Boxing: Pair of local fighters strong in amateur debuts

They may have walked into Moe's Boxing and Fitness gym on Leeds Ave. in Arbutus intending to lose weight and get in better shape, but Brendon Twilley and Rich Rogers proved they can be pretty good in the ring in an officially sanctioned boxing match as well.

Rogers, 31, a Catonsville resident, won his first amateur fight Saturday evening at the Fights at the Fishhead Cantina.

Twilley, 23, an Arbutus resident, controlled his opponent for most of his super heavyweight fight, but Abingdon's Shaundre Gee was awarded the decision.

"I told Brendon he won the fight," said trainer Moe Rites. "They robbed him big time."

Twilley pounced out of his corner with a flurry and was the aggressor from the outset.

Gee was warned in the first round for backing off.

Twilley landed some solid combinations in the second round, but really went to work in the final round.

He landed five straight blows on one side of the ring and nearly knocked Gee through the ropes.

When the referee stopped the onslaught to keep Gee in the ring, Twilley landed another flurry of clean punches at the other side of the ring.

Despite not being awarded the decision, Twilley received accolades from friends and family who were attending the event, which was the second held at the Fishhead Cantina in Arbutus.

Rites, who held the inaugural event in Aug. 2011, was the organizer of the card, which included five sanctioned bouts and two sparring exhibitions.

He plans to have two more fight cards at the Fishhead Cantina this summer.

Rites was very confident in Twilley, a standout linebacker on the Arbutus Big Red semi-pro football team and a former Mount St. Joseph player.

"I told Brandon (before the third round) that 'you are stronger than him, don't worry about it.' " Rites said.

Twilley was unscathed after the match and enjoyed his workout.

"I countered what he was throwing, but he didn't throw much at all," he said. "I almost put him out of the ring."

When Twilley joined the gym three months ago, he weighed 250, but he has since lost 15 pounds and added more muscle.

"We just started taking a liking to each other and I started training him and he said 'I want to fight' so I said 'OK, you are ready to fight now.'" Rites said.

Twilley's review of his first performance: "I love it," he said. "The cardio workout is definitely worth it."

For Rogers, who won a three-round decision over Justin Richards, cardio was one of the last things on his mind at the end of 2011.

"I was having health problems, having really bad heart palpitations and my cholesterol was sky high." Rogers said. "I just turned my life around. I said 'I was going to do this'"

Using a brawling mentality and getting inside, he solved Richards, who was six inches taller and had a distinct reach advantage.

After two solid left jab and overhand right combinations, he stunned the boxer from the Lights Out gym in Columbia with an overhand right lead late in the first round.

As Richards tilted sideways, Rogers knocked him down with a left hook.

After a standing eight-count, Richards knocked down a surprised Rogers less than 10 seconds later.

"When he hit me in the first round my legs went numb," Rogers said. "I couldn't feel anything."

After the fight, a fan came up and made Rogers' day when he said, "I don't know who you are, man, but that was the greatest fight I've ever seen in my life."

Rogers, who said he was a gym rat when he boxed as a youngster, is just happy to have his life on the right path.

"In January, I was 260 pounds," said Rogers, who now weighs around 200.

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