By Jay Mwamba
Alo Kelly’s New York Golden Gloves run ended in the semifinals last Friday when he dropped a tough four-round points decision to 178-pound Open defending champion Carlos Sanchez at St. Patrick’s in Brooklyn.
Kelly, who’s 21, saw his dreams of returning to the final in the prestigious amateur boxing tournament unravel after taking a hellacious overhand left early in the third round.
The shot so stunned the County Westmeath import — the losing finalist in 1998 — that he later had no recollections of the standing eight-count that the referee gave him.
Kelly never recovered from the blow, and despite holding his own in what degenerated into a body punching contest in the final stanza, couldn’t mount that final rally that would have pulled it out for him.
"Once he got caught by that left, he didn’t get it back. But he gave it his all and came up short. It was a very close fight," Irish Ropes trainer Eddie McLoughlin said, as Kelly was receiving a bronze medallion for the loss.
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"I thought I won the first two rounds and lost the last two," Kelly said. "I knew that I had to win (the last two rounds) well. He’s the champion."
Kelly certainly looked like the better man for the first two rounds as he used his excellent jab, sharp one-twos and a thudding left hook to the body to hold off the cagey Sanchez.
The 20-year-old champion’s most notable punch in the first four minutes of action was a big left hook at the bell to end the opening stanza.
Then came the third round and Sanchez’ wild overhand left that caught Kelly on the ropes. Kelly was rocked, but recovered quickly enough to pound away at Sanchez’s body.
"I thought I was fit, but he was superfit. I hit him with good shots to the body but he kept coming," Kelly said later.
Both fighters were, predictably, the worse for the wear in the fourth and final stanza, during which they did a lot of clinching.
Sanchez, who faces Martin Mallon’s quarterfinal conqueror Ehinomen Ehikhamenor in the final at Madison Square Garden on April 28, complimented Kelly for a hard fight.
"It was very tough, the way I like it," the John Jay College junior said. Sanchez, who lives in the Catskills, is majoring in police science.
Before the fight, Kelly had made up his to turn professional. The loss to Sanchez left him reconsidering his future.
"Had I won, I would have turned professional. But I would like to win the Gloves. I’ll think about it," he said.
The young father’s immediate plans, however, are to rejoin his wife and three kids, aged 4, 2 and 10 months, in Westmeath.
Kelly was the only Irish member of McLoughlin’s Queens-based Irish Ropes BC to reach the semifinals of the New York Daily News-sponsored Golden Gloves this year.
Novice heavyweight James Maguire lost in the first round, while the Mallon brothers from Camlough, light heavyweight Martin and lightweight Sean, both bowed out at the quarterfinal stage.