Garden Finalist Unbowed

Golden Gloves pugilist in the open division now
Luis Mancilla
Luis Mancilla, at left, had to deal with a southpaw, Prince Slaughter, in the Golden Gloves’ 132-pound novice final. Jessica Camargo

    Luis Mancilla, the 19-year-old Springs resident who made it all the way to the 132-pound Golden Gloves novice final at Madison Square Garden earlier this month, said during a conversation this week that, despite the loss (“by two punches”), he is convinced he’s “a better fighter than I ever was,” and thus will fight on.
    While the loss in the final, to 17-year-old Prince Slaughter of Brentwood, had been “very disappointing,” those who had seen him fight for the championship had been uniformly encouraging. And now that he’s had some time to reflect, he’s as dedicated as ever and wearing the runner-up silver gloves neck chain with pride.
    “I was well prepared” to fight a southpaw, Mancilla said. “He got in one good shot, a straight left, which I moved in to, in the first round. I was a little dazed — he didn’t know it. I shook it off and kept him from getting into a comfortable rhythm and kept coming forward. It’s the number of punches you land to the head that count — body punches don’t count, though I agree they definitely have an effect.”
    The big mistake, though, Mancilla said, lay in the fact that his corner wasn’t aware that, contrary to what he thought, “the finals are three rounds, not four. I wanted to leave it all to the last round — my coach had told me I was going to fight four — but then, after three, he says, ‘That’s it.’ I was astonished. I knew I hadn’t done enough to come out with a decision. We had seen some of the other bouts that night [April 8], but we were so focused that we hadn’t paid attention to them.”
    During the fight, “my coach was telling me he wanted to see more hooks, and that I should keep moving to my left and stay busy. At the end, he told me that I had put up a tremendous fight, and that he thought it could have gone either way. He apologized because he didn’t know that it was three rounds. . . . Fighters from my gym thought the fight should have gone my way. I could have kept busier, but they all said I’d fought a tremendous fight.”
    Slaughter, he said, when asked, “didn’t impress me or anybody else. He’s undefeated and he’s won the Junior Olympics, but I gave him one of his toughest fights, I know that.”
    Having learned a few things, then, and having realized, once his initial gloom wore off, the extent of his accomplishment — apparently no one from here has ever made it successfully through four preliminary bouts to a Golden Gloves final — Mancilla said he’s ready to start training for a return appearance in the Garden next year, though, because he has 10 bouts under his belt now, he will be fighting henceforth in the open division.
    “I’m definitely staying in the gym [the Long Island Boxing Gym in Deer Park]. I’ll be there two or three times a week, and the rest of the time at the Y [the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter]. And I’ll keep going to school [Suffolk Community College in Riverhead, from which he hopes to transfer to John Jay] and working on weekends at Shoe-Inn.”
    “I didn’t want to see these silver gloves,” he said, looking down at the chain. “I thought they were for losers. Though I do wear them with pride now. They remind me of the hard work I’ve put in. They’ve gotten me ready for the golden ones.”