By Jay Mwamba
Yonkers-based amateurs Don O’Regan and Stuart Kelso both won Latin Gloves titles at the annual summer tournament for top New York area and Puerto Rican fighters in the Bronx on July 27.
O’Regan, a quarterfinalist in the prestigious New York Daily News Golden Gloves earlier this year, decisioned Puerto Rico’s Juan Troncoso to lift the 165-pound novice class title, while Kelso was equally emphatic in outpointing his Chilean-born opponent for the 160-pound novice crown. Kelso, a 23 year-old from County Tyrone, subjected his foe to a mandatory eight-count in the third and final round of their contest.
The double victories atoned for the two friends’ losses in the Daily News Golden Gloves, whose 2003 tournament both O’Regan and Kelso are working towards.
“It felt good to win and I’m excited over the victory, but it’s a long way to go until the next Golden Gloves,” remarked O’Regan.
It is the first boxing title for the late bloomer from Limerick – he’s 26 – who only took to pugilism after a serious knee injury ended his soccer career.
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O’Regan is now 4-1 in competitive matches, with the sole defeat coming against big punching Adam Willet in the Golden Gloves last March. The 19 year-old Willet went on to win the Gloves light heavyweight final, which in a way vindicated O’Regan’s effort.
“It was good to see that he cruised through to the final and won. It’s good to say that you were (beaten) by the fellow that won it all,” said O’Regan.
Both O’Regan and Kelso dropped a weight division to compete in the Latin Gloves, a move which O’Regan said left him feeling stronger.
For Kelso, who reached the second round of the Golden Gloves, this was his second consecutive Latin Gloves title.
“I won at 156-pounds in 2001 and it’s sweet to top that off,” he said.
An employee of City Scaffolding, Kelso dedicated his latest win to his girlfriend Jenny.
Following the sudden closure of the Boxing Connection gym in Yonkers, under whose name they fought in the Golden Gloves, O’Regan and Kelso joined the Morris Park club in the Bronx and feel that they’ve become better boxers as a result.
“There are a lot of good fighters there and we get to spar with professionals as well, instead of each other,” said O’Regan.
Their trainer, Wendell Williams, speaks highly of the two Irish transplants.
“I’ve had them for a couple of months and they’re making good progress, and they want to fight,” said Williams. “They listen and I like working with them.”