LEHI — Andrew Cruz found himself in the Fullmer Brothers Boxing Gym because of his big brother.
But two years after his brother stopped boxing, the 16-year-old Copper Hills junior is still fighting.
"It took some getting used to," said Cruz after defeating Matthew Ochoa in the 140-pound division at XSI Saturday Night Fights in Lehi. "I got beat up a lot at first."
Cruz liked it enough to stick with it, and he even gave up soccer to focus on boxing.
"I'm not good at soccer," he said laughing. "I'm good at this."
He spends four nights a week at the Fullmer Brothers Gym in South Jordan, and now he loves every minute — even those when he's taking a punch.
"I have the motivation, the focus," he said. "I get all my anger out in the ring."
Cruz was one of 20 amateur fighters competing Saturday night from age 8 to 32. Their reasons for being in the ring may differ but their love of the sport does not.
"I love fighting," said Daniel Granados, 19, who graduated from Hunter High last year. "The more I fight the better."
Granados had one of the night's most exciting wins, although it didn't look like it would be much of a bout when his opponent, Kaden Eyre, was knocked down within the first minute of the bout.
It didn't look like he'd get up, but he did. Eyre battled back, giving Granados a fierce fight.
"I was pretty surprised he got up," said Granados. "Ninety percent of my fights are knockouts."
He said he took up boxing a year ago after loving it as a child.
"I thought, you never know, you could make a career out of it," he said. "I've always had that power and motivation. When you're in the ring, you can forget about everything else going on in your life."
The results of the other fights were: Alejandro Avila def. John Oritz; Ernesto Florez def. Greg Cordova; Andreas Mercado def. Matt Sero; Maria Hernandez def. Andrea Morales; Rick Smith def. Hugo Villapando; Shon Cross def. Hunter Sebresos; Lalo Riquelme def. Ben Cristento; Allen Layva def. Shanunatu Hogue.
Next Saturday at South Towne Expo in Sandy, Chris "Kid Kayo" Fernandez will defend his WBU World Title. He will face Allen Litzau in Utah's first title fight since Danny "Little Red" Lopez defended his featherweight title in the '70s. The doors open at 7 p.m. and the fights begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Smith'sTix. Tuesday fans can come watch Fernandez spar and get an autograph at a Meet the Fighter Night at Flash Academy, 4030 S. 2700 East in Holladay.
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