Local boxers highlighted at Golden Gloves qualifier

ALTADENA — A third-round standing eight count on Sunday night had all but guaranteed Terry Washington spot in the California Golden Gloves state tournament.

He won, but Washington, 18, is thinking further ahead than just eight seconds. The San Bernardino amateur boxer has big plans, just like many others at Sunday’s Golden Gloves Southern California qualifier finals at Alta Loma Park.

“I’ll be a world champion someday, that’s a promise,” Washington said. “This is officially my last year of amateurs, so I really want to be a Golden Gloves champion. And today I’m a Golden Gloves district champion.”

Washington is the No. 9-ranked amateur boxer nationally at 112 pounds after moving up from being the No. 1 boxer at 106 pounds, according to the USA Boxing rankings. He’s one of 103 amateurs between the ages of 18 and 40 who competed at the Golden Gloves qualifier, which spanned Thursday through Sunday with one day postponed due to stormy weather conditions.

The tournament featured both a novice division and open division (boxers with more than 10 bouts). Winners of their respective brackets move on to compete at the California Golden Gloves, which are slated for April 1-2 in Concord.

Daniel Mercado, who trains out of G2G Boxing Club in Pomona, punched his ticket to the state tournament in his first fight since summer. The 18-year-old recovered from a shoulder injury just in time for a two-month training camp in preparation for Golden Gloves.

Mercado previously was part of the 147-pound weight class, in which he was ranked No. 5 in the country. He’s moved up to 156 pounds, but is still hoping that winning the Golden Gloves state tournament puts him one step closer to the Olympics.

“That’s my goal and my only goal,” Mercado said. “And after that, straight to the pros.”

The additional 12 pounds didn’t make too much of a difference for Mercado, who was in the eighth bout of the night. His opponent slugged and clinched, forcing Mercado to rely on the experience he gained from sparring heavier boxers.

“When a fighter comes in and tangles up, I just have to step back and use my distance a little more,” Mercado said. “It’s not going to be the last guy I run into like this. I’m going to run into a lot more fighters like this.”

There were 23 bouts on Sunday, and roughly 20 on Thursday and Saturday as well. The three-round matches allowed for plenty of action every night in the 100th anniversary of the Golden Gloves.

Like the boxers, California Golden Gloves delegate and tournament organizer Fausto De La Torre has boxing goals. He’d like to see the Southern California tournament have even greater participation and be at bigger venues.

His goal is to someday use the Rose Bowl as a host site, but would love to see it reach the heights of Arena or SoFi Stadium. For comparison, New York’s Golden Gloves qualifier, the Ring Masters Championships, is held at Madison Square Garden.

“Take it to an iconic location. That’s what I want to do,” De La Torre, who competed in Golden Gloves as an amateur boxer, said. “I want to take Golden Gloves to the most beautiful and the best iconic arenas that California has to offer. I would love to just help the tournament grow.”

This year, the Loma Alta Park gymnasium was packed out on every night of the tournament. Extra chairs had to be brought in during Sunday night’s finals to accommodate for the growing crowd.

De La Torre also coaches boxing at Villa Park Boxing and loves it because of its character-building and the sense of self-accomplishment it gives. Golden Gloves gives athletes not just the chance to pursue their dreams, but also a platform for the aspects that De La Torre has a fondness for.

“I’m trying to be a positive role model for the kids, the youth, the adults,” Washington said. “Whenever anybody says anything about San Bernardino, it’s not always good. I’m trying to be that good thing.”

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