There is a secret in the world of sports that fans need to wake up to. It’s a gem in a field of tarnished stones. It is college boxing.
Most fans have no clue that college boxing teams and competitions take place, but there are nearly 50 schools across the country that have boxing teams, with nearly all of them on a club sport level, and more than 20 of them came to Maryland this weekend for the nationals championships.
I’ve covered nearly 100 championship fights across the country, including the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins, and I have to say — I am hooked on college boxing. It was far more exciting and fun than I expected. It’s not the typical amateur fighting, with pitter-patter punching and point scoring. And it’s not brawling, either. But it is somewhere in between, and it is entertaining.
I attended the finals at Ritchie Coliseum with legendary boxing writer Bert Sugar, who boxed on the 1955 Maryland team. We watched real battles, such as Air Force’s Jesse Horton’s win over Andrew Mangliemont of Army in the 119-pound division. “There were more punches thrown in that fight than in the entire heavyweight division last year,” Sugar said.
Army won the team national championship, followed by Navy, with a second place finish, and Air Force finishing third. Michael Steadman put on the fight of the night at 175 pounds for the Naval Academy, defeating Sam Greenwood of The Citadel in the best three rounds of action I’ve seen in a ring in years. Luke Runion, the boxing coach at the University of Maryland, was the tournament coordinator and did a great job.
Hopefully, the nationals, which had been held in Reno for the last several years, will return to Maryland next year. But if you are a sports fan — not just a fight fan, but a sports fan — I’d recommend you try to take in the invitational meets either at Maryland or the Naval Academy next season.
I will be on The Sports Reporters on Tuesday, April 7, from 5 to 7 p.m.
To learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com