BY: Richard Quiñones (Journeymen Boxing) Saleem Kelly knew his stable mate Garrett Dugan would be watching his fight against Isaiah Costanon when the two met to see who would advance in a 152lb novice open division when they squared off in a semifinal bout at the Ike Williams Boxing Academy during week seven action of the New Jersey Golden Gloves tournament.
And in the end, Kelly (Middletown PAL) did not disappoint as he earned a very close and tough split-decision win over hard-nosed Costanon (Garden State Boxing).
The opening round, saw both boxers test each other’s limits out, as they both let their hands go in a furious onslaught of punches exchanged in the center of the ring. Later in the round, the crowd started to will on Kelly, who feed off of the emotion. He was able to land a series of body shots against Costanon and pushed him back with some sharp jabs as the round ended.
In round two, Costanon decided to be more aggressive and bullied Kelly up against the ropes, peppering him with body shots. However, Kelly caught him with a gorgeous right uppercut and then followed that up with a straight left hand scoring on both shots. Costanon, though, to his credit showed tremendous resolve and toughness and more importantly skill midway through the stanza.
He strung together a brilliant left-right body combination then capped it off nicely with a solid right uppercut that scored as the round came near a close.
Round three was an all out slugfest and a battle of wills as both boxers landed some devastating shots. Kelly caught Costanon will some very timely body shots, while Costanon nailed Kelly with several counter shots to the pleasure of the crowd.
Kelly’s last gasp might have swayed the judges as he kept going to the body over and over and over, and it seemed to slow down the warrior Costanon.
“I just kept throwing punches all over, I knew I had to work the body, a smiling Kelly said afterwards.
In the night’s most entertaining affair, JMB scored it slightly in favor of Kelly, 29-28.
“He just kept coming, I am not used to that, he (Costanon) was my toughest opponent that I have faced in my career,” concluded Kelly, who was fighting in just his 18th amateur bout.