But it was the unusual location of their first fight that was their strongest similarity.
“We were at this venue that was like a gentlemen’s club,” Ho, whose first fight was in 2015, said. “They were smoking and it was dark. It was kind of weird.”
Beeson explained it was the Boxing Smoker, a fall event in Richmond, Va., that gave boxers a chance to prepare for regular competition in the spring.
“It was just drunk business dudes smoking and watching young kids fight, I guess, for fun,” Beeson said. “And it was intense because I wasn’t used to that many people."
"And then you’ve got people in the crowd screaming for you; they don’t even know who you are, but they just see your school colors and stuff."
Both fighters have come a long way since their strange initial foray into collegiate boxing. Both are headed to the National Collegiate Boxing Association's national championship tournament, which will begin on Thursday night in West Point, N.Y. Ho will box in the 125-pound class and enters the competition filled with confidence.
“I think I have a really good shot," he said. "I don’t really see myself losing."
He’s got a reason to make bold proclamations. Ho said he has gone 3-0 this season, including a win in the Midwest Regional Tournament that saw him knock down his final opponent twice. This will be his first time fighting in the championship tournament.
“I’ve been training since the start of the semester,” said Ho, who serves as the club's president and also has a brother on the team. “I committed myself to it early on and I had to increase my training a lot more for this semester for the national tournament.”
That increased training regiment means training twice a day, five days a week. It combines a mix of high intensity interval training, sparring with partners and boxing specific exercises like working with a heavy bag, jumping rope and shadow boxing.
Unlike Ho, Beeson has been here before. He made it to the national tournament back in the spring of 2015 and placed third in that tournament. Now he’s back, three years later, to see if he can win it all in his final year at North Carolina.
By the numbers, he hasn’t had as good a year. According to Beeson, he's gone 2-2 this season in the 195-pound class. But those numbers don’t come without controversy.
“The two fights I lost, one fight was close, it could have gone either way," Beeson said. "The other fight I definitely won, but they counted it as a loss. I had really bad refs. You can go back and watch the tape and everything."
"You know I sound salty about it, like I’m making stuff up, but everyone in the crowd was kind of like, ‘Woah,’ and even their coach came up afterwards and was like, ‘Yeah, that was a crap call. Sorry about that,'” he said.
Beeson explained that in collegiate boxing, officiating can skew to favor the military academies, which are powerhouses. In 2016, the United States Military Academy and the United States Air Force Academy placed first and second in the men's team competition, respectively.
“It was the last day of the tournament," Beeson said. "Seven Navy fights, six losses. Last Navy fight, and it’s like do they want to give Navy all loses?”
He maintains, however, that he bears nothing against the boxers from the other schools.
“They’re still great people," Beeson said. "They’re still college kids just like us."
For Beeson, its not his record that matters. It’s the experience.
“I’m one of the older guys in my weight class," Beeson said. "I have a lot more experience than most people in my weight class. I’m confident in it, and I think I can win it.”
Beeson and Ho will face up to three opponents on their path to bringing home a national championship, which would be the club's first since Michele Kern in 2015.
For these two boxers, three fights is all that stands in the way of validation.
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