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Thompson aims for Golden Gloves glory

The last time Pat Thompson stepped into the ring during the New York State Golden Gloves Tournament, he made quite a statement by beating the defending champion.

If the Buffalo super heavyweight leaves the ring tonight with another victory under his belt, he will earn an opportunity to make a more profound statement next month in Salt Lake City during the National Golden Gloves Tournament. To do that, Thompson will need to get past last year’s state runner-up, Erik Rogers, during today’s state Golden Gloves finals at The Tralf.

The 15- to 17-card event begins at 5 p.m. (doors open at 4:30) with all open-class division champions earning berths into the national tournament, which runs May 13-18. There also will be champions crowned in novice and sub-novice divisions today.

Tickets cost $30 (general admission) and $40 (ringside) and can be purchased at the door.

Western New York is guaranteed representation at nationals in super heavyweight, heavyweight (Ezra Scott of Niagara Falls) and at 114 pounds.

Dante Palmer at 141 pounds, last year’s state runner-up who fights for Lackawanna Boxing, could also earn a trip should he beat past state champion Will Madera of Albany.

The super heavyweight clash figures to be interesting in that it involves two boxers of similar size and weight. The 6-foot-1 Thompson is two inches shorter than Rogers. Both weigh between 225-230.

Thompson did a good job working his way inside in his last bout at the Gloves back in January when he earned a decision over last year’s champion, Drew Graziadei.

According to state Golden Gloves President Don Patterson, who is also Rogers’ trainer at Northwest Buffalo Community Center, Thompson competed at the Gloves a couple of years ago as a light heavyweight. He didn’t box at last year’s event but flaunted good skills in his match against the taller Graziadei and looked like a legitimate super heavyweight in that he absorbed some hard shots but also delivered some powerful ones of his own.

“It was a close fight but he clearly won the fight,” Patterson said of Thompson’s decision. “What Rogers is going to have to do is box this guy. Thompson’s going to want to box inside like he did against Graziadei. The key will be, Rogers will box him. I’m his coach. We want to stay outside and use the jab. We’ll mix it up and go inside a little bit but … we want to keep the advantage outside.”

Rogers, who wound up representing New York at nationals last year due to an injury suffered by Graziadei, received a walkover into the final in the four-person super heavyweight class.

At 114, Jake Ventry of Niagara Falls squares off against Josh Perez of Buffalo.

Scott received a walkover into nationals when his heavyweight foe, Brendan Donovan, suffered a scary eye injury in training and was forced to withdraw from the tournament.

Palmer lost last year to Buffalo resident Emmanuel Colon, who beat Madera along the way to the state final.

“He’s an experienced fighter,” Patterson said of Madera. “It’s going to be tough to beat him in a tournament like this.”

Novice-class fighters from Buffalo who will vie for championships include Mark Renza (152) and David Rivera (165), while Niagara Falls’ Keith Lindsay battles Salamanca’s Bryce Stalman at 201. Novice fighters have fewer than 10 amateur fights on their resumes.

Sub-novice Rodney Bulls of Buffalo looks to win a title at 165.