More than 300 people packed the gymnasium of the Lee Community Center for a weekend of amateur boxing in late April.
The 2023 Southeast Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions brought some of the brightest boxing talent from around the Southeast under one roof on April 22-23. On the line was an opportunity to advance to the 2023 National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions in Philadelphia and a possible invitation to the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in December.
The tournament was hosted by Dave Godber, Southeast Golden Gloves franchise delegate and owner of Round 1 Boxing & Fitness in Hoover. It featured a cadre of elite fighters competing out of his gym as well as top amateur boxers from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina.
“Alabama has a chance to put five boxers in the National Golden Gloves if we beat the other states,” Godber said. “If you make it to the National Golden Gloves, then you’re something.”
On Saturday, April 22, four out of five fighters drew a bye, leaving 125-pounder Ke’Nario Davidson as the sole Alabamian and Round 1 boxer competing in the first day of action. Davidson struggled somewhat with his opponent, Joven Tiller, who held Davidson throughout all three rounds. However, Davidson prevailed, landing punches when he had the opportunity to advance to the championships on Sunday.
In the championship bout, Davidson faced Tennessean T.J. Arnold in the first fight of the day. For close to a minute after the opening bell, Davidson and Arnold sized each other up, with Davidson patiently waiting to find an opening.
But he was perhaps too patient. Arnold landed a few punches to his body and head. The Alabamian stood his ground during the flurry but allowed his opponent to rack up points in the process.
Toward the end of the first round, Davidson picked up his energy level, throwing a flurry of punches at Arnold, eventually losing his balance into the ropes. After regaining his balance, Davidson backed Arnold into the corner as the boxers traded punches until the bell ended round one.
Davidson opened round two with three left jabs and a left hook landing on Arnold’s ear. As the first minute wore on, the energy level settled back down as the fighters sized each other up until Arnold found a groove, landing more punches on Davidson and backing him into the ropes and, again, knocking him off balance.
Davidson eventually found his second wind and traded body shots with Arnold as the second round rang to a close.
The third round began with Davidson as the aggressor. However, Arnold responded, continuing to throw punches as Davidson waited for an opening for a knockout shot that never came. As the bell rang to end the third and final round, Arnold’s victory was clear.
The next two fights featured boxers from out of state. In the second fight, Christian Andrade of Georgia defeated Sema’J Young of North Carolina in the 132-pound Elite championship. In the third…
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