Michael Ayeboafo dreamed this dream all his life. On Friday night, he turned that Golden Gloves dream into reality.
Ayeboafo (Atlas Cops N Kids) defeated Kalief Lindo (Church Street BC) for the 152-pound novice title in the most competitive division on the first night of the finals of the 90th annual Daily News Golden Gloves tournament.
“All these years I’ve been boxing and all I could think about were these Golden Gloves,” said Ayeboafo, one of 14 champions crowned in front of a full house at The Manhattan Center that included boxing luminaries such as Evander Holyfield, Teddy Atlas, Mauricio Suilaman and Mark Breland.
Ayeboafo established his jab early, landing it with precision to Lindo’s head and body in winning the first round. In the second, Lindo, having to fight back on the scorecards, came out aggressive, pressing Ayeboafo, but the young student stayed calm and steady with his jab and a couple of hooks that snapped Lindo’s head.
In the final round, Ayeboafo closed the show landing the better shots as the pair mixed it up in the center of the ring to the final bell.
“His reach was a big challenge for me,” Ayeboafo said, “but I knew he liked to keep his left hand down, so I timed him coming in.”
Along with the Golden Gloves, Ayeboafo won the Mark Breland Award as the tournament’s best novice boxer.
College, says Ayeboafo: “I’ll be a boxing lawyer.”
In another highly anticipated bout, Justin Biggs (Atlas Cops N Kids) defeated Nikita Ababiy (Atlas Cops N Kids) for the 165-pound open title. These two stablemates were familiar with each other, and it showed in the first round with both showing a lot of patience in waiting to counter. In the second round, the two matched hooks for hooks that brought the crowd to its feet.
In the third round, Ababiy caught a straight left that sent him to the canvas. Ababiy, knowing that a knockdown could be the difference, unloaded on Biggs, landing his best shots. But in the judges’ eyes, Biggs won 4-1.
“Any given day Nikita could have beat me,” Biggs said. “He’s pushed me in the gym and he pushed me to the limit tonight.”
In defending his 132-pound open title, Bruce Carrington (Atlas Cops N Kids) unanimously defeated Iman Lee (Yonkers PAL) for his second pair of Golden Gloves. Lee fought competitively but the determined Carrington wasn’t to be denied landing clean, hard shots, beating Lee to every punch. Carrington also won the Sugar Ray Robinson Award as the tournament’s top Open boxer.
For the women, four champions were crowned.
In the 132-pound bout, Jillian Bliss (Mendez BC) defeated Gvansta Pantsulaia (Gleason’s Gym) 4-1; Juliette La Disa (Unattached) unanimously defeated Sabrina Slattery (Sweat Box BC) for the 106-pound title; and Nisa Rodriguez (Atlas Cops N Kids) stopped Nicole Malpeso (Rustam’s BC) at 1:26 in the third for her eighth pair of Golden Gloves.
In one of the most entertaining bouts of the tournament, Krystal Dixon (Champs BC) defeated Leah Cooper (Goldfolks BC) 3-2 for the 165-pound female title.
This battle went back and forth from start to finish showing the crowd a performance to remember. Twelve more champs will be crowned today at 2 p.m. at the Aviation Sports Center in Brooklyn.