|New England's O'Connor focuses on Gloves title
by Steve Vedder | The Grand Rapids Press
Friday May 09, 2008, 2:30 AM
New England's Daniel O'Connor throws a punch at Knoxville's Charles Watson during their
National Golden Gloves light welterweight quarterfinal bout Thursday at DeVos Place.
GRAND RAPIDS -- At the moment, Daniel O'Connor's face may be more well-known for
finding its way into a national magazine than his boxing exploits. But in two days that could
radically change. The 22-year-old light welterweight from Framingham, Mass., said he's
been stopped countless times this week during the National Golden Gloves Tournament of
Champions at DeVos Place by fans who've seen him in Sports Illustrated's popular "Faces
in the Crowd." It's the recent May 5 issue with the Chicago Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome on the
cover. O'Connor, who made tonight's semifinals with Thursday's decision over Charles
Watson of Knoxville, said while that attention is flattering, he'd rather be known for what he
can accomplish with two more wins: securing a national title after two near-misses. "People
have told me they open Sports Illustrated and say, 'Hey, you're in there,'" he said. "To be
noticed for anything is good and I'm thankful for my position. But I want to leave this
tournament as a Golden Gloves national champion. That's all I want." A title would further
an already impressive resume for O'Connor, who lost in the national semifinals two years
ago and the quarterfinals last year. O'Connor was named the most outstanding wrestler in
winning the U.S. Championships in March where he won five bouts in six days by a
combined 64-22 score. He's also an alternate on the U.S. Olympic team and probably will
be ranked second nationally in the next USA Boxing rankings behind Olympian and training
partner Javier Molina. He's part of an impressive New England club that has four boxers in
the semifinals. O'Connor said the experience of the past two Golden Gloves nationals won't
necessarily be an advantage over tonight's opponent, Jeff Strum of Kansas/Oklahoma, who
defeated Michigan's Johnny Garcia on Thursday. "My confidence comes from my work ethic
and training," he said. "I feel real good, like I'm getting stronger and stronger. My confidence
is high, but I have to prepare well. "You can't take anyone lightly -- you have to be ready.
But I have confidence in myself, I have a plan and I'm going to stick to it." In a highly
anticipated quarterfinal, Tor Hamer of Geneva, N.Y., avenged the only loss of his career by
decisioning Lenroy Thompson of St. Pierce, Fla., in a super heavyweight quarterfinal.
Thompson beat Hamer on a tiebreaker in a U.S. Championship final in March. Hamer said
the difference between that loss and Thursday's win that sends into the semifinals is simple.
"I was pretty aggressive this time from the beginning. The one I lost I was not," he said.
"He's a great opponent. He's very intelligent and he moves well. He can generate power
from awkward angles. I wanted to make him come forward and fight."