After an exciting night of boxing in Waldof, five Prince George's County boxers earned berths to the May 12-19 National Golden Gloves Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Friday night's Golden Gloves Regional Tournament fights at the Waldof Jaycees Community Center pitted fighters from Washington, D.C. and Maryland against boxers from Virginia and North Carolina.
In the first Open Division fight of the evening, Gary Antonio Russell and Karin Steven Zaiden didn't disappoint. Russell, who's part of a proud boxing family, landed a few lefts to Zaiden's head, but his sinuses quickly became an issue. Russell said the pollen season in D.C. has been unusually cruel to him this year.
“After the first round, I was more tired than usual,” said Russell, who lives in Capitol Heights. “I lost a lot of wind and I came to the corner and had tons of mucus and was blowing my nose. My dad [and trainer, Gary Russell, Sr.] made the adjustment and helped me with my movement.”
Antonio Russell, who recently won a USA Boxing title in Spokane, Wash., said Zaiden presented his toughest fight in the recent weeks, but he still managed to pull out the victory.
“Of course I'm excited to go to Salt Lake,” said Russell, who boxes out of Enigma Gym. “I've just got to make sure I get my sinuses straight by then.”
Another boxer who won a championship in Spokane fought immediately after Russell: Lamont Roach, Jr. from Upper Marlboro.
In the first round, Roach, Jr. worked the body and head in impressive fashion and scored a knockdown against his opponent in the 132-pound weight class, Everett Sawin.
Roach, Jr., who trains with NoXcuse, came out strong in the second round as well and landed an dynamic combination to the body and head and earned a second knockdown, after which the fight easily could have been stopped. Calm, composed and strong in defense, Roach, Jr. knocked down Sawin twice in the third round and won with a dominating performance after the referee stopped the fight.
“If the referee wasn't going to stop it I was going to have to make [Sawin] stop,” Roach, Jr. said. “I'm just trying to go for the sweep. Always come prepared.”
Patrick Harris, a third champion at the USA Nationals in Spokane, fought next at the 141-pound weight class. Hyattsville's boxer out of Headbangers gym opened the bout with bevy of strong body blows against his opponent, Seth Billups.
The second round was relatively even, while in the third round, he knocked Billups to his rear 10 seconds in and appeared energized from that point forward.
“It feels real good,” said Harris, who was named the Regional's Most Outstanding Boxer. “Especially because I train so hard. We train every day. Football and basketball players, they take days off, but we go hard every day.”
Harris, a senior at Charles H. Flowers, said he plans to focus on turning pro after he graduates.
In the 152-pound Open Division fight, Kareem Martin used a bevy of powerful punches with both hands to systematically dismantle his opponent, Eric Hernandez, in three rounds.
In the night's final Open Division bout, another NoXcuse boxer, Joe Jones III, squared off against Richard Diggs II in the 178-pound weight class.
Jones III opened the first round sluggishly and got caught in a number of quick combinations by Diggs II, but ended the round strong with two quick blows to the head and a knockdown.
The second round provided more back-and-forth action as both boxers landed a flurry of punches. Halfway through the round, however, Jones III landed haymaker after haymaker on Diggs II. The referee stopped the contest in the third round.
“I thought it was a good fight,” Jones III said. “I'd give myself a C- for it. I noticed he couldn't really stop the left, so I kept coming with that hand.”
In the Novice Division, it was a split night of results for Prince George's County's fighters as 132-pound Christian Bratton (Greenbelt, Md.) scored a win via walkover against Sherali Khakmetov while at the 152-pound weight class, Largo's Lamonte Jackson started with a strong first round, landing a heavy left to Matthew Abregu's head, but he tired quickly in the second and third rounds and Abregu won the bout.
Golden Gloves Regional Championships
114: Noah Crespo (Alexandria, Va.) win via walkover
123: Marquise Pryor (Baltimore, Md.) d. Henri Mekok (Midlothian, Va.)
132: Christian Bratton (Greenbelt, Md.) win via walkover
141: Diego Abregu (Sterling, Va.) d. Dionte' Burts (Washington, D.C.)
152: Matthew Abregu (Sterling, Va.) d. Lamonte Jackson (Largo, Md.)
165: Lamonte Ridley (Emporia, Va.) d. Gregory Clark (Washington, D.C.)
178: Jerrod Bowling (Washington, D.C.) d. O'Bryan Mapp (South Chesterfield, Va.)
201: Shaundre Kellum-Gee (Aberdeen, Md.) d. Charles Bright (Lessburg, Va.)
201+: Chris Laws (Newport News, Va.) d. Jeffrey Knight, Jr. (Glen Burnie, Md.)
114: Malik Jackson (Washington, D.C.) win via walkover
123: Gary Antonio Russell (Capitol Heights, Md.) d. Karin Steven Zaiden (Roanoke, Va.)
132: Lamont Roach, Jr. (Upper Marlboro, Md.) d. Everett Sawin (Blacksburg, Va.), RSC
141: Patrick Harris (Hyattsville, Md.) d. Seth Billups (Ashburn, Va.)
152: Kareem Martin (Clinton, Md.) d. Eric Hernandez (Leesburg, Va.)
165: Jerome Featherstone, Jr. (Joppa, Md.) d. Robert Sweeny (Hampton, Va.)
178: Joe Jones III (Temple Hills, Md.) d. Richard Diggs II (Suffolk, Va.), RSC