The Golden Gloves is one of Amateur boxing’s greatest champions, having been a tradition that dates back to 1928 when just 8 divisions were fought for with boxers from Chicago winning every division. Great fighters like Joe Louis, Muhammed Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield have all won the competition. Though with 2010 about to come to a close, I’ve felt it was time to look at some of the recent winners of the competition. For this I’ve decided to start with a class that seems like it’s going to start making a statement as professionals, the Class of 2007.
Luis Yanez won the 106lbs division title and proved to be one of the best amateur fighters in the US going some 89 straight fights with out a loss domestically. Though he failed to shine internationally despite competing at any number of international meets. Yanez turned professional in February 2009 and has gone 4-0 (0) as a professional though has been out of action for 10 months.
Aaron Alafa won the 112lbs title, adding it to wins in 2001 and 2006 as well as the 2002 US amateur Light Flyweight title. Like Yanez Alafa was a true stand out in the US as an amateur and has since turned professional, though with poor results. Alafa has gone 3-2 as a professional since turning over in April 2008 and hasn’t fought since December 2009. Things got off to a bad start when he was dropped in his debut though he has since been outpointed twice to low level fighters.
Ronny Rios won the 119lbs division, adding it to his 2007 US amateur title (and subsequently 2008 US amateur title). Rios turned over in October 2008 and has managed to rack up 12 straight wins with 6 of those by KO. Currently preparing for his 17th fight (later in December) it’s only a matter of time before Rios starts to set his mind on titles Boxrec rank him as the 6th best Super Bantamweight in the US and 88th in the world and at just 20 years old he really is a fighter to keep an eye on.
Hylon Williams, Jr. won the 125lbs division and is now signed to Golden Boy Promotions after having been a dominant amateur teen sensation. He had won the US Olympic trials, the National Pal and the National Jr Olympics before turning professional. Currently campaigning as a Lightweight Williams has been featured in Ring magazine and racked up a perfect 12-0 (3) record though has been inactive since December 2009 which is a shame.
Sadam Ali won the 132lbs title and is one of the most well known fighters from the 2007 Golden Gloves. Despite appearing at the 2008 Olympics he was eliminated by the talented Romanian Georgian Popescu in the opening round. Swiftly afterwards he would turn professional and make his debut in January 2009 and with fights through ’09 and ’10 he has managed to rack up a 10-0 (6) record, including making appearances on televised cards and stopping experienced fighters like Lenin Arroyo. He has shown flashes of excellence that few would expect of such a young fighter. Sadam fights his 11th professional contests in a few days when he faces Manuel Guzman on the Tomasz Adamek/Vinny Maddalone card.
Brad Solomon won the 141lbs title and added it to 2 previous Golden Gloves triumphs and now looks like one of the sleeper prospects in the US that seems to have remained under the radar despite some very impressive performances. So far Solomon’s professional record has grown to 15-0 (7) though it’s been the impressive wins over Ray Robinson and Kenny Galarza that have really been the things to take note of. An up coming fight with Anges Adjaho on the Oliver McCall/Fres Oquendo card will allow Solomon to gain some exposure and hopefully continue his rise.
Demetrius Andrade won the 152lbs division and also managed to win gold at the World Amateur Championships before going to the 2008 Olympics. Though he failed to light up the Beijing games in the way many expected him to he was quick to turn professional under a bit of a murmur of hype. After winning his debut in October 2008 he racked up regular wins over low quality professionals to rack up an 11-0 (8) record. With a tricky southpaw stance, a freakish 6 foot 1 frame and an ability to still make 154lbs, Andrade could pose trouble for anyone when he matures, though he probably needs to be stepped up a little bit more than he has been.
Shawn Porter won the 165lbs title and prove to be an excellent amateur, with a very professional style, aggressive, hard hitting and fast it was only a matter of time before he turned over and he did so in October 2008. Since then he has run up a record of 17-0 (13) and collected a couple of fringe titles, though he has surprisingly cut his weight and is now campaigning at 147lbs, where he scored a brilliant win over Hector Munoz. Maybe his most impressive victory to date however was against Ray Robinson on a televised card. Although he has shown offensive prowess he has also shown defensive weakness which will help to establish him with the fans if he’s given time to shine.
Siju Shabazz won the 175lbs title, though seems to have disappeared from boxing. He’s not turned professional and it’s difficult to find much on him at all sadly.
The winner at heavyweight was Deontay Wilder, who seemed to come from nowhere to win the title, then went on to win Bronze at the 2008 Olympics (the only US boxer to medal at the games). He turned professional with a fair bit of momentum behind him, stood at 6’7” and with a huge 84” reach he seemed to have all the physical gifts to be a star. He was quickly signed by a the agents behind Floyd Mayweather Jr and linked closely to Golden Boy Promotions, though has failed to shine as a professional. Despite holding a perfect 14-0 (14) record, he has yet to face anyone that you could even call a challenger, instead knocking over unfit fighters like Dustin Nichols. Although Wilder showed promise he’s seemingly another protected American heavyweight waiting for his chance at a title. Though whether or not he’ll ever be able to get that far is a huge question it’s self.
The super heavyweight champion was Nathaniel James, another fighter who has since turned professional but is yet to prove anything at all as a professional where he has racked up a 3-0 (1) record. It’ll be interesting to see where he can end up but I hold little hope of James doing anything special.
The class of 2007 Golden Gloves winners does have some great fighters to look out for, Rios, Solomon, Ali, Andrade and Porter are all worth watching. Though Wilder seems unlikely to fill the void of American heavyweights.