By Walt Johnson, Fort Carson MountaineerJuly 22, 2010
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Fort Carson's Jeffrey Spencer completed a USA Boxing National Championships tournament by defeating Robert Brant and winning the 178 pound U.S. national title at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Colorado Springs.
The victory was the first national title for Spencer and the first 178-pound championship for the Army boxing team since Christopher Downs won the championship in 2007.
Joining Spencer in earning a medal at the event were John Franklin and Caroline Barry, who each earned a bronze medal.
Spencer was clearly the most outstanding boxer for the Army team at this event as he stood toe to toe with some of the best fighters in the nation. Each time Spencer stepped into the ring he was able to use his superior conditioning and strength to outlast his opponent. The soft-spoken Spencer let his fist do all the talking for him during the tournament as he rolled to the championship match, but it was not an easy journey by any means.
The 178-pound-weight class historically is one of the top divisions in amateur boxing.
This year was no different as many outstanding fighters put on the gloves. The difference between winning and losing in this division was going to be who fought the smartest fights, had the most stamina and could withstand the power and boxing skills of the opponent. In the first three fights that was Spencer.
Then Spencer found himself up against Caleb Plant for a shot at the national title. In a close and exciting fight, Spencer topped Plant.
After the fight Spencer explained what he needed to do to win the contest.
"In the first round I wanted to go out there and establish the fact I was the bigger and stronger guy and working my jab. As the first round went on he got a little craftier and started slipping my jab and making it harder for me to make contact. In the second round I figured him out a little more and tried to get physical with him. In the third round he was getting a little tired but he was trying to be the aggressor. I then figured I would try to get off fast combinations as he tried to pressure me. Coach has always told us to not cruise through a round and keep fighting and that is what I did," Spencer said.
Going into the championship match Saturday Spencer said he felt great to be able to represent his God, his Army, his teammates and his Family. But even that wasn't going to be enough to help him against an outstanding boxer like Brant, who also had dreams of winning a national championship.
After the first round Brant had a one-point lead but then the tide of the fight began turning in Spencer's favor. Brant was ready for Spencer's offensive moves in the first round so Spencer and Basheer Abdullah, World Class Athlete Program boxing coach, decided to try a new strategy in the second round.
"Coach told me to let the hook go, give him different looks in the second round. He also said I needed to lead with my right hand more and that turned the tide for me," Spencer said.
He would go on to dominate the second and third rounds and capture the national championship.
After the fight, a pleased Spencer was happy for himself but still had his teammates on his mind: "It means a lot to me to represent the country, the Army, the World Class Athlete Program and my teammates as a national champion. The only thing that could have made this better is if more of my teammates could have also won national titles."