Today, we begin our look back at Beltway Boxing 2012! On Sunday, we will begin our Year-End Awards giving you one each day. For those unfamiliar, we give out awards for the following 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
But we always start with an overview of the year and with a theme, thus the title "The Year of Great Possibility and Missed Opportunity."
Beltway Boxing 2012 gave fans an opportunity to feel great about the future of the sport in DC, Maryland and Virginia but made fans unsure about its present. The year saw 21 boxers make pro debuts as well as a tremendous year for the area’s amateur program. However, many pros had opportunities to take their careers to higher levels but lost quality bouts along the way.
If BATB chose an amateur boxer of the year, it would definitely be Temple Hills, MD’s D’Mitrius Ballard for his trifecta. Ballard won the 178-pound open titles at the National Golden Gloves, Ringside World Championships and the National PAL championships.
The Beltway had a very impressive amateur season with locals winning a number of championships. The highlight of 2012 was the local showing at the National Golden Gloves in Mesquite, NV. The DC/MD Team dominated the proceedings as Jerry Odom and Gervonta Davis joined Ballard as national champions. Odom was awarded the “Golden Boy” Trophy as the Outstanding Boxer of the tourney and the DC/MD Team captured the team trophy. Local boxers have won six national titles at the Golden Gloves in the past three years.
Even administrators for the DC/MD team earned honors as Brent Bovell was named the Outstanding Referee and Curtis Rawlings was chosen as the Outstanding Clerk.
Four other locals along with Ballard won titles at the Ringside World Championships in Kansas City, MO; Lamont Tate (Boys Novice, 9-10, 80 pounds), Kavon Robertson (Boys Open, 11-12, 75 pounds), Jordan White (Boys Open 13-14, 90 pounds), and Lamont Roach, Jr. (Boys Open, 15-16, Blue, 132 pounds).
At the National PAL Tournament in Toledo, OH, Ballard won his fourth straight title. DC transplant Tiara Brown, a native of Lehigh Acres, FL who trains at the HeadBangers Gym, won the female 125-pound Open title and six Beltway amateurs captured junior titles: Malik Hawkins (154 pounds), Jason Bell (165 pounds), Lorenzo Simpson (11-12, 110 pounds), Troy Isley (13-14, 110 pounds) Kavon Robertson (11-12, 75 pounds) and Calvin Countess (201+ pounds).
Countess, the native of Abingdon, MD, also had a solid 2012 as he captured the 201+ pounds title at the Junior Olympic National Championships in Mobile, AL.
Also, Baltimore’s Franchon Crews won the USA National Championships at 178 pounds and then captured a silver medal at the Women’s World Championships in Qinhuangdao, China. Crews also captured the gold at the Women’s Continental Championships in Cornwall, Canada.
A host of locals participated in the Men’s and (for the first time ever) Women’s Olympic Boxing Trials and while no local made either Olympic team, history was made as Antoine and Tyrieshia Douglas became the first sibling duo to participate at the Olympic Boxing trials.
On the pro side, the year began with the area basking in the glow of Lamont Peterson’s world championship win over Amir Khan last December. The glow, however, faded through the first few months of the year as allegations of a mystery man at the title bout in DC gave way to Peterson testing positive for synthetic testosterone, which forced the cancellation of the Peterson-Khan rematch. The WBA stripped Peterson of their title but the IBF allowed Peterson to keep their belt. Peterson was inactive in 2012 as negotiations for a defense against Zab Judah fell through and one against Kendall Holt were ongoing.
A few pro Beltway Boxers had solid years. Middleweight Tony “Mo Better” Jeter bounced back from a tough end of 2011 to win two regional titles, the most-talked about contest of the year and get ranked among the top middleweights in the world. Featherweight “Mr.” Gary Russell, Jr. maintained his status as one of the best feathers in the world with some solid knockout work. Former WBO Junior Welterweight champ DeMarcus “Chop Chop’ Corley remained extremely relevant scoring two big upsets and winning a NABF title. Prospects Venroy July and Dusty Harrison were among those who maintained solid, undefeated status.
However, a number of locals had opportunities to put themselves closer to championship competition but did not step up to the plate. Heavyweights Seth Mitchell, Maurice Byarm, Tony Thompson and former world champ Hasim Rahman lost important, nationally-televised bouts as did junior welterweights Tim Coleman and Ty Barnett and super middleweight Scott Sigmon.
The future looks very bright for the Beltway region as 21 boxers made pro debuts. Locally, the region was very active, hosting 20 cards in 2012. DC had nine pro cards, the most held in the Nation’s Capitol since 2003. One of the DC cards -- the August 4 card at the Renaissance Hotel -- was historic in that an entirely-female referee crew (Michelle Myers and Sharon Sands) worked the entire card. Northern Virginia hosted seven, two more than 2011. Maryland, however, fell to just four cards in 2012.
This year was also a tough year for not only Beltway Boxing Fans but all fans of the sweet science. A number of notable names connected to our region and to the entire sport left us in 2012. We say farewell to:
Abodunrin “Bo” Akinyanju, local heavyweight
Louise Barrett Artisst, wife of noted boxing judge and former DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission chair Paul Artisst
Damy Banks, son of local ringside physician Dr. Gregory Banks
Carmen Basilio, legendary hall of fame boxer
Chuck Brown – Godfather of Go-Go and long-time boxing fan
Kimberly Browner, daughter of trainer/manager Tom Browner
Hector “Macho” Camacho, Sr., world champion boxer
Michael Dokes, former heavyweight champion
Angelo Dundee, trainer of Muhammad Ali and two Beltway Boxers – Sugar Ray Leonard and Jimmy Lange
Reola Hunter, mother of local trainer Barry Hunter
Don Eric Marshall, brother of ProAm Fight Talk’s Juan Marshall
Goody Petronelli, trainer of Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Corrie Sanders, former WBO heavyweight champ from South Africa
Al Scott, noted Beltway trainer
Emanuel Steward, legendary trainer of Thomas Hearns and others
Bert Randolph Sugar, legendary author, boxing expert and native Washingtonian
Johnny Tapia, former super flyweight champion
Angelo “Seek and Destroy” Ward, local super featherweight
Sarah White, mother of promoter Cassandra White
That concludes the overview of Beltway Boxing 2012. On Sunday, the choice for Beltway Boxing Rookie of the Year!