went down."

Powers, a professional tree-cutter in regular life (To The Top Tree Care of Vermont) was supported at the event by a small army of family and friends. Their reactions to his win ran the spectrum from tears of joy to high-fives around each of the three tables they occupied on the arena floor. Friend Jim Tucker summed it up neatly: "It was a hell of a fight!" Powers' wife, Chauntelle, agreed. "The 1st round was a chess match!" she said. "It was the first fight of the night where the crowd was cheering right in the 1st round." At one point, according to Chauntelle, even the ring announcer - experienced and used to seeing it all in the ring - was caught intently watching the fight and mouthing the word, "Wow."

"It was awesome," says Powers. "I was really nervous and the guy definitely came to fight." That sentiment was shared by trainer Mel Peabody who helped work Powers' corner for the match. "Oh, he came to fight, no doubt." said Peabody. "Plus, he had a good ten pounds on Danny!"

Powers' win wasn't the only cause for celebration for the Claremont Boxing Club staff. Junior Middleweight Demetrius Andrade, recently signed by the Boxing Club to a four-year contract, left his opponent taking a nap on the mat part-way into the 2nd round. Andrade, a former Olympian, national Golden Glove winner and Pan Am medalist, now carries a professional record of 11-0 with 8 KOs.

The Claremont Boxing Club is located at 31 Pleasant Street in Claremont. You can find them on Facebook for more information or, as Joe Szelangowski prefers it, just stop in and say hello.

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