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Bayside fighter pushes through to Golden Gloves finals

During the second round of his semi-final Golden Gloves boxing match at the Empire City Casino in Yonkers two weeks ago, Julio Arce of Fresh Meadows noticed Gilberto Sanchez was starting to show signs of fatigue. Standing against the ropes, the left-handed Arce connected with a cross that sent his opponent stumbling to the ground on the other side of the ring for a standing eight-count.

“We were trading punches back and forth,” said Arce, who teaches mixed-martial arts at the Tiger Schulmann’s center on Bell Boulevard in Bayside. “I was actually surprised he went flying across the ring.”

That wallop earned Arce the honor of Empire City Casino Punch of the Night, and the 5-0 decision advanced him to a finals round match at Madison Square Garden Friday.

The 21-year old MMA fighter has been taking on the city’s best in the 141-pound novice class of the Golden Gloves tournament since late January, winning handily at times.

“The winning is partly skill, partly strategy and partly luck. If that punch were a split second later, [Sanchez] could have blocked it,” said Bryan Gotthoffer, who began training Arce when he was 13. “We have this saying that fighters make their own luck.”

Arce has been making that luck through a comprehensive training regimen and conditioning himself for long bouts. Gotthoffer said many of the opponents Arce has faced in the competition have been strictly boxers, whereas Arce normally trains for multiple disciplines.

“Back when MMA was just getting popular, the guys who did take-downs and submissions always won. Now that it’s evolved, you have be good at striking, wrestling, submission, grappling .... The idea is to make him a better mixed-martial artist,” said Gotthoffer. “Boxing is just an avenue to get there.”

Gotthoffer said that as far as he knows, David Green, Arce’s next opponent, trains exclusively as a boxer. “He likes to move around a lot, and he’s a lefty like me,” said Arce. He talked about how important conditioning is and said he observed on film that Green “gasses out pretty quickly.”

Arce grew up in Flushing, where he attended PS 91 and then Benjamin Cardozo High School. He got into MMA training as an out-of-shape teenager and now passes along the lessons he has learned through his training to his students at Tiger Schulmann’s.

“I like to see my students get better. When I watch them progress through their training, I see a little bit of myself in them,” he said.

The young instructor said he has been taking the tournament one fight at a time.

“Every fight is a fight,” he said. “After every fight, you keep working on improving.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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