Golden Gloves championship preview


Familiar faces and hungry newcomers will go head-to-head Friday in the 2017 Golden Gloves tournament’s opening night of championship bouts.

Nisa Rodriguez, a Gloves staple with an eighth title on the line, takes on Nicole Malpeso, who scrapped her way to the championship of her first ever amateur tournament. Malpeso, an EMT for the New York Fire Department and a Staten Island product, doesn’t have Rodriguez’s wealth of experience, but she has already dispatched some talented boxers to get this far. An eighth title for Rodriguez would put the 26-year-old just two shy of Christina Cruz’s record.

Another reigning champion, Krystal Dixon, looks to defend her title against familiar foe Leah Cooper. They’ve fought each other twice already and spar often, but there will be no love lost in the ring as Dixon battles for her fifth gloves title.

Gvantsa Pantsulaia.

Gvantsa Pantsulaia.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

On the men’s side, Justin Biggs, the last sibling standing of the Biggs clan after his younger brother and sister were both defeated, will face off with Nikita Ababiy. Biggs has seven years on Ababiy but they are equally experienced fighters, as Ababiy is a member of USA boxing’s traveling team. In his first appearance on the Gloves stage, Ababiy has stormed onto the scene, defeating two-time champion Ismael Villareal in the semifinals. Biggs is looking to avenge his 2016 loss to Brian Ceballo in the championship.

Other must-see bouts between defending champ Bruce Carrington and Iman Lee and redemption-seeking Kalief Lindo pitted against Michael Ayeboafo round out what is poised to be an electric night of finals action.

Justin Biggs.

Justin Biggs.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 1: 201-POUND NOVICE

Osaze Matthews, 22.
Eastern Queens BC. Has been impressive in his run to the finals.
RECORD: 1 Dec., 1 RSC, 1 Bye.

Charles Fayet, 35.
Mendez BC. Enjoys a rugged toe to toe bout.
RECORD: 2 Byes, 1 ABD.

Nikita Ababiy fights in the 165-pound open.

Nikita Ababiy fights in the 165-pound open.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 2: 132-POUND FEMALE

Jillian Bliss, 28.
Mendez BC. Getting Masters Degree in Animal Behavior & Conservation.
RECORD: 1 Dec., 1 RSC

Gvantsa Pantsulaia, 23.
Gleason’s Gym. Science teacher, from Brooklyn, been boxing for 2 years.
RECORD: 1 Dec., 1 Bye.

Sabrina Slattery.

Sabrina Slattery.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 3: 178-POUND NOVICE

Alexander Lara, 23.
Worldwide BC. This Dominican product displays a bruising body attack.
RECORD: 3 Decisions.

Tashon Hopkins, 29.
Aerospace Boxing. Got into boxing after watching Muhammad Ali film.
RECORD: 3 Decisions.

Jason Ralph.

Jason Ralph.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 4: 165-POUND OPEN

Justin Biggs, 25.
Atlas Cops N Kids. 2016 152-lb runner-up. Powerful lefty, good footwork, keen eyes.
RECORD: 3 Decisions.

Nikita Ababiy 18.
Atlas Cops N Kids.Student at Kings College, member of USA Traveling Team
RECORD: 2 Dec., 1 Bye.

Kalief Lindo.

Kalief Lindo.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 5: 106-POUND FEMALE

Sabrina Slattery, 23.
Sweatbox BC.Brooklyn product has been boxing for only 5 months.
RECORD: 1 Bye.

Juliette Ladis, 20.
Unattached. Won Junior Olympics, National PAL, National youth Golden Gloves.
RECORD: 1 ABD.

Nisa Rodriguez.

Nisa Rodriguez.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 6: 152-POUND MALE

Kalief Lindo, 22.
Church Street BC. Queens personal trainer. Lost in the 2016 semifinals.
RECORD: 4 Dec., 1 Bye.

Michael Ayeboafo, 17.
Atlas Cops N Kids. Plans on pursuing Law at Dickinson College in the fall.
RECORD: 4 Dec., 1 Bye.

Gerardo Vasquez.

Gerardo Vasquez.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 7: 123-POUND NOVICE

Jason Ralph, 17.
Worldwide BC. A student at Sacred Heart High has been the teacher this tourney.
RECORD: 2 Dec., 1 RSC, 1 Bye.

Justice Bland, 19.
PacPlex BC. This Brooklynite has ben impressive in 1st amatuer tourney.
RECORD: 3 Dec., 1 Bye.

Michael Hughes.

Michael Hughes.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 8: 152-POUND FEMALE

Nicole Malpeso, 24.
Rustam BC. An EMT in her first amateur tournament. Is as tough as they come.
RECORD: 1 Decision.

Nisa Rodriguez, 26.
Atlas Cops & kids. Defending champion and going for her 8th Gloves title.
RECORD: 1 Bye.

Leah Cooper.

Leah Cooper.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 9: 114-POUND NOVICE

Matthew Sanchez, 17.
Worldwide BC.A junior at Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship high.
RECORD: 2 Decisions.

Gerardo Vasquez, 18.
Rustam BC.Born in Puebla Mexico, sophomore at New Dorp High School.
RECORD: 2 Decisions.

Bruce Carrington.

Bruce Carrington.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 10: 132-POUND OPEN

Iman Lee, 17.
Yonkers PAL.A junior at Roosevelt High; is ready for the upset.
RECORD: 2 Dec., 1 Bye.

Bruce Carrington, 19.
Atlas Cops & Kids. Defending champ, competed at the 2016 Olympic Trials.
RECORD: 2 Dec., 1 Bye.

Nicole Malpeso.

Nicole Malpeso.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 11: 152-POUND OPEN

Michael Calvin, 26.
Royals BC. Own Royals Boxing Gym. Superb athlete, knows way around ring.
ECORD: 3 Decisions.

Michael Hughes,27.
Church St. BC. Third Gloves final. 2012 champ & 2015 Runner-up.
RECORD: 3 Decisions.

Krystal Dixon.

Krystal Dixon.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

BOUT 12: 165-POUND FEMALE

Leah Cooper, 21.

Goldfolks BC.Third ranked in the country; as confident as they come.
RECORD: 2 Decisions.

Nikosi Solomon.

Nikosi Solomon.

(Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield)

Krystal Dixon, 28.
Champs BC. Won 4 Gloves titles at 176+ and 2 at 176 along with 2 National titles.
RECORD: 2 Decisions.

BOUT 13: 114-POUND OPEN

Andy Dominguez, 19.
Mendez. 2016 Runner-up has a small in frame but has the heart of a lion.
RECORD: First bout.

Giovanni Figuero, 20.
Unattached. 2014 108-lb novice champ, currently attending BMCC.
RECORD: First bout.

BOUT 14: 201-POUND+ OPEN

Michael Polite-Coffie 30.
Bloodline MMA. This Marine has served multiple tours in the Middle East.
RECORD: 1 Dec., 1 RSC.

Nkosi Solomon, 22.
Atlas Cops & Kids. Defending champion is on the USA National Team.
RECORD:1 Dec., 1 Bye

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