Three-time Golden Gloves regional champ Jordan Najar admitted that he was so low emotionally after a devastating loss in November that he considered quitting boxing.
There is the old sappy adage about how champions don’t quit and all that, but ultimately Najar decided to keep at it because he wanted to.
“I told my mom, ‘I want to take a break. I don’t know if I have it in me,’ ” said Najar, who lost to Dallas Golden Gloves champion Angel Alejandro in Fort Worth in November. “Finally, I don’t know what sparked me … I got that flame back and came back.
“I felt like I have something to prove.”
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That he’s back is a good thing for the rest of us, who get to see what shapes up to be a captivating final in the 123-pound men’s Open Division of the Fort Worth Regional Golden Gloves tournament at Watt Arena on Saturday night.
Call it the Battle of the North Side.
Najar, a North Side High School grad, will meet North Side senior David Anguiano with a trip to the state tournament on the line. The winners of the state tournament advance to the national tournament as representatives of Texas in Lafayette, La., in May. Bouts for Saturday’s championship round begin at 7 p.m. Including the 123-pounders, nine Open Division champions will be crowned.
Najar, in his first bout since that November fight, shook off a dose of ring rust to earn a decision victory over Eusebio Maldanado of the Waco Boxing Club. Conversely, Anguiano looked sharp in picking apart Miguel Hernandez of Faith, Hope and Gloves.
Alejandro, the Dallas fighter, will be back on the grounds of the Will Rogers Memorial Center for next week’s state tournament. Najar plans to be also.
“I’m very hungry for that, but, first, I have to get through this next guy coming up,” Najar said. “I’m excited for this fight. Everybody needs to watch this fight.”
Najar and Anguiano know each other well, both having trained out of the Golden Gloves gym on Henderson. They have a sparring history, though not a recent one. While Najar stepped away for a couple of months, Anguiano has been away for the better part of a year while improving his results in school, he said.
Anguiano, a three-time regional champion at the novice level, was dominant in victory on Friday in his first bout at the Open Division.
He scored with just about everything he threw at Hernandez, who himself brought everything into the ring except a glass jaw.
Anguiano scored with one combination after another, including one that almost sent Hernandez to the floor, necessitating an eight-count. But Hernandez took it all before dropping the decision.
“I caught him with a few good shots … I didn’t think he would go down,” Anguiano said. “I just wanted to keep the pressure on him. I’ve had some hard training, and I was ready for the fight.”
Now, he gets the bout he has dreamed about since stepping in the ring seven years ago.
“I’ve been looking up to him since I first started,” Anguiano said of Najar. “There’s a little shakiness. He has the experience, I’m the underdog coming up. But I feel like I’m ready for him now.
“This is what I was hoping for — and kind of not looking forward to — but it’s going to be a great fight tomorrow.”
201 pounds final: Rodrique Ibanda vs. Tevin Watson.
201-plus pounds final: Jurgen Deraj vs. Edib Haunic.