Sunday, January 10, 2016

Beltway Boxing 2015 Boxer Of The Year!

Article courtesy of Gary "Digital" Williams,
Boxing Along The Beltway

We now come to the big award -- Beltway Boxer Of The Year! 

As we said at the beginning of our Year-End Review, there were many local boxers who had wonderful years, accomplishing much in the advancement of their careers.

However, two boxers truly set the example of how to accomplish in this sport at its highest level.  One man reached the pinnacle of the sport by winning a world title.  The other had an exceptional year that put him at the precipice of winning a championship of his own. There was no way to distinguish between the two as they both deserve to be the Boxer Of The Year.

(Award winner photo created by Ross Molovinsky)
The 2015 Beltway Boxers Of The Year are:
“Mr.” Gary Russell, Jr. (26-1, 15 KO’s), featherweight, WBC Featherweight champion, Capitol Heights, MD 
Antoine “Action” Douglas (19-0-1, 13 KO’s), middleweight, WBA and WBO International Middleweight champion, Burke, VA

Going into 2015, Russell seemed very confident.  In December of 2014, Russell bounced back from losing a majority decision to Vasyl Lomachenko for the WBO Featherweight title with a sterling 10-round unanimous decision to Christopher Martin.  The win kept Russell in the conversation for a world title shot.

That opportunity finally came on March 28th in Las Vegas, NV in front of a nationally-televised audience on Showtime. Russell challenged Jhonny Gonzalez for his WBC Featherweight title.  This time, the 2008 United States Olympian left no doubt as he dominated Gonzalez dropping him once in the third and twice in the fourth.  The bout was stopped at 37 seconds of the fourth round.  The victory not only gained Russell the title but keeps him in the mainstream throughout the sport as well.  A scheduled defense in November fell through because Russell suffered an injury.  However, some great paydays should be forthcoming.

The same could possibly be said for Douglas, who put himself squarely in position to be one of the top contenders in the sport with three exceptional nationally-televised performances.  Two of Douglas’s opponents were undefeated before facing the boxer from Burke, VA, who became a fixture on Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation series.

Douglas began the year on March 13 with a sixth-round TKO over previously undefeated Thomas LaManna in Westbury, NY.  Istvan Szili made his first appearance in a United States ring and ran into the Douglas buzzsaw on July 17 in Bethlehem, PA.  Douglas stopped Szili in three rounds.  Douglas ended the year by winning an impressive fourth-round TKO on November 6 in Las Vegas.

The victories have put Douglas in the top 15 in the rankings of all four major governing bodies, including a number four ranking by the WBO.  Already, there is talk that Douglas will appear on a Showtime Championship Boxing telecast in the first quarter of 2016.

Honorable Mention (In Alphabetical Order):

Alantez “SlyAza” Fox (18-0-1, seven KO’s), middleweight, Forestville, MD

A very busy year for the older half of the Fox Twin Towers duo. Alantez Fox competed five times in 2015, starting with an eight-round majority decision win over Patrick Day on a nationally-televised (Showtime) card on January 10 in Cabazon, CA.  Fox then scored a second-round TKO over Franklin Gonzalez on April 17 in Uncasville, CT.

Fox returned home for his next two bouts, knocking out Guillermo Valdes in the first round on July 18 in Washington DC and winning by fifth-round disqualification over Eric Mitchell on October 17 in Fairfax, VA.  Fox made his final appearance in Biloxi, MS on November 13 as he stopped Todd Manuel in four rounds.  2016 could be a pivotal year for Fox.

Lamont Peterson (34-3-1, 17 KO’s), welterweight, Washington, DC

Peterson had two marquee matchups in 2015 as he became one of the faces of the new Premier Boxing Champions series.  Both of Peterson’s contests were shown on NBC.  The former IBF Super Lightweight champion lost a tough 12-round majority decision to former WBC/WBA champion Danny Garcia on April 11 in Brooklyn, NY.

Then on October 17, Peterson headlined a card a the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, VA and won a 12-round majority decision over previously undefeated 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist (Dominican Republic).  Peterson should be a solid factor in the welterweight division in 2016.

Mike “Yes, Indeed” Reed (17-0, 10 KO’s), super lightweight, Waldorf, MD

The former Beltway Boxing Rookie and Prospect of the Year and Top Rank signee had a solid 2015, competing five times against increasingly tougher competition.  Reed started his year with his first local appearance in almost a year.  Reed scored a second-round TKO over Edgar Soto on March 14 in Washington, DC. Reed returned to the road and stopped Osenohan Vasquez on May 8 in Newark, NJ.

On June 13, Reed made his first trip to the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City and won an eight-round unanimous decision over Luis Joel Gonzalez.  Reed finished his year with back-to-back appearances in Las Vegas.  On September 11, Reed stopped Antonio Canas in the fifth round. Then on November 7, Reed scored a crushing seventh-round TKO over Rondale Hibbert on the Timothy Bradley-Brandon Rios undercard. 

Reed has received a taste of what it is like to compete on major cards (he is slated to return to action on February 27 in Madison Square Garden on the Terrence Crawford-Hank Lundy card).  Time will tell if Reed will start to headline major cards in 2016.

“The Bolivian Queen” Jennifer Salinas (18-3, four KO’s), super featherweight, Manassas, VA

Salinas had a solid year in 2015 with three quality wins.  Salinas won the Universal Boxing Federation Super Featherweight title with a 10-round unanimous decision over Angel Gladney in a rematch on March 20 in Woodlawn, MD.  That bout was followed by an eight-round unanimous decision over Jasmine Clarkson on June 20 in Woodlawn. 

Salinas made the first defense of her UBF title in the Beltway Boxing Bout Of The Year on November 12th in Cockeysville, MD. Salinas won a 10-round unanimous decision over Melissa St. Vil. Salinas has become a multi-media star especially in the Hispanic community over the past year yet she has been able to maintain a high level of consistency in the ring.   It will be interesting to see which side of her career takes the lead in 2016.

Dominic “Lights Out” Wade (18-0, 12 KO’s), middleweight, Largo, MD

Wade only had one bout in 2015 but his performance put him ever closer to a world title shot.  Wade won a 10-round split decision over former world champion Sam Soliman on June 26 in Shelton, WA. 

Wade already was ranked in the top 15 by both the WBA and WBC before the Soliman bout.  However, the victory over Soliman placed him in the rankings of all four major governing bodies, including a number three ranking by the IBF.  There could be some major opportunities for Wade in 2016.

Previous Beltway Boxers of the Year:

2006: Eric Aiken
2007: Darnell Wilson
2008: Lamont Peterson/Joshua Snyder
2009: Fernando Guerrero
2010: Tim Coleman
2011: Lamont Peterson
2012: Tony Jeter
2013: Phil Jackson Benson/Tori Nelson
2014: Tori Nelson

That concludes our look back at 2015.  Thank you for all of your support as we look ahead to what could be a very pivotal 2016!