Not unlike any other 22-year-old, Jordan Najar was in serious need of discernment, a period to think about the direction he was headed in boxing and whether he even wanted to continue.
A loss in November had left him stunned, but it was merely a symptom of a bigger issue. His step-father, one of his coaches, suggested he take a timeout.
“I was burned out,” Najar said. “He told me to take a little break … ‘get your mind right.’
“But I can’t stay away from boxing. It’s been a part of me for the longest time. I have so much love for boxing. I can’t just leave it because I lost.”
With that sense of renewal, Najar returned to the ring last week and won a berth in this week’s Texas State Golden Gloves tournament at Watt Arena on the grounds of the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. The fights start Wednesday night and run through Saturday. Bouts begin at 7 p.m. each night.
Each of the state’s top Golden Gloves boxers are vying for state championships and the berth to the 92nd Golden Gloves national tournament that comes with it. Nationals are set May 1-6 in Lafayette, La.
The tournament will mark Najar’s fourth at state, but his first in the 123-pound division. Previously, he fought at 108 pounds and twice at 114 pounds.
Najar’s work is cut out for him this week. There are no gimmes.
Among those in his way is Angel Alejandro, the Dallas fighter who almost sent Najar to his boxing grave in November.
Work, however, is what Najar said he has been doing since rediscovering himself.
He’s back in the Golden Gloves gym Monday through Friday and runs at least five miles a day, Monday through Saturday, when all he does is cardio work, he said.
“It has made me stronger and hungrier,” said Najar, who started boxing as a 14-year-old North Side High School student. “Mentally … I just got that fire back. I really didn’t have that motivation.”
He didn’t do it on his own.
Najar said he was grateful for the role fellow boxers Jordan Pace and David Anguiano played in helping push him. Pace is boxing this week, too, at the 123-pound division. Anguiano and Najar fought for the top regional prize on Saturday.
“I needed that push,” Najar said.
In his perfect world, Najar, who has more than 90 fights, will get another shot at Alejandro, icing on the cake if it were to be for the state title. The loss to Alejandro, he said, made him a better fighter, exposing flaws he needed to fix.
His confidence and commitment restored, Najar is ready to go.
“When I was fighting in novice, I was fighting people with 30 fights already in the ‘man open.’ And I was hanging in with them,” Najar said. “That made me realize I had something. I fought Hector Tanajara, Gilbert Renteria and Arnold Alejandro. All top-ranked fighters.
“I’ve been so close. This time I’m trying my hardest.”
Texas State Golden Gloves
Wednesday-Saturday, 7 p.m.