Benet graduate Lee has a special Valentine's Day planned
This Valentine's Day Mike Lee looks to knock his date right in the kisser.
The 2005 Benet graduate, a Notre Dame-schooled finance student turned professional boxer, is fighting Gary "Freak Train" Tapusoa for the vacant Universal Boxing Federation All America Cruiserweight title, 9:30 p.m. Central Time Saturday at Resorts World Casino in Queens, New York.
The six-round bout, to be broadcast on CBS Sports, shares featured status with the 10-round heavyweight match between Derric Rossy and Akhror Muralimov.
Sporting an unblemished 13-0 record with 7 knockouts as a light heavyweight since turning pro in 2010, Wheaton native Lee, 27, is moving up in class for a first shot at a title. Tapusoa, a 35-year-old out of Independence, Missouri, is 6-3-1 with 5 knockouts.
"To come up through the ranks, to start fighting for a small belt, yeah, I'm excited," Lee said Monday from a sauna in Hollywood, where he's been living and training the past five months. "That definitely is a motivating factor -- and actually that event itself. I'm fighting the main event."
Lee respects every man he faces and admitted fear also is a motivator. Fear of losing.
"Everything changes with one punch," Lee said.
His last fight, July 25 at the UIC Pavilion, was a six-round majority decision over Paul Gonsalves. It was Lee's first majority decision in three years after a seven-bout string of either technical knockouts or unanimous decisions, according to the BoxRec website.
The former Chicago Golden Gloves 178-pound champion and three-time winner of Notre Dame's Bengal Bouts is doing all he can to keep his record perfect. His trainer is retired heavyweight Chris Byrd, who went 41-5-1 in a career that saw him win three belts and collect wins over such boxers as Evander Holyfield and Vitali Klitschko.
Lee, who has another round of Subway commercials that have not yet aired on television, called Tapusoa tough and strong.
"But at the end of the day he doesn't have my speed, he doesn't have my skills, so I feel really confident coming into this one," Lee said. "I think really my asset, as I'm getting further along in my career, is my speed and my combinations and my athleticism. I have power, the power's there, I have knockouts. At this point it's about putting the combinations and the speed together."
An eligible bachelor, Lee has the brains to lay down his brawn whenever he wants. He "keeps sharp" in finance by trading on his own, and he plans on launching a healthy meal delivery company in April.
What really excites him about Saturday, in addition to the prospect of a 14-0 record and a cruiserweight belt, is an opportunity to join World Boxing Hall of Fame announcer "Colonel" Bob Sheridan on television after his own fight, doing color commentary.
Lee's obviously got options, but like his corporate finance future, he considers it "in the distance."
"I plan on this year, 2015, staying busy, having four, five fights," Lee said. "Am I happy with my career? Yes, I've beaten whoever they've put up in front of me. But I'd like to fight more often and have bigger fights coming up."
Making a splash
On the eve of the Feb. 7 conference boys swim meets, Evanston swim coach Kevin Auger sent out his periodic rankings. At the top was Glenbrook South, but local schools were well represented.
West Suburban Silver champion Hinsdale Central was No. 2, DuPage Valley Conference champ Naperville Central No. 3 and Upstate Eight Conference winner Metea Valley earned No. 4 on Auger's list.
Also on his top 20 were No. 13 Wheaton co-op, the DVC runner-up; and No. 16 Waubonsie Valley, which followed Metea in the conference standings. Neuqua Valley, third at the UEC meet, was among Auger's "Best of the Rest."
In an 83-60 win at Alverno College in Milwaukee, the Benedictine University women's basketball team won its 500th game in program history, which started in 1975-76. It also marked the 50th victory of coach Kristen Gillespie.
After Southern Illinois University athletic director Mario Moccia took a similar position at New Mexico State in January, SIU established a search committee for a new athletic director. The 11-person committee includes 2011 Naperville Central graduate Alyssa Wunderlich, a senior pitcher on the Salukis' softball team.
Hoops for Heart jamming
On Friday, Lake Park will make raising money for charity fun.
The physical education department's Hoops for Heart event is a 3-on-3 basketball tournament spanning both West and East campuses with all proceeds going to the American Heart Association.
Initially a fundraiser dating to 1998 called "Around the World" that drew limited participation, Lake Park teacher and coach Dave Mikes commanded and sought more bang for the bucks.
"I needed to do something great," said Mikes, a 1996 Lake Park graduate who is the Lancers' sophomore baseball coach and runs games in the West campus competition gym and field house. Stacy Chojnacki helps coordinate it and runs freshman and sophomore games in two gyms at the East campus.
Since the format changed in 2004 to the 3-on-3 tournament, Hoops for Heart has raised $80,419.82 for the Heart Association. Last year's haul was $13,068.72. Of course, this year's goal is more than that.
"The first year we raised $1,900 and we went up from there," said Mikes, a former 3-on-3 player who thought a tournament might catch on.
"It is a schoolwide event that all the kids look forward to," he said, "because the whole school's involved, whether you're participating in the tournament or you come down to watch your friends play."
Teams consist of three or four players, some with both boys and girls on them. At the East campus 34 teams have signed up, 53 at West.
"Believe me, we've had some good (coed) teams," Mikes said.
Participants pay a $10 entry fee, and Mikes admittedly finds any way within reason to pump up American Heart Association donations. Bracelets, T-shirts, wristband passes to watch it. This year Lake Park's culinary classes are making smoothies for $1 a pop.
Anyone interested on adding to the cause can, of course, contact Mikes at firstname.lastname@example.org and Chojnacki at email@example.com.
"It really is a cool day here," Mikes said.
Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1