Brian Zayas of Meriden, Conn., left, takes a punch from Troy Anderson of Dorchester. But Zayas captured a unanimous decision victory at the Lowell Memorial
Brian Zayas of Meriden, Conn., left, takes a punch from Troy Anderson of Dorchester. But Zayas captured a unanimous decision victory at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

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LOWELL -- Brian Zayas wasn't about to leave anything to chance Thursday night.

If he was going to go down in the New England Golden Gloves novice semifinals at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, he made it plenty clear that he was going to go down swinging. Zayas threw punches -- lots of punches. And he landed them with great frequency.

The aggressive game plan worked to perfection and the 19-year-old from Meriden, Conn., won his 132-pound bout by a unanimous decision over Dorchester's Troy Anderson.

"I felt like I was in total control," said Zayas.

Anderson happens to be a southpaw, which played perfectly into Zayas' strength. He frequently trains against southpaws and has learned to exploit some of the common tendencies of a lefty.

Nathan Balakin of Tyngsboro is declared the winner in his 141-pound semifinal bout after referee Rick Robitaille stopped the contest.	SUN/JULIA MALAKIESun
Nathan Balakin of Tyngsboro is declared the winner in his 141-pound semifinal bout after referee Rick Robitaille stopped the contest. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

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"It's always step in with my right with my left foot out to the outside and use that jab," said Zayas. "Since he's a southpaw, he's wide open for that coming in there."

Zayas, who improved his record to 7-2, pounced on Anderson early and put his opponent on the defensive for the entire three rounds. When Anderson tried to counter, he simply couldn't land any substantial punches.

In next week's final, Zayas will face a boxer with one of the best names in the entire tournament -- Miles Bloodworth. The native of Manville, R.I.. defeated Danny Pang (Portland, Maine) by unanimous decision in a later bout.

Zayas' trainers would like to see him duplicate his effort from the semis in next week's contest.


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"Right from the get-go, he seemed like he was really dominating the fight," said Cliff Comerford, one of Zayas' two trainers. "The admonition before the fight was two words: don't wait. And he didn't wait and he was really busy. He followed our instructions to launch the right hand because that's effective against southpaws. He executed the strategy perfectly."

Zayas started boxing full-time two years ago, urged on by his father, Orlando, who is a big fan of the sport.

Katherine Zehr of South Portland, Maine is declared the winner of her 125-pound semifinal fight.	SUN/JULIA MALAKIESun staff photos can be ordered by
Katherine Zehr of South Portland, Maine is declared the winner of her 125-pound semifinal fight. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
He played soccer, ran track and wrestled during his high school years. That athleticism and versatility is evident in his boxing style.

His trainers see a bright future ahead.

"He's got great potential," said Comerford. "He's one of the few we have at our gym who is a natural. But we like to have these kids also have safety nets. He's also going to community college."

Added fellow trainer Dennis Rivera, "He came to us with a regimen of training hard already. No matter what we say to him about training, he does it and it pays off."

There were a total of 15 bouts, including a 141-pound match that featured Tyngsboro's Nathan Balakin.

Balakin certainly had a large cheering section in his corner and he parlayed that energy into an impressive victory over Joe Hoopaugh (Richmond, Vt.

) when the fight was stopped in the third round.

Balakin, who trains at the West End Gym, delivered an array of haymakers that stunned Hoopaugh and when the referee ended the match, Balakin was visibly fired-up as he jumped up into the air and pumped his fist. The crowd loved it.

Balakin will face Alejandro Paulino (New London, Conn.) in next week's final. Paulino defeated Reuben Rouke (Wareham) in a fight also stopped in the third round.

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