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Queens fighters shine in Golden Gloves finals

Little Neck native Billy Finegan captured the 178-pound novice division championship at the 74th annual Golden Gloves, winning a 5-0 decision over Ozone Park’s Robert Williams Friday night at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The 20-year-old student at Queensborough Community College used superior footwork and right hand leads to frustrate the southpaw Williams, a 23-year-old security guard. The championship came in just Finegan’s ninth amateur bout. He had previously lost in the semifinals of the 1999 Golden Gloves.

“I feel good,” said a pumped-up Finegan in his dressing room after the fight. “It’s been a long road to get here, four months of hard training.”

Finegan is trained by former karate world champion Tokey Hill, who worked the fighter’s corner during the bout. Hill also trains Finegan in the martial arts, guiding him to becoming one of the best in the nation.

His martial arts background only served to help Finegan, who steamrolled through his first four fights of the tournament, including two knockouts. Williams, however, had eight years experience under his belt and certainly proved to be the toughest challenge yet for Finegan.

“The kid was definitely my strongest opponent so far,” said Finegan, who studied tapes of Williams prior to the bout. “He beat all of his opponents [by their] lack of movement. He couldn’t handle my movement.”

The bout opened with Finegan on his toes and Williams stalking. Finegan’s left jab and combinations carried the competitive stanza, preventing Williams from getting into a groove.

In the second, Williams started stronger, landing a right hook that knocked Finegan off balance before the younger fighter responded with a series of straight right hands that found their mark late in the round, nullifying any advantage Williams might have had over the first minute.

“I feel I was holding back,” said Williams, who trains out of Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, after the fight. “I’m not happy with the way I fought. I should have thrown more punches. He definitely won the fight.”

Every time Williams got within striking distance, Finegan either danced out of danger or threw quick combinations culminating with a clinch. Williams, who was 3-0 heading into the bout with one knockout, never got to capitalize on his strength advantage.

And that was the plan from the outset, said Finegan’s trainer.

“I think {Finegan] really fought a great fight,” Hill said. “The key was Billy’s movement. We knew he was strong. We wanted Billy to tie him up [on the inside] or stay on the outside of his lead leg.

“It was good,” he added. “[Finegan] didn’t do anything stupid.”

Finegan will next return to the world of martial arts to compete in the PUKO Games in El Salvador, a competition featuring the best martial artists from North and South America.

Friday’s card was kicked off by Queens’ Elias Caban, a 19-year-old baker fighting out of the Church St. Gym, against 18-year-old Robert Semidei, a senior at Franklin K. Lane High School, in the 112-pound novice division championship.

The action-filled bout started with Semidei carrying the first round with good combinations, forcing Caban to fight going backwards. But Semidei tired in the second, allowing Caban to fight effectively off the ropes. Numerous big shots were landed by both fighters, with neither going down.

The two stood toe-to-toe in the third, driving the capacity crowd into a frenzy. The decision could have gone either way, but the judges awarded the bout to Semidei, 4-1.

In the next bout, Queens’ Monay Mincy captured the 106-pound women’s title, vesting Ozlem Kekilk 5-0. Throughout the match Kekilk could never establish a rhythm against Mincy, the defending division and current Empire State Games champ.

Mincy used solid right hand, slick movements to carry the first two rounds and scored a standing eight count with 35 seconds to go in the third to lock up the decision.

Later n the evening, Joselio Collado, an 18-year-old student at August Martin High School fighting out of Lost Battalion Hall, scored a 5-0 decision over 23-year-old Bronx resident Rajon Grant to win the 119-pound novice championship.

In the final bout of the night, Queens’ Tanzee Daniel, a 24-year-old customer service clerk for Delta Airlines out of the Starrett Gym, scored a 5-0 decision over 27-year-old Faith Webster of the Mount Vernon Boxing Club to claim the 165-pound women’s crown.

Queens carpenter James Miller, 19, also won a title Friday, scoring a 5-0 walkover win against Brooklyn’s Troy Johnson, 30, for the 139-pound novice title.

On Thursday night at the Garden, 31-year-old Queens resident Elisabeth Rosado, one of New York’s Finest, lost a 4-1 decision to Joy Liu, a 23-year-old Manhattan resident, in the 139-pound women’s final.

Also losing a decision Thursday was Queens College’s Alexander Mancera, 22, falling 5-0 to Robert Kucher, 25, of the Mount Vernon Boxing Club, in the 165-pound open finals. Mancera also lost in the finals in 1998.

Steve Codrington, a 30-year-old Queens resident, was stopped at 1:10 of the first round in the heavyweight open division finals by 25-year-old Newton Kidd, last year’s heavyweight novice champ.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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