Ontario Golden Gloves: Top male and female fighters to watch
The 2017 Ontario Golden Gloves and provincial championships tournament kicks off December 7 from the Toronto Don Valley Hotel on Wynford Dr. Hundreds of boxers from across the province will compete in 24 different categories, each looking to cement their spot as a top boxer in the province.
The elite open division is where our current national champions will compete, with many of them vying for a spot on the national team.
With that in mind, here’s the top three male and female boxers we think you should keep an eye on heading into the tournament:
3. Thad Ridsdill
Weight: 69 kg. (152.1 lbs.)
Gym: Motor City Boxing Club
This might seem like a pick out of left field, but Thad Ridsdill’s recent performances suggest that he could be a force to be reckoned with soon, whether that’s in an attempt to make the Canadian national team or with a turn to the pros.
A slick boxer with good movement and impressive power, Ridsdill’s intelligent style makes him a standout on the amateur scene. Over three rounds he recently outpointed Karl Hess, who signed with United Boxing Promotions in late 2017.
Ridsdill is in what is obviously the toughest division of the tournament, with 15 boxers entered. Some of his toughest competition will come in veterans like Mark Smither, who has 85 fights, 59-fight veteran Dylan Taylor and Dan Ryan, who has 56 fights.
2. Evan Gillard
Weight: 49 kg. (108 lbs.)
Gym: Motor City Boxing Club
A 2016 national champion in the 49kg. division and a finalist at 52kg. in 2015, Evan Gillard is one of the finest young boxers in the country.
With a sharp jab, developing defensive skills and a desire to push the pace, Gillard is not only talented, but pleasing to the eye.
With his only competition being a nine-fight veteran in Ian Parina, Gillard will walk into the Golden Gloves 49kg. final as a heavy favourite. If things go well, he’ll start preparing for another national championship run shortly after.
Gillard’s goal for 2018 must be to up end current national team member Ghula Reza Ahmed Ali for the 49 kg. spot before too long. If he felt going through 52kg. national team member Eder Clervoix was the easier route, he could try that as well.
1. Lucas Bahdi
Weight: 60 kg. (132.3 lbs)
Gym: House of Five Boxing Club
Lucah Bahdi’s amateur credentials speak for themselves. A two-time national champion at 60 kg. and a finalist in 2017, Bahdi is the most accomplished and talented male fighter in this year’s tournament.
His head movement is a thing of beauty and his footwork is eye-catching, but Bahdi’s aggressiveness is what separates him from the rest of the division.
The Niagara Falls based fighter has 50 amateur bouts to his name and is the most talented and experienced 60 kg. male fighter in the tournament.
He’ll open with a semi-final bout against Mathusan Mahindas, a 35-fight veteran, in what could quietly be one of the best fights of the tournament’s opening round.
3. Caitlin Trenholme
Weight: 57 kg. (125.7)
Gym: Regency Boxing Club
When you’re talking about Caitlin Trenholme, you’re talking about a young fighter with infinite potential as an amateur boxer.
In 2014, she was named Ontario’s top youth boxer, an award that had previously been held by standout national team member Mary Spencer and Pan-Am games gold medalist Mandy Bujold.
To date, Trenholme has not quite filled that potential on a national stage, but at 21 there’s still plenty of time to do so. Trenholme could very well be the future of boxing in Ontario and Canada.
She’ll fight Tania Walters in a 57kg. semi-final on Thursday.
2. Kaitlyn Clark
Weight: 69kg. (152.1)
Gym: Bluewater Boxing Club
Kaitlyn Clark is a 2015 national finalist in the 64kg. division and has been trying to get her hands on a national championship ever since. This year’s provincial Golden Gloves provides her an opportunity to show that she still belongs amongst the best in the country in the weight division.
Clark has made no secrets about her desire to make the 2020 Sumer Olympic boxing team and to do that, she needs to be able to dominate at the provincial level.
Clark is the heavy favourite, but her competition will be stiff in this year’s tournament. Nikita Abbott has been making her name on the scene over the last two years and Carolyn Redmond enters the tournament with a lot of experience. Clark will need to be ready.
1. Sara Haghighat-joo
Weight: 51 kg. (112.4 lbs.)
Gym: TNT Boxing
Sara Haghighat-joo is the 2017 national champion at 54kg and would be a multiple-time national champion if it wasn’t for stiff competition in the forms of Erica Adjei and Mandy Bujold, both of which are on the national team.
Only 23, Haghighat-Joo is a supremely talented boxer who uses her smaller frame to her advantage, getting in and out of distance. Her peppering jab, which she uses well to both the body and head, can give opponents a lot of issue.
She enters the 2017 provincial Golden Gloves as a favourite, but 40-fight veteran Justin Honsinger won’t go away quietly.
Honourable mention: Mary Spencer
In any other year, Mary Spencer would be the consensus number one pick for fighter to watch during the Ontario Golden Gloves, but with no opponents registered, she’s not scheduled to fight. Spencer will likely be setting her sights on the 2018 National Championships, scheduled for April of 2018 in Edmonton.