Team Georgia boxing brought home several championships after concluding its summer season with sanctioned USA Boxing tournaments in Dallas, Texas, Mesquite, Nevada and Independence, Missouri over the final three weeks of July.
Led by Michael Lugo, the owner of east Cobb’s Lugo’s Boxing and Fitness Gym and the Junior Olympics chairperson of the Georgia Amateur Boxing Association, boxers Nathan Lugo, Elijah Lugo, Dennis McKeller, Macy McKeller, Floyd Scholfield and Sa’Rai Brown-El all won titles during the trip.
Team Georgia started out in Dallas at the “Battle of Big D” tournament, July 14-16. Having never won in three previous trips to this event, three Georgia boxers — Nathan Lugo (132 pound/Intermediate), Elijah Lugo (95 pound/Bantam) and Dennis McKeller (106 pound/Bantam) — all captured championship belts this time around.
“This is a super tough tournament,” Michael Lugo said. “We had never won here before, but this year three guys took home championships. Dennis is our newest boxer, and the future looks bright for him.”
Next, the group traveled to Mesquite for the Junior National Golden Gloves Championships, taking place July 19-22. Cobb County residents joining the Lugo brothers in Nevada were Luke and Jack Palmer, the McKeller’s, Scholfield, Jarred Blount and Hakeem Antonio. Lankford, a recent Junior Olympics champion, hails from Jonesboro.
Elijah Lugo and Blount were unable to duplicate last year’s Golden Gloves wins.
“Team Georgia took some hard losses on the second day of competition as Elijah, Hakeem, Jack and Jarred were eliminated from the tournament,” Michael Lugo said.
Only four boxers — Nathan Lugo, Scholfield, Dennis McKeller and Lankford — reached their respective finals bouts with Scholfield and Lugo taking home Golden Gloves titles.
Scholfield defeated Eric Tudor, an ex-national champion from Florida, to win the 114-pound/15-16-year-old crown, while Lugo won a 3-0 unanimous decision over two-time returning national champion Exson Sanchez from Oregon to claim the 132-pound/13-14-year-old title to become a five-time Junior National Golden Gloves winner.
“Floyd won a unanimous decision over the Florida boxer in a great display of speed and power and was awarded best boxer for his age group, which was well-deserved.” Michael Lugo said. “And after a close first round, Nathan made adjustments and began to control the fight with his power shots, taking a lot of movement away from (Sanchez). Then, Nathan poured on the pressure and punishment in the third round.”
Macy McKeller also won a Golden Gloves championship after going unopposed in the 119-pound/15-16-year-old female division. Michael Lugo also took home honors as the Most Outstanding Coach of the tournament.
Finally, the group traveled to Independence for the Ringside World Championships, July 26-29. Team Georgia took nine boxers to the meet, but only three, Sa’Rai Brown-El of College Park, Nathan Lugo and Luke Palmer, competed.
Palmer lost in the semifinals of the 106-pound/13-14-year-old division, while Brown-El won unopposed at 90-pounds for her age group. Lugo captured his fourth straight Ringside World Championship, defeating Ferris Dixon of Detroit with a 3-2 split decision for the 132-pound/13-14-year-old title.
“Nathan got through his first two matches winning 5-0 in both, but Ferris Dixon was a very fast and tough boxer,” Michael Lugo said. “Nathan earned that fourth straight world championship.”