Youngstown’s Colon heading to Silver Gloves boxing tournament


14-year-old boxer working hard to mine Silver

By Greg Gulas

sports@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The only person surprised that Brayan Colon is advancing to the upcoming National Silver Gloves Boxing Tournament is Colon himself.

The 14 year-old, who is boxing out of Jack Loew’s South Side Boxing Club, scored a three-round split decision over Darius Howell of Indiana at the Philadelphia regionals on Jan. 13. He now awaits his opponent at nationals, which start Feb. 1-3 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Independence, Mo.

It’s a very special time for Colon as he looks to join Loew prot g Alejandro “Popo” Salinas as Youngtown’s first Silver Gloves national champion since 2008, also hoping to join Youngstown native James McClendon who vaulted to the top of his weight class when he won his title some 24 years prior.

“Boxing is my passion and my idol is Miguel Cotto, so I really want to do well at nationals,” Colon said. “Because I lack experience, it surprised me that I qualified. Plus, I was really nervous at regionals. I believe in myself, so do Jack and Vinny [O’Neill] and while they are nice to me, they’re also quite tough on me. I have to learn and you don’t do that by taking days off. I wouldn’t be in the national tournament if they weren’t tough on me when I train. They care.”

A student at Williamson Elementary School, Colon is currently 4-2 overall and was a walk-through — there was no opponent in his 145 pound weight class – at the tournament’s opening round in Cincinnati the first weekend in January.

O’Neill, who has been with Loew for the past 20 years and oversees his amateur program, said the minute you meet Colon you realize he has a very bright future.

“Brayan is heavy-handed and powerful. All you have to do is shake his hand just one time and you realize he’s got it,” O’Neill said. “It’s probably an unfair comparison, but he has hands like Mike Tyson. He trains hard, listens and is always looking to get better once he steps into the ring.”

A total of 39 teams from across the country will vie for national titles while Colon’s opponent will not be determined until he arrives and checks in.

“Brayan is in the Junior Olympic division and it doesn’t matter who his opponent is because he will be a man among boys with his ability and strength,” Loew said. “Of the four fighters that we took to regionals, Brayan had the least experience. We first saw him when he was 13 years old, knew that he could fight and develop into someone special. He hits hard, lands his punches and we’re just hoping that he continues that progression.”

O’Neill said that the next two weeks will be critical as he prepares for the next stop in his brief career.

“We’ll train six days a week and there will be lot of sparring. We’ll bring in some out of town boxers to spar with Brayan and he’ll do a lot running,” O’Neill said. “We’ll pick up the conditioning in order to work on his wind and endurance, doing sprints for short bursts of energy.

“Brayan is explosive, but has to learn to pick up on his opponents’ rhythm. He just has to learn how to deal with a fighter’s bounce and rhythm.”

Loew said Colon must believe in himself.

“He goes well to the body with his left and then back up to the head with his right, a trademark of Hispanic fighters like [Miguel] Cotto and Felix Trinidad,” Loew said. “At his age, he’s comparable to both of those fighters at that stage in their careers. He also has a lot of support from the Youngstown School System, which was evidenced after his last fight.

“I’ve received calls from his teachers telling me to keep him interested in fighting and off the streets,” Loew sadi. “What Brayan has to understand is that he has the potential to be a really good one, but needs to believe in us because we wouldn’t be investing the time, energy and effort if we didn’t believe he could be someone special.”

Those looking to assist Colon with his travel expenses can call Loew at 330-501-5713.

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