by Gautham Nagesh
The Sweet Science has experienced a resurgence in the DMV region recently, starting with Lamont Peterson’s huge upset of Amir Khan in December and continuing with standing-room crowds at the Washington Golden Gloves and Dusty Harrison’s recent outing at the Convention Center. This weekend is shaping up to be another big one for local fight fans, with two amateur cards showcasing some of the area’s brightest prospects.
Baltimore Boxing Promotions hosts a card at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, Md. on Friday night pitting fighters from Baltimore and the Armed Services against some of the best Pittsburgh has to offer. Promoter Jake Smith is banking that the football rivalry between the two industrial towns can stoke the animosity. Tickets are $30 at the door, $50 for ringside. Doors open at 6:30 pm, first bell at 8.
Saturday night brings the finals of the Washington Golden Gloves featuring a number of Stiff Jab favorites including D’Mitrius Ballard, Jerry Odom, and David “Day Day” Grayton. The indispensable Gary “Digital” Williams has been covering the tournament as always over at Boxing Along the Beltway, and reports the semifinals were packed with thrilling contests and stoppages. Here’s his look at the bout sheet for the championships.
Concentrating on the Open Division, which showcases the area’s best amateurs, the name that should leap out at most boxing fans is Gary Antonio Russell, fighting at 132 lbs. against gym-mate Joel Young. Gary is the younger brother of featherweight contender Gary Russell Jr. and one of five boys, all lightning fast and named after their father. His little brother Gary Antuanne Russell won the junior division championship at 119 lbs. this year by walkover, in the group for fighters aged 15-16.
We’ve also got love for NOMIS Boxing’s Romello Webster, who will fight for the 123-lb title against Gervonta Davis. Hopefully a win by Webster will put an end to talk from my trainer Rodriguez that yours truly should get in the ring with him. But the biggest star aside from Russell is probably Dream Team’s Michael Reed, who won the national Golden Gloves title at 141 lbs. last year and is likely to repeat against Cornell Hines of Sugar Ray Leonard Community Center.
Grayton is the headliner at 152 lbs. against Jonathan Burrs, II of Hagerstown. Barry Hunter, who trains Grayton at Headbangers, told me last week that Day Day will be turning professional soon. The move makes a lot of sense, as Grayton has already won regional title last year and fell short of the Olympics. While he should win this weekend, his heavy-handed style should make him better-suited for the professional ranks.
Hunter has also been talking up heavyweight Danny Kelly, who will fight Sean Elam of RPH Academy in the super-heavyweight (201+ lbs.) finals. I think I saw Kelly at the Khan-Peterson presser last week and he’s pretty imposing, but it might have been another heavyweight from Headbangers.
Ballard is the defending champ at 165 lbs. and should be able to handle Demond Nicholson of Cherry Lane. The 178-lb division features a rematch between national runner-up Odom and Antwan Ward of Sugar Ray Leonard’s; Odom won easily last year. Tickets range from $30 to $50 and the first bell is at 8 p.m.