Steward fought to finals, sportsmanship trophy
Wadena's T.J. Steward won a tough semifinal bout and the Sportsmanship Trophy Saturday in the Upper Midwest Boxing Tournament at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker.
Steward, who represented Region IV, stopped North Dakota Region III entry Ryan Soft in Friday's semis and posted a third round RSC victory. The win sent Steward up against Javonte Starks of Region I in the 152-pound finals. Starks used his superior punching power to gain the victory. Steward won the Sportsmanship Trophy for his efforts.
Wadena Region IV heavyweight champ Ben Ott lost a close decision to Delano Helton of Region I. Helton went on to claim the heavyweight trophy with a victory Saturday over Region II rep Andrew Wellner.
Wadena's Trent Petro, a Region IV champ, lost a decision to Region I boxer Robert Bryant in the 178-pound finals. Bryant went on to win the Upper Midwest's Best Boxer trophy.
Also representing Region IV were super heavyweight Glen Sommers of White Earth, Fergus Falls' 165-pounder Tyler Hultin and 132-pounder Kody Thompson, Brainerd 141-pounder Tom Fanjoy and Climax 125-pounder Robert Gatiza.
Sommers opened the tournament with a decision over Erick Kendrich of Region III North Dakota. Sommers was denied a trip to the nationals by Region I's Serkley Karpenko. Hultin lost his bout to eventual champ Deontic Jordan of Region I. Thompson stopped Region II rep Tony Lee in the first round but Lee bounced back for the victory with a strong third round. Thompson won the tournament's Fightingest Fighter award. Fanjoy ran into nationally-ranked Jamel James of Region I in the semifinals and lost a decision. James went on the capture the championship by defeating Oscar Soto of Region II. Gatiza was defeated on a second round RSC by Region I boxer Robert Hillario.
Boxers advancing from the Upper Midwest will fight in the National Golden Gloves Tournament May 3-9 in Salt Lake City, Utah.