Updated: February 28, 2013 at 12:00 am
The crowd began to cheer “USA” in the middle of the third round of the 185-pound class at the Air Force Wing Open.
Cadets Phillip Mays and Gytenis Borusas threw wild punches, sending each other into the ropes. Mays, who had fought patiently in the previous two rounds, let loose, and took the title.
“(I was thinking) I gotta win,” Mays said about the chants. “It’s a pride thing, not just for myself but for the country and for my friends at home.”
Borusas, who kick boxed in Lithuania, exhibited strong footwork in each round, but seemed to lose control of his upper body, landing only a few hard punches. He had the most success in the first round, attempting to dictate the round with his size. Mays, on the other hand, waited patiently for Borusas to miss.
The momentum swung Mays’ way in the second, when the freshman landed a cheek-smashing hit to Borusas. That brought them into the highly contested third round.
“It was just who wanted it more,” Mays said. “Both of us were tired, but the strongest finish, but the strong survive.”
“He’s a good fighter. He has my respect,” Borusas said. “He has will. He never stops. He’s always giving his best.”
Though Mays, a former Air Force basketball player, fights and speaks like he knows the ring, he is actually a novice.
“He started boxing Jan. 7,” coach Eddie Weichers said, laughing. “So, he’s been boxing seven weeks.”
They found Mays obliterating fellow cadets in intramural boxing class. Mays dominated to such a degree that the teacher of the class asked Coach Weichers to take a look at him and give him a passing grade. All Mays had to do was show up to two intercollegiate workouts and show his stuff. Mays continued knocking guys around at the higher level of competition, and got that passing grade.
A few days later, Mays showed up at Weichers’ door. He wanted to box. Mays had given up playing Division I basketball, because the intense travel and practice schedule interfered with his academics. More than anything, Mays wants to be a pilot.
“I’ve been wanting to be a pilot since I was like in seventh grade. Ever since then, it’s just been an aspiration to be a pilot.”
Weichers allows Mays to take academic days that he needs, while making sure that he gets into the ring as often as possible.
“He’s just a very polite respectful young man, who wants to be a pilot, who came here to fly,” Weichers said.
Now, the aspiring pilot has taken off in the ring.
Mays will join the team with the other Wing Open champions, Drew Pineda, a two-time National Collegiate Boxing Association champion, Michael Magtalas, Roy Taylor, Jacob Berggren, Will Petersen, Glenn Miltenberg, James Monk, Dennis Vorobyov, Logan Brandt, Cameron Vickroy and Olawale Lawal, 2012 national champ.
The team will travel to regionals in Reno, Nev., on March 21-23.
119-lbs.: Michael Magtalas (CS-34) dec. Matt Arcano (CS-40)
125-lbs.: Roy Taylor (CS-14) dec. Stephen Bittner (CS-14)
132-lbs.: Jacob Berggren (CS-30) dec. Andrew Munoz (CS-40)
139-lbs.: Will Petersen (CS-02) dec. Ethan Salgado (CS-14)
147-lbs.: Glenn Miltenberg (CS-27) dec. Sean Cork (CS-22)
156-lbs.: James Monk (CS-10) dec. Mike Leland (CS-21)
165-lbs.: Denis Vorobyov (CS-03) dec. Keith Sasine (CS-24)
175-lbs.: Logan Brandt (CS-18) dec. Justin Smith (CS-31)
185-lbs.: Phil Mays (CS-08) dec. Gytenis Borusas (CS-23)
195-lbs.: Cameron Vickroy (CS-25) dec. Aaron Oats (CS-20)
Note: Miltenberg captured his second straight Wing Open Outstanding Boxer Award – becoming the first boxer in program history to claim that award more than once in a career.