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Tim O

Tim O'Sullivan: Boxers Boyle, Rhude far from satisfied with their Golden day

  • Chris Boyle practices at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Boyle and Gerard Rhude both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Chris Boyle practices at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Boyle and Gerard Rhude both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

  • Gerard Rhude gets ready to spar during practice at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Rhude and Chris Boyle both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Gerard Rhude gets ready to spar during practice at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Rhude and Chris Boyle both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

  • Chris Boyle (irght) and Gerard Rhude (left) spar during practice at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Boyle and Rhude both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Chris Boyle (irght) and Gerard Rhude (left) spar during practice at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Boyle and Rhude both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

  • Chris Boyle (left) and Gerard Rhude (right) spar during practice at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Boyle and Rhude both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Chris Boyle (left) and Gerard Rhude (right) spar during practice at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Boyle and Rhude both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

  • Chris Boyle practices at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Boyle and Gerard Rhude both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
  • Gerard Rhude gets ready to spar during practice at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Rhude and Chris Boyle both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
  • Chris Boyle (irght) and Gerard Rhude (left) spar during practice at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Boyle and Rhude both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
  • Chris Boyle (left) and Gerard Rhude (right) spar during practice at Averill's in downtown Concord; Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Boyle and Rhude both won Northern New England Golden Gloves this past weekend.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

On Main Street in Concord, tucked beneath a dance studio and next to a dress shop, behind a pair of glass doors, there’s a boxing ring. And inside that ring on Tuesday night, a pair of Golden Gloves champions sparred.

The other fighters training at Averill’s Martial Arts Academy stopped hitting bags to watch the action. The only sounds were quick feet on the mat and quick hands landing punches. There were a few good shots and some blood. It was over in less than three minutes.

Toiling in obscurity is common for amateur boxers like Hopkinton’s Christopher Boyle and Hill’s Gerard Rhude. But those two got a taste of success and recognition last month when they won novice class titles at the Northern New England Golden Gloves in front of a full house at the Burlington (Vt.) Memorial Auditorium. Now, of course, they want more.

The 19-year-old Boyle, who was also named the Outstanding Novice Boxer at the Burlington event after winning the 152-pound title, dreams of fighting in the 2016 Olympics. Rhude, a stocky 165-pound 24-year-old, wants to turn pro and “to be on TV and be recognized,” he said. Both goals will require years of work – advancing through layers of competitions to even reach the Olympic trials, or taking the dozens of amateur matches needed to be a competent professional.

Paul Averill, 50, knows what it will take for his fighters to attain those dreams. The Concord native and his wife, Chrys, have been running the gym on Main Street for 20 years, and they’ve trained successful fighters from multiple disciplines, including kung fu national champions, decorated kickboxers and other Golden Gloves boxing champs.

Asked if it was realistic for Boyle and Gerard to aim for such lofty goals, Averill didn’t hesitate to say, “Absolutely.”

“These guys are dedicated, they push themselves and they’re both competitors,” he said.

Boyle comes from a boxing family. His father, Derek, and an uncle, Cameron Ford, were both involved in the sport. Christopher had some martial arts training and had tried boxing at another gym before discovering Averill’s two years ago.

“I started taking more classes and hitting all the open gyms they allowed me to go to,” said Boyle, who lives in Hopkinton now but graduated from Concord High last year. “Eventually I started going there every day and getting my stuff together so I could get on the fight team.”

He had his first fight in Somersworth in November of 2011 and said it was “insane, I’ve never felt anything like it.” He went 2-2 in his next four fights, which included a loss in a Golden Gloves title bout last year in Lowell, Mass. A more-seasoned Boyle won all three of his matches in the Golden Gloves this time around, and he showed off tremendous defense and counterpunching in the Feb. 2 title match, a three-round decision over local favorite John Haley.

“A lot of the officials there said it was the best fight they had seen all year,” Averill said.

“That final match was his best match,” said Rhude, who watched from backstage before winning his title in the very next fight. “It was just back and forth and they beat the hell out of each other.”

Rhude wrestled at Newfound High and was a Division II champ and Meet of Champions runner-up before graduating in 2006. He started boxing two years ago because “I was out of shape, and I watched the movie The Fighter, so that kind of sparked me to get into it.”

While Rhude wanted some fitness from boxing, there was no question he also wanted to compete.

“As soon as Gerard walked through that door, you knew the kid was a competitor,” Averill said. “He had it written all over him.”

Not only is Rhude tenacious in the ring, he has a powerful build and the potential for knockout power.

“This is a kid that can be explosive, Tyson-esque, if you will,” Averill said. “That’s that we’re working on with him.”

He also has a head for the sport. In Burlington, he worked the inside in his semifinal win, but stayed on the outside in the finals to take a decision over Tom Cianchetta.

“It was his teammate I fought (in the semifinals), so I knew the kid was going to have tape on me working the inside, so I figured I’d throw him a curveball,” Rhude said.

With their wins in Burlington, Rhude and Boyle both qualified for the New England Champions tournament in Lowell. But Boyle had to withdraw because of illness and Rhude lost his first match.

“It was my first time fighting a lefty and my mind was going 100 miles an hour,” said Rhude, who has a 7-3 record. “I felt him out in the first round and pressured him in the second, but in the third I just let off the pedal and lost it.”

Now that he’s had 10 fights, Rhude has moved out of the novice class and into the open class for amateurs, which means he can fight any amateur with 11 or more matches. In other words, he’s swimming in the deep waters now.

“It’s definitely a step up,” Rhude said. “I want to go down to fight at 152; I think I could be really strong there. I don’t know if I’ll make it, but I’m trying.”

The next event for Boyle will likely be a P.A.L. tournament in Fall River, Mass., in September. After that, he’ll be in the open class just like Rhude, with a range of possibilities in front of him.

While Rhude is trying to drop from 165 to 152, the younger and taller Boyle is trying to move up from 152 to 165. So the two of them are good sparring partners, although Rhude made it seem like he was the underdog when he stepped into Averill’s ring against Boyle on Tuesday.

Maybe it was just a ploy, because it was Boyle who wound up with the bloody nose. As he was trying to clean his face with a paper towel clutched awkwardly in his glove, Rhude squatted in a separate corner with a wide grin cracking his face.

“That’s what it’s all about right there,” he said.

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3371 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

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