BY: Richard Quiñones (Journeymen Boxing) The New Jersey Golden Gloves tournament kicked off Saturday night at the Christian Brother’s Academy in Lincroft, New Jersey. Although, some fights fell off the card, the gym was jam-packed and the crowd was electric and into the action from the opening bout.
The fighters did not disappoint as every match was competitive and entertaining.
Sal Taormina (Freehold Boxing) set the tone of the night as he let his hands go right at the bell against Lloyd Patrick Jr. (Unattached) in a 119lbs. sub-novice contest.
Taormina started off with several short jabs and some solid combinations, pushing back Patrick and making the young fighter cover up quickly.
However, Patrick was up to the test, as he also let his hands go, unleashing some wild hooks as the two both exchanged punches for the first thirty seconds of the opening round. Late in the round, Taormina landed a gorgeous left hook to the body, followed up with a right upper cut against the ropes.
In round two, Taormina controlled the middle of the ring and delivered some more body shots. Patrick covered up most of the time, but finally woke up in round three. He was able to land some shots, but it was to little to late as Taormina got the win.
“I feel real good. My trainer was telling me to shoot the jab and shoot the right and stay calm,” Taormina said.
Imani Crawley (Colosseum Boxing) put on a clinic courtesy of his slick straight left jab against Jair Saanchez (Nick Catones MMA) in a 152lb.s sub-novice bout. The 25-year-old Crawley used his left from the get go against the smaller Saanchez easily winning round one.
In the second round, Sanchez took a more aggressive approach and gallantly tried to get inside, but the task was tough. Crawley would move around well in the ring, controlling the center of the ring and using his distance the rest of the stanza.
He closed out the round with several stiff left jabs, finishing off with a nice right that scored en route to the win.
“I knew once I saw a smaller opponent, I knew I wanted to keep my distance and work on my jab and if he tries to come inside, hit him with the right,” Crawley, who only had one amateur bout entering the tournament, said afterward.
Pedro Vardejo (Elizabeth Rec.) simply was able to outwork Frank Fortunato (Checkmates BC) in their 152lbs. sub-novice title. He was able to back him up by using his jab for most of the first round. In the opening seconds of the second round, Vardejo landed a nice straight right to the head and then followed that up with a left hook to the body and clean hook up top that scored.
He closed out the final round with several hard straight rights that pushed back Fortunato, who showed he had a tough chin.
“I can’t explain what I am feeling right now, I just tried to get inside and use my power,” said Fortunato, who was participating in just his second amateur fight.
If Taahir Muhammad (Elite Heat) looked a bit off and sluggish in his 165lbs. sub-novice win over Jerry Mooney (Unattached) he had a good reason for it. His walk around weight is 178, but he needed to drop close to 20 pounds over the last two weeks to make weight Saturday night.
“I was not 100 percent for this fight, I dropped 15 pounds in a week and a half, I was pretty weak,” said Muhammad. If he was weak at times he didn’t show it because he was able to pick and choose his spots. The 20-year-old also showed some veteran savvy in the ring as he would always come back to the jab after throwing combinations.
In round two, he really got his jab going, pushing back Mooney several times.
“Of course, that is something that we always work on, my trainers and me. I knew if I could get that jab going I would be alright,” he added.
Alberto Del Velle (Relentless Training) was very focused and content with using body shots during his 141lbs. novice win over Aaron Terry (Checkmate). He started off the fight with several hard shots to the body and a couple of time hurt Terry.
Later in the fight, he landed a brutal three-punch combination downstairs and finished it off with a left hook up top that scored.
“Go to the body and up to the head,” he said. The 27-year-old was fighting in just his second amateur fight and credited his trainers for his jab and movement in the ring. “I have really good trainers,” he concluded.
Jose Juan Zapata (Elizabeth Rec) earned a tough win over Arnaldo Lopez (ICAT Boxing) in a 141lbs. novice bout. His punches were cleaner and crisper and he also kept his distance well midway through round one, which set the tone for the rest for the rest of the fight. Lopez looked a bit winded in the second round and found himself backpedalling.
He hung in there and landed his best punch of the night, when he scored thanks to a looping left hook that caught Zapata walking in.
In the final bout of the night Garett Duggan (Middletown PAL) earned the Journeymen Boxing’s “Fighter of the Night” award for his all-around solid performance in a 141lb.s novice win over Dontal McGhee (Brick City Hitters). He also earned the “Cassanova Gloves” Punch of the night in the process.
Two nasty left hooks to the head of McGhee got the crowd going midway through round one, with the second one earning a standing-eight count. McGhee hung in there, but was moving backwards most of the night.
Late in round one he had a nice flurry of punches, highlighted by a short jab up top that scored. However, Duggan had the quicker hands, and scored in round two with a short jab to the head.
Later in the ring, he would land another straight right hand that snapped back the head of Duggan, prompting another standing-eight by the referee. He would cruise from there.
“I saw his jab, and he was coming back a little lazy, and I saw I could land some shots home and finish off my left hook,” Duggan said. “We work that core in camp to test that body and it worked.”
The 20-year-old was not shy when he talked about his chances going forward.
“I feel great, I was thinking about cutting down to 132 because I feel so good, and we will see where it goes from here and hopefully the tournament comes to me later on,” he concluded.
Week two of the New Jersey Golden Gloves continues Saturday, March 7th, at Global Boxing Gym in North Bergen, New Jersey.
Opening night recap see below.