MERRILLVILLE | When his boxing coach proposed a new training strategy, Raul Sanchez Jr. was all for it.
After all, what growing teenager doesn't want to eat?
"In the past, we tried to keep his weight down," coach Alex Sepulveda said. "It's a boxing tradition to train to go up against guys smaller than your walk-around weight."
As a bantamweight and lower, Sanchez has had consistent success as he has won numerous Junior Olympic and Silver Gloves state titles, and in 2009 won his division in the Title National Championships before taking runner-up at the Ringside World Championships.
Since then, the Portage 15-year-old has grown a couple of inches.
"That's when we decided not to have him train to keep his weight down," Sepulveda said. "He would have to spar with and go up against heavier fighters, but so far it's been working out great."
At the Indiana Junior Olympic Boxing Championships held April 26-28 at the Ryves Community Center in Terre Haute, Sanchez won his third title in four years after stopping his light-welterweight (132-141 pounds) finals opponent a little more than 90 seconds in the first round.
"He got the stoppage after throwing 19 straight punches," Sepulveda said. "That extra weight hasn't affected his speed or punching power."
"I feel good at this weight," said Sanchez, who hovers between 132 and 138 pounds. "I don't get tired and I feel I can handle bigger fighters.
"They may punch harder, but I haven't been hurt yet."
The J.O. state title advances Sanchez to the J.O. Regionals to be held May 25-27 in Cleveland.
"We feel good about our chances," Sepulveda said. "Raul can box, he can brawl, he can get inside against someone taller.
"He can also stick and move. That's what we've been working on. Sometimes it's not a good idea to trade punches with someone."