By Jay Mwamba
Alo Kelly shook off ring rust and jetlag, two days after flying in from Dublin, to outpoint Police Athletic League boxer Daniel Malave on the opening night of the New York Golden Gloves light heavyweight competition in Brooklyn last Friday.
Kelly, the losing finalist in 1998, was joined in the second round by Irish intermediate champion Martin Mallon, who made a successful debut in America’s biggest amateur boxing tournament with a points decision over
veteran Alander Duque.
The Camlough-born Mallon, his lightweight brother Sean, who fights on Feb. 16 in Yonkers, and Kelly are representing the Irish Ropes Boxing Club of Maspeth, Queens.
"Grand!" was the 21-year-old Kelly’s reaction to his victory at St. Thomas Aquinas High School. "Everything went alright. I’m looking forward to going back to the finals."
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The first order of business though for Kelly, whose dream of making the Irish Olympic team was dashed in the quarterfinals of the National Championships in Dublin, is to get back in top shape.
His lack of sparring since the Nationals four weeks ago showed in the first two stanzas of the four-rounder against Malave.
"Alo was very rusty at the start," Irish Ropes trainer Eddie McLoughlin said. "His timing was off, he was flat-footed and he was lunging a bit."
Kelly was, however, able to beat the defensive Malave by rallying in the final round, in which he connected with several good combinations.
"It wasn’t a stellar performance, but we couldn’t have asked for a better result against a game opponent," McLoughlin said.
Kelly said he’d use the two-and-a-half-week period before his next fight to whip himself back into form for what could be his final hurrah in the amateur ranks.
And Mallon stayed on course for a likely meeting with Kelly in the 178-pound competition with a convincing win over Duque.
"It wasn’t so bad — sort of what I expected," the 19-year-old said after improving to 17-4.
After overcoming a bout of nerves, Mallon used stiff double jabs to set up his offense of right hands and left hooks to the body that won him the fight.
"He was a classy boxer. He had more of the European style than American," Mallon noted.
Conor Higgins, who’s training the Mallon brothers, was ecstatic over his young charge’s performance.
"He done very well," Higgins said. "First and second rounds he was a little bit tight. Then he relaxed and gained confidence."
The young trainer said they’d be going back to the gym to continue training for what he hopes will be a double gold strike.
"Sean (Mallon) will be fighting on the 16th in Yonkers, and we’ll be looking for more success," Higgins said.