By MIKE SMITH
On June 28, local fighter Paul Sarachelli ended a lengthy layoff and returned to the ring in impressive fashion, earning a first-round TKO at the Tri-State Battle of the Bronx event held at Gaelic Park in the Bronx.
Though the New Rochellean known by his fans as “Thunder” hadn’t fought in roughly a year, he showed little ring rust as he quickly dismantled his opposition at 132 pounds and proved why he’s been one of the biggest amateur draws in the area in recent years. The fight card was hosted by World Class Boxing Gym and was an officially sanctioned USA Boxing amateur event.
“He hasn’t fought for a year,” Sarachelli’s trainer, Albert Santiago, said. “So he’s been very hungry.”
Though he hadn’t taken any fights, the 18-year-old did stay active over the past 12 months, according to Santiago, stopping by the gym to train several times a week.
In preparation for his comeback, he added a wrinkle to his already exciting style.
“We’ve been working on a lot of things with him, and the biggest was body punching,” Santiago said. “Paulie’s always been kind of a head hunter, but he’s such a strong kid that once he goes to the body and takes that away, he can slow guys down and stop them, which is what happened in his last fight.”
Santiago said Sarachelli was eager to get back in the ring and try out his new style.
“The thing about most fighters at whatever level is that they get nervous before fights,” Santiago said. “With Paulie, there’s never any butterflies; he doesn’t get nervous about stepping in the ring.”
In fact, the only thing that worried Santiago heading into his charge’s fight wasn’t Sarachelli’s performance between the ropes, it was his fighter’s ability to make weight. Sarachelli, who fights at 132 pounds, generally walks around closer to 150, according to his trainer.
“I didn’t think he was going to make it,” Santiago said. “But the crazy thing is that you give him the target and he always ends up making weight.”
Given Sarachelli’s weight-drop–and the fact that he looked so good in the ring in his return, Santiago said he would give his fighter a week’s respite from the gym before getting back to work.
“He had to lose 12 pounds, so I’m giving him a break,” Santiago said. “But then he’s going to come back, we’re going to work and, hopefully, look for his next fight in about two months.”