Sunshine State Games enters the ring with Boxing in Fort Lauderdale this weekend
TALLAHASSEE – Nearly 80 boxers are set to step inside the four-cornered ropes this weekend at the Joseph C. Carter Park Gymnasium in Fort Lauderdale as the bell rings for the Sunshine State Games Boxing Championships on Friday, July 20. The three-day event will feature six major divisions for both men and women scattered through multiple weight classes.
After weigh-ins conclude each morning, bouts, depending on division, will feature three to four rounds of pound for pound battle, averaging lengths between one and two minutes with 60 seconds of rest between each round.
The 2018 Sunshine State Games Boxing Championship will put Florida’s best of the best against each other where Sunshine State Championship bragging rights are on the line.
This year’s championship is the fourth consecutive year of competition for the sport after boxing was not contested as a Sunshine State Games event from 2007-2014. Boxing has held an active standing in South Florida as three out of the last four Sunshine State Games tournaments have been held in Broward County.
“We are so proud to host the Sunshine State Games Boxing championships in Greater Fort Lauderdale,” said Carol Hudson, vice president, Sports Business Development at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We look forward to welcoming all the boxers, coaches, and spectators to Joseph C. Carter Park. When not in the ring, we invite them to enjoy our beautiful 23 miles of golden coastline, culinary scene, water activities, and of course, great boxing competition.”
Among this weekend’s participants is Hialeah’s own Aaron Aponte.
Aponte has steadily risen through the boxing ranks where he currently sits at the No. 2 overall ranking, according to USA Boxing, in the 141-pound division among the 17-18 year old classification. In 2017, Aponte sat on top of the rankings as the No. 1 ranked boxer for the 15-16 year old division in the 132-pound weight class. Through 77 fights, Aponte carries a 65-12 record and has won Sunshine State Games gold in three consecutive years.
“Boxing is a family affair for me,” said Aponte. “My father is my rock and means the world to me. He [Reniel Aponte] quit his job and invested everything he had to open the KO Fitness Center to help train me year-round and invest in my dreams.” And the year-round desire to box continues for Aponte as he aspires to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. “This weekend, I want to focus on boxing and the tactical points of our sport. Down the road, I want to make the US team and battle for Olympic gold in Tokyo.”
Francisco “Angel” Nazario, who has served as the Sunshine State Games’ Boxing Director for the last three years, was a crowned champion in 1990 at 139 pounds. “When you compete in the state of Florida, the Sunshine State Games are a must have for your boxing resume,” said Nazario. “We are excited to have this year’s competition back at the Carter Park Gymnasium and look forward to a great event!”
Two former competitors with impressive resumes, after getting their start in the Sunshine State Games, include world champions Roy Jones, Jr., of Pensacola and Orlando’s Antonio Tarver.
The two met as in a 13-year old division bout during the 1982 Sunshine State Games in Gainesville with Jones earning the gold medal over Tarver. Both advanced their resumes as Olympic medalists as Jones won a silver medal in 1988 and Tarver captured bronze in 1996. The duo met again in 2003 for the WBC World Lightweight Championship where Jones defeated Tarver for the belt. In two matches to follow, in 2004 and 2005, Tarver earned wins to capture and retain the title.
For a complete listing of this weekend’s schedule, events, and results, visit flasports.com.