J'Leon Love's recovery includes Golden Gloves win
by The Grand Rapds Press
Wednesday May 07, 2008, 1:10 AM
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Odds & ends from Tuesday night at DeVos Place for the National Golden Gloves
Tournament of Champions:
Less than five months ago, J'Leon Love, 20, of Dearborn Heights, was in a hospital, told he
had suffered a broken C-3 vertebra in his neck. Doctors told him he could not train for at
least six months, and could not box for 18 months. Tuesday, the light heavyweight pulled a
minor upset with a 5-0 decision over Thomas Williams of Washington, a U.S.
Championships quarterfinalist. Love was riding back from a victory in the Michigan USA
Boxing qualifier, in the back seat, not wearing a seat belt, with a coach driving. They had
reached Detroit after the long trip from Traverse City when the accident occurred, and Love
was propelled through the windshield. He got a second opinion a couple months later and
was cleared to box, one week before Detroit Golden Gloves. The only twist is Love was a
middleweight before the accident, and couldn't get back down in time. "I feel good instead of
busting all that weight," he said.
Some members of the Michigan Golden Gloves team are having a hard time staying in their
trunks. Middleweight Ben Williams on Monday, then welterweight Jose Bernal and super
heavyweight Ryan O'Neal on Tuesday, all split the seams of their trunks during their fights
Monday and Tuesday. "I've never had a problem like this before," said Michigan Golden
Gloves executive director Dave Packer, who is in charge of ordering his team's uniforms
each year. "Something with the uniforms is defective. We've had to take them to the
seamstress already. The quality just isn't that good this year. Ringside (the manufacturer)
will stand by their stuff, but it's too late with these because they are custom fit." There is a
plan B in place, as Packer has another set of uniforms if the problem continues.
The floor seating configuration in place through Thursday, with just shy of 1,800 seats for
the first four nights of competition, almost will be doubled for Friday's semifinals and
Saturday's finals. The boxers' area, behind a partition on the north side of the venue, will be
relocated, and the partition removed, with additional floor and bleacher seating expanding
capacity to nearly 3,400. The expansion will coincide with the reduction from three rings to
one for the semifinals and finals.
Jim Beasley, executive director of Golden Gloves Association of America, said the first two
nights of the tournament met all expectations for his organization, with attendance of 1,299
Monday, and about the same Tuesday, though numbers for the second night were not
available. "This community has been prepared for it," Beasley said. "And what I'm seeing,
what I'm hearing, and what I'm realizing, is this is a pretty fight-intelligent town, or fan base.
They know what they're seeing."
• Javontae Starks, the U.S. Championships middleweight champion, representing Upper
Midwest Golden Gloves, was surprised on a 5-0 decision by Sammy Vasquez of
• Siju Shabazz, the only defending National Golden Gloves champion entered here, lost his
first-round bout light heavyweight bout on a 5-0 decision to Azea Augustama, one of the
three brothers on the Florida team.
Floyd Mayweather Sr., who started one of the great boxing dynasties when he was an
amateur boxer in Grand Rapids -- and 1973 National Golden Gloves runner-up as a light
welterweight -- said he plans to attend Friday's semifinals and Saturday's finals, after initially
planning to be here the entire week. Mayweather trained Oscar De La Hoya to a 12-round
unanimous decision victory over Steve Forbes last Saturday in Los Angeles. He said he
was unaware De La Hoya had hurt his left hand -- which explained the absence of a left jab
during the middle rounds -- until the fight ended. He also praised his brother, Jeff, who
trained Forbes, for a solid game plan.
• In attendance: Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, who beat Don Fullmer and Olympic champion
Sugar Ray Seales, among others, during one of the greatest middleweight eras ever. His
losses included fights with Marvin Hagler, Bobby "Boogaloo" Watts, Willie "The Worm"
Monroe, Vito Antuofermo, Bennie Briscoe, and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
• Olympic coach Danny Campbell, and 2008 U.S. Olympic flyweight Rau'shee Warren of
Cincinnati, are expected to attend Saturday's finals. Warren was a two-time National Golden
Gloves champion.
2 -- Number of bouts remaining in ring one when a support board broke during a super
heavyweight bout, forcing the remaining fights to shift to different rings.
80 -- Second-round bouts scheduled tonight.
265 -- Final number of official entrants, out of a maximum possible 330.