Monday, January 4, 2016

"The Accomplishments" A Recap Of Beltway Boxing In 2015!

2012 INTERNATIONAL BOXING HALL OF FAMER Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson the face of the 2015 Boxing Along The Beltway Awards

Happy New Year and welcome to our recap of Beltway Boxing 2015 where every day this week, we will hand out our year-end awards.  As usual, we will have six categories:

Rookie of the Year

Prospect of the Year

Knockout of the Year

Bout of the Year

Card of the Year

Boxer of the Year

However, we start with a summary of Beltway Boxing 2015- a year where the big question as the year began was whether Beltway Boxers would be able to build on the advancements made in 2014. 

The answer to that question was a resounding yes as a number of locals moved from prospect to contender and, yes, to champion status.  This is why Beltway Boxing 2015 is being called “The Year of Accomplishment.”  

No accomplishment was bigger than Gary Russell, Jr. capturing the WBC Featherweight championship on March 28 with a fourth-round TKO over Jhonny Gonzalez in Las Vegas, NV. 
The year turned out to be a huge one for the Russell Family as Antonio made his pro debut and Antuanne became the first local since Gary, Jr. to make the United States Olympic Team.

Former world champion Lamont Peterson became a mainstay on the new Premier Boxing Champions TV series with two quality bouts -- a majority decision loss to Danny Garcia and a majority decision victory over previously-undefeated Dominican Republic Olympic Gold Medalist Felix Diaz that was held in Fairfax, VA on October 17.    

Two Beltway pros put themselves in good position to possibly earn title shots sometime in 2016.  Antoine Douglas and Dominic Wade won key nationally-televised bouts in 2015 -- Douglas had three impressive knockout performances while Wade won a split decision over former world champion Sam Soliman.  Both men are ranked in the top 15 by all four major governing bodies.

Beltway prospects started to make key moves in 2015. Junior middleweight Jarrett Hurd had three quality wins including one that  introduced himself to the national scene -- an eye-opening sixth-round TKO over previously-undefeated Frank Galarza on November 14 in Las Vegas.  Hurd is now ranked 11th in the world by the WBA.

Mike Reed, the Beltway Boxing Prospect of the Year in 2014, fought five times in 2015 against solid competition, scoring four knockouts along the way.  

Other prospects, such as D’Mitrius Ballard, Lamont Roach, Jr. and the Fox Brothers (Alantez and Mykal), stayed on the path towards making big moves in 2016.

Beltway Boxers continued to make their mark on national television in 2015.  Locals appeared 33 times on national TV -- three more than in the previous year.  Douglas’s three appearances led the way, followed by two for Peterson, Roach, Jr., Jerry Odom, Gervonta Davis, Cecil McCalla, Jessie Nicklow, and Immanuwel Aleem.  

The other locals making at least one national TV appearance were Russell, Jr., Hurd, Wade, Ballard, Dusty Hernandez Harrison, Alantez Fox, Cornelius Whitlock, James Stevenson, Joshua Snyder, Emanuel Taylor, Nick Kisner, Alexander Johnson, Ayi Bruce, Tony Thompson, Fernando Guerrero and Thomas Williams.

Internationally, Beltway Boxers appeared on world wide channels -- Tony Jeter’s bout against Chris Eubank, Jr. was shown on Sky Sports, Gerome Quigley’s IBA Junior Middleweight title bout appeared on Euro TV.  Thompson’s win over Odlandier Solis was shown on 360Sports TV.

Ironically, the accomplishments by our local boxers made it difficult for promoters to put together cards in the Beltway region, as the number of boxers available started to dwindle.  There were just 19 pro cards in 2015 compared to 31 in 2014.  Maryland had just eight shows in 2015, down from 12 in 2014, DC only had seven shows in 2015,dropping from nine the previous year.  Northern Virginia had four cards compared to 10 in 2014.

On the amateur side, along with Antuanne Russell making the Olympic team, Tyrek Irby and Marquis Moore, a Colorado resident who is originally from Fort Washington, MD, also participated in the Men’s Olympic Trials.   On the women’s side, the Beltway sent four to the Olympic Trials, the second qualifier was held in Baltimore, MD.  Tiara Brown and Franchon Crews made their second trip to the trials while it was the first time for Amelia Moore and Iesha Kenney, who at 17 years old, was the youngest participant in the trials.  Kenney had an outstanding year as she won a bronze medal at the Junior and Youth Women’s World Championships in Taiwan.
For the first year since 2009, Beltway Boxers did not win a National Golden Gloves title.  This may be a sign that there may be a delay before the next great amateurs come into the open division. However, if the Beltway’s performance in the National Silver Gloves is any indication, the delay will be a short one.  Six locals -- Lorenzo Simpson, Tyreek Williams, Lawrence Malcolm, Ragahleak Bartee, Stacey Selby and Michael Tymas -- brought home gold medals from Independence, MO.  For Simpson (14-15, 147 pounds), it was his fifth straight national title in his fifth weight class.  Tymas (12-13, 147 pounds) was named the Outstanding Boxer in his age group.

We lost a number of quality Beltway Boxing people in 2015:

Beltway Boxing In Memoriam:

Alvin Anderson -- Former Baltimore-Based Junior Middleweight contender

Steven Copeland -- Virginia Amateur Boxer

Howard Davis, Jr. -- Olympic Gold Medalist on the 1976 US Olympic Team that featured three  local boxers (Sugar Ray Leonard, Charles Mooney and Louis “Heidi” Curtis)

Bob Foster -- Former World Light Heavyweight Champion who called DC his boxing home

Alfred Grant -- Deputy Commissioner, District of Columbia Boxing And Wrestling Commission

David Greer -- Boxing Judge in Maryland and Pennsylvania

“King” Charles Jerome -- DC Heavyweight  Pro Boxer

Johnnie Johnson -- Trainer and Coach at Hagerstown Boxing Club

Cyprian “CP” Khumalo -- Former Boxer and Host of Internet DMV Sports Show

Cedric Kushner -- Promoted Beltway legends Mark Johnson and Hasim Rahman

Thomas Langley -- Beltway Trainer and Coach

Norvus “Butch” Miller -- Trainer and Brother of Purcell Miller

Charlie Tuttle -- Noted Amateur Boxer

Finally, let’s give a more visual example that could help show the progress local boxers have made. In April of 2012, this picture was taken of Gary "Digital" Williams with members of a group of boxers I referred to in the post accompanying this photo as just some of the members of “The Next Wave.”  From left to right: Michael Reed, David Grayton, Jerry Odom, Gary Russell, Jr., Alantez Fox (in back with yours truly), Gary Antonio Russell, D'Mitrius Ballard and Kevin Rivers, Jr. 

Based on their amateur accomplishments (six of the nine boxers shown won National Golden Gloves titles, two were named Outstanding Boxers of the Golden Gloves), they were part of a large group of standouts that would start a new era of Beltway Boxers.  Seven of the nine turned pro in 2012 (after this photo was taken) or later. Gary Russell, Jr. started in 2009 and Alantez Fox in 2010.

The pro won-loss record of just these nine boxers going into 2016 is 115-4-1 with 73 KO’s and you can add one world title.  When you add the records of many of the other prospects talked about in the area, it’s an even better percentage.  The coming year should be very interesting and exciting indeed.

That's our look back at 2015.  Tomorrow, we start the awards with Rookie of the Year!

Written by Gary "Digital Williams
Boxing Along The Beltway
Photos added by Juan Marshall

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