(Written by Gary "Digital" Williams)
We now begin our recap of the Beltway Boxing scene of 2013. Starting today, we will bring you our Beltway Boxing Year-End Awards, bringing one to you every day. Once again, for those new to what we do, we have six awards:
Rookie of the Year
Prospect of the Year
Knockout of the Year
Bout of the Year
Card of the Year
Boxer of the Year
We start, however, with an overview of what was a very busy and exciting year for Beltway Boxing. Our theme this year -- “The Year of Performance and Possibility” -- is similar to last year’s theme of Possibility and Missed Opportunity. However, this year, more local pros stepped up to the plate and made significant strides in their careers, positioning themselves for what should be a very interesting 2014.
A number of Beltway Boxers won regional awards. Phil Jackson Benson captured two regional titles in back-to-back contests. Dusty Hernandez Harrison won the WBC Youth Welterweight title. Tony Jeter held on to his WBC Fecarbox middleweight championship while Seth Mitchell won back his NABO Heavyweight title before losing it to Chris Arreola. Gary Russell, Jr. rose to the mandatory featherweight contender to the WBO title.
Also, Tony Thompson continued his relevance in the heavyweight division at age 42 with two upset wins over David Price in England. Only a unanimous decision loss to Kubrat Pulev kept Thompson from getting a third title shot at heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. Fernando Guerrero lost his bid for a world title when he was knocked out by WBO Middleweight champ Peter Quillin in April.
Beltway prospects Antoine Douglas, Emmanuel Taylor and Thomas Williams, Jr. made numerous appearances on national television and positioned themselves for more notable TV appearances (some already scheduled) for early 2014.
Local ladies captured world titles in 2013. Tori Nelson had four championship bouts during the year and was able to gain her third world title in September and defend that same title (WIBA Welterweight) in November. Jennifer Salinas captured a world belt in Bolivia this year.
The Beltway Rookie Class for 2013 was the biggest in the BATB Era as 34 locals joined the pro ranks. Their combined won-loss record: 65-9-2, 49 KO’s.
Beltway Boxing fans had numerous opportunities to catch local action in 2013. There were 29 pro cards along the Beltway; DC hosted 10 cards, one more than 2012. The big improvement was in Maryland where the state went from just four cards in 2012 to 17 in 2013. Only Northern Virginia faltered as there was only two cards in that part of the Commonwealth, down from seven the previous year.
On the amateur side, Beltway Boxers continued their prominence on a national and international scale. Locals claimed two more National Golden Gloves titles in Salt Lake City, UT as Gary Antonio Russell (123 Pounds) and Lamont Roach, Jr.(132 Pounds) won their respective weight classes. Russell became the third member of his family to win a national Golden Gloves title but then improved on what his brothers (Gary Jr. and Allen) did by winning the “Golden Boy” award as the Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament. This is the second straight year a Beltway Amateur has won the Golden Boy trophy following Jerry Odom in 2012. Local boxers have now won eight Golden Gloves National titles in the past four years.
Amateurs won six titles at the USA Nationals this year in Spokane, WA. Malik Jackson and Franchon Crews won Elite Division championships while Russell, Roach, Jr., Patrick Harris and Kareem Martin won titles in the Youth Division. Roach, Jr. was named the Outstanding Youth Boxer for the tournament.
At the National Silver Gloves in Independence, MO, Lorenzo Simpson captured his third straight title.
Also, Jackson, Crews, Martin, Roach and Jordan White made overseas trips representing the United States. Martin won a gold medal at the Klitschko Brothers Tournament in the Ukraine while Roach captured a bronze medal.
We also honor those who left us in 2013. In Memoriam:
Sam Garrett, PVA Official
Harold “Twin” Jackson, local boxing trainer
Ray Klingmeyer, Maryland referee and judge
Lou Leavey, Maryland State Athletic Commission official
Bill McCaffrey, chair of the Maryland State Athletic Commission
Vardell McCann, local boxing trainer
Murray B. Smith, father of promoter Jake Smith