LOWELL -- Ricqui Pacheco is a tough kid who likes to brawl in the ring. That's how his trainer, Shawn McLaughlin, likes to describe him.

However, when Pacheco stays away from the brawling, he's at his very best as a boxer. That tactic was on display on Tuesday night in a 141-pound Golden Gloves novice bout at Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

Pacheco, an 18-year-old from Salem, Mass., had his right jab flowing and landing with great frequency. Using his lanky arms for a distinct reach advantage, Pacheco defeated Worcester's Antonio Garcia with a unanimous decision in the three-round match.

"This is my second time in the Golden Gloves.

Ricqui Pacheco of the Lowell West End Gym, right, is declared the winner by unanimous decision over Antonio Garcia in a 141-pound Golden Gloves bout. The
Ricqui Pacheco of the Lowell West End Gym, right, is declared the winner by unanimous decision over Antonio Garcia in a 141-pound Golden Gloves bout. The referee is Mike Ryan. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

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I fought last year and did OK -- I lost though," said Pacheco. "The biggest difference was using more of the jab and right hand. I was aggressive and I kept going to what was working."

Pacheco, who trains at the West End Gym in Lowell, improved his record to 5-1, with his only loss coming in last year's Golden Gloves. On this night, he demonstrated the quickness and finesse of a seasoned veteran.

He is originally from the Dominican Republic and moved to Salem when he was 11. He attended Salem High and started boxing when he was a freshman.

McLaughlin is a history teacher and ROTC instructor at Salem High. That is how the two met. They now train together in Lowell, and with every day that passes, Pacheco's aspirations get bigger.

"I want to be a pro boxer," Pacheco said.

He's not only adjusting to the sport as his boxing experience increases, he's also continuously adjusting to being away from his native country.

"It's not that it's difficult, but I do miss it," he said. "Family is the main thing I miss. My mom and my dad are up here, but the rest of my family is still down there. I haven't been back there since I came here."

Pacheco often falls into the brawling trap inside the ring.

Ricqui Pacheco of Lowell’s West End Gym, left, connects with a jab to the head of Antonio Garcia during the Golden Gloves in Lowell. SUN/JULIA
Ricqui Pacheco of Lowell's West End Gym, left, connects with a jab to the head of Antonio Garcia during the Golden Gloves in Lowell. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

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His progression is very much a work in progress, especially getting him to permanently deviate from the tendency to brawl. But he's making big strides.

"He's just starting out, this was only his sixth fight," said McLaughlin. "You can see he is a natural talent in boxing. He picks it up really quickly."

"He's a very polite, respectful kid. He did ROTC and that's how I got to know him. I'm a colonel in the army reserves, so I got to know him and we started working out. I brought him to the West End Gym, and he's just a natural. Very coachable, and a nice kid. If he keeps picking up that finesse game, he can go a long way."

It was a fairly successful night for West End Gym boxers.

Emmanuel Antonetty won his 114-pound novice semifinal with a decision over Nashua's Ron Angeles. The decision was unanimous and Antonetty will move on in the tournament.

West End's Joshua Martinez, of Lawrence, got a victory in the night's quickest bout.

Martinez landed a powerful right hook that knocked Haverhill's Geraldo Torres down to the mat within the first 45 seconds of the first round. It was certainly a strong punch, but it wasn't what ultimately ended Torres' night.

Torres appeared to severely sprain his ankle during the fall and was not able to get back on his feet without the help of his trainers. The referee stopped the fight, awarding Martinez with the win. Torres, unable to walk on his own, then had to be carried over the top rope by his trainers.

A fan in the crowd was heard saying, "I've been coming to the Gloves for 15 years, and I've never seen someone carried over the ropes."

Other semifinal winners included Lawrence's Geraldo Claudio, who defeated West End's Jhonny Portes (Salem, N.H.) by decision in a 132-pound bout.

Ryan Clark, of Barrington, N.H., won his 152-pound semifinal by decision over West End's Xavier Vega, of Lawrence.

Somerville's Evan Payne won his 165-pound semifinal over North Andover's Thomas O'Connell by way of decision.

There were eight total bouts that were fought. The boxers scheduled for the ninth bout never made it to auditorium. 

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