LOWELL -- The best amateur boxers in New England will spend the next two nights trying to punch their ticket to Las Vegas.
The 68th annual New England Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions for Open Division fighters will be held at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both fight cards begin at 7:30 p.m., and tickets can be purchased at the door.
Regional champs from Golden Gloves tournaments in Lowell, Fall River (Southern New England), Holyoke (Western New England) and Burlington, Vt., (Northern New England) will compete in the New Englands.
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"This is the best amateur boxing tournament around," said Central New England coach Arthur Ramalho, who runs the West End Gym in Lowell. "The best amateur boxers in New England are fighting to be the best of the best. It doesn't get any better than that."
The Central New England squad features a trio of hard-hitting West End Gym fighters -- Manny Antonetty (114 pounds) and Jonathan Perez (123) of Lowell, as well as Charles Espinal (165) of Salem, Mass.
"We have a great team," said Ramalho. "The kids from the West End Gym have been training hard for this. We have a hard-working group. The talent is there for us to win the team title."
Western New England will field its usual strong squad. Leading the way for Western England are Anuel Rosa Lopez (123), William Foster (132), Jamen Descartes (165) and Elvis Figueroa (178).
"We have a phenomenal team," said Western England Golden Gloves director Dean Fay, whose team includes boxers from Worcester, Springfield, Holyoke and Connecticut. "We have some really great fighters."
Rory Stapleton (152) is a young boxer on the rise for Northern New England.
"He's really good," said Northern New England Golden Gloves director Ernie Farrar. "He did a very good job in our tournament. I believe he's only 17. For a kid his age he is very polished."
Northern New England boxers Jason Quirk (165), John Lopez (123) and Allen Farris (114) hope to make strong runs at a title.
"I'm happy with the team," said Farrar. "I think we're pretty good. We'll find out just how good beginning Tuesday night."
Southern New England is deep and talented. Isaiah Peixoto (123), Destiny Chearino (women's 141-pound division), James Perella (152), Adam Paolino (165), Ray Oliveira Jr. (178) and Cassius Chaney (heavyweight) will make their presence felt for Southern New England.
"We have another good team," said Southern New England Golden Gloves director Paul Morrissette. "We have some really talented kids but there are a lot of tough weight classes. I think most of the fights in this tournament are going to be really close. I hope a lot of them go our way."
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NEW ENGLAND GOLDEN GLOVES
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
(at Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
Open Division Semifinals
Manny Antonetty (Lowell, CNE) vs. Christian Andrade (Dartmouth, SNE)
Angel Gonzalez (Hartford, CT, WNE) vs. Allen Farris (Charlestown, N.H., NNE)
John Lopez (Westbrook, ME, NNE) vs. Isaiah Peixoto (East Providence, R.I., SNE)
Jonathan Perez (Lowell, CNE) vs. Anuel Rosa Lopez (New Haven, CT, WNE)
William Foster (West Haven, CT, WNE) vs. Elijah Peixoto (East Providence, R.I., SNE)
Anthony Marsella (Smithfield, R.I., SNE) vs. Julio Perez (Marlboro, CNE)
Jalen Renaud (Springfield, WNE) vs. James Perella (Mansfield, SNE)
Darren Colucci (Swampscott, CNE) vs. Rory Stapleton (Lancaster, N.H., NNE)
Charles Espinal (Salem, CNE) vs. Adam Paolino (Warwick, R.I., SNE)
Jason Quick (Scarborough, ME) vs. Jamen Descartes (New London, CT, WNE)
Johnny Rosa (Lawrence, CNE) vs. Elvis Figueroa (New Haven, CT, WNE)
Kimberly Wabik (Somerville, CNE) vs. Destiny Chearino (Warwick, R.I., SNE)
Lyndsey Kyajohnian (Portland, ME, NNE) vs. Alana Royale (East Hartford, CT, WNE)
TEAM KEY: CNE-Cental New England; NNE-Northern New England; SNE-Southern New England; WNE-Western New England.