LOWELL -- At this point in his still evolving amateur career, Manny Antonetty of Lowell doesn't know how to take a step backward in a boxing ring.
When in pursuit of his prey, Antonetty holds firm in the belief that a straight line is the shortest distance to him being able to zero in on his target.
Antonetty lost by a controversial split decision in the New England Golden Gloves 123-pound Novice championship bout last February. The wound from that tough defeat has healed, but the scar remains.
Determined not to let history repeat itself, Antonetty made good on his second shot at a New England crown in a new weight class.
Antonetty pounded his way to a unanimous decision victory over Angel Rosa of West Haven, Conn., in the 114-pound title bout of the New England Golden Gloves Novice Tournament at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Thursday night.
"This is my second year in the finals and it feels so good to win," said Antonetty, 18, a senior at Chelmsford High who improved his amateur record to 6-4. "Last year, I felt I basically got robbed. Winning this year is the best feeling. It's amazing. I wanted to finish the job this time."
Antonetty consistently scored with left hooks to the body and follow up rights to the head. He was at his best in the third round, finishing up strong and winning over the judges.
"He lost a 3-2 split decision last year and we thought he won every round," said Antonetty's trainer Joey Ramalho.
"But I told him, 'You can't change that decision. So go out and win this one.' He went out and did it. I'm so proud of him."
Antonetty has a stinging jab and unleashed some punishing hooks to the body, which prevented Rosa from mounting much in the way of a consistent attack.
"I should have thrown more punches," said Rosa, 19, owner of a 2-3 record.
Antonetty maintained a steady pace during all three rounds, while consistently scoring with both hands.
"I wanted to get on him and score," said Antonetty. "This is my biggest win ever. Joey told me to keep throwing punches. I had him and I felt like I could finish the job but I was actually trying to take my time and pace myself. I was worried about getting tired."
Still, Antonetty left nothing to chance en route to winning the biggest fight of his amateur career.
"He doesn't get hit much," said Ramalho. "He does a great job slipping punches. I told him don't go back, keep going forward and stay on the attack. The only time he got hit was when he stopped going forward.
"He does a really nice job throwing his punches at angles and rolling to the side so he doesn't get hit with any counter punches. He did a great job. He's a real hard worker. It's nice to see all his hard work pay off."
The New England Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions for Open Division fighters will be held at the Auditorium next Tuesday and Wednesday. Both shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at the door.
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