By Greg Gulas
Eight local fighters are set to compete in this weekend’s 90th Cleveland Golden Gloves boxing tournament, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. at the Brook Park Recreation Center in Brook Park.
Fifteen bouts are slated for Friday, 23 on Saturday at 5 p.m. and 16 matchups set for Sunday’s 2 p.m. finale.
Local boxers are: Nate Cordova and Drew Smith of Burnside Athletic Club; Brian Sims and Isaac Chatman of Downton Boxing Club; Izik Collins and Beau Keller of Salem B.C.; Ashton Owens of South Side B.C.; and Ronnie Hamayel of Dickie Green’s Mean Green B.C.
Dalton Rosta of Downtown Boxing Club, an up-and-coming MMA standout who was slated to take on Charles Smith on Saturday in a 201-pound open division pairing, is a late scratch due to injury.
Two fighters, Sims and Smith, are good friends who have fought once before with Smith earning a close decision last May during Lights Out Management’s amateur card at St. Peter and Paul’s Ukrainian Orthodox Banquet Center in Youngstown.
They will meet for a second time on Friday night in a 152-pound open division pairing.
“We’re really good friends and this is a rematch that we’re both kind of looking forward to,” Smith said. “I’m ready, I’ve been training hard, sparring a lot and feel like I am in the best shape I have ever been in.”
Smith is a veteran of 22 fights and has been training under Keith Burnside for a little more than a year.
“It’s unfortunate that you have to travel 75 miles in order to go up against someone from your area in the first round,” Burnside said. “Drew is a YSU student, in the Army Reserves and will head to boot camp in July. He’s in shape, ready to go and has an eye on possibly turning pro next year.”
Sims feels like he has something to prove after their first match.
“I felt like I got robbed the first time we fought,” Sims said. “In order to win, I will have to dictate the pace of the fight so it’s up to me now to prove that I am the better fighter.”
His trainer, Sammy Calderon, said both fighters have worked hard in order to get to this point.
“Brian needs to establish himself from the opening bell,” Calderon said. “He’s a really hard worker, but the winner of the fight will be the one that outworks the other.”
Also on Friday, Chatman will be the first area boxer to hit the ring when he takes on Khalil Osaze of MLK Premier in a 132-pound open matchup.
Chatman is coming off a loss to Hamayel on March 31. Friday’s other local matchup will pit Burnside A.C.’s Nate Cordova when he goes up against Taeshawn Yancey of Rodriguez B.C. in a 152-pound novice scrap.
“We know that Khalil is an excellent fighter because he was runner-up in his division a year ago,” said Tom Cordell, Chatman’s trainer. “Isaac will need to bring his ‘A’ game, box and not get into a slugging match if he expects to win.
“He’s been in the gym every day since that loss and is determined to have a good showing. He basically needs to fight all three minutes of every round.”
Cordova will take a 4-2 mark into his match with Yancey.
“Nate is a southpaw, very strong and a hard puncher who works tirelessly when he trains,” Burnside said. “He hits hard for a boxer in his weight class and must come forward in order to wear down Yancey.”
On Saturday, Owens will meet Byron Norwood of Strongstyle B.C. in a 178-pound novice match-up while Keller, who is 32 years old, is set to make his ring debut in a 210+ sub-novice scrap with Christopher Johnson.
“I’m learning confidence from my trainers, Jack Loew and Vinnie O’Neill,” Owens stated. “I’ve trained really hard and looking forward now to Saturday’s fight.”
Loew notes that Owens is a well-rounded athlete with plenty of talent.
“Ashton has been a pleasant surprise,” Loew said. “He’s a very good athlete and once he develops confidence in his abilities, then he’s going to be a real force in his weight class.”
Keller has impressed his trainer, Ron Jackson.
“Beau is a family man with three children and absolutely excited about the opportunity he has ahead of him this weekend’s competition. He’s a hard worker who is up for the challenge,” Jackson stated.
On Sunday’s card, Collins will take on Eddie Santiago, also of Strongstyle B.C in a 132-pound novice final while Hamayel meets Armond Richard of Empire B.C. in a 141 pound open final.
This year’s event marks the first that women’s open division winners will join their men’s open division champions at the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions, set for May 14-19 in Omaha, Neb.
Tickets cost $20 for general admission and bleacher seats, $30 for floor seats and $40 for table seats.