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After a standing room-only crowd of amateur boxing last weekend at the Washington Golden Gloves semifinals at the Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing Center in Landover that orchestrated great action and competitive bouts, the stage now is set for this weekend.

The action will continue at 8 p.m. Saturday, which includes two local boxers in Michael Reed and Maurice Mitchell of Dream Team Boxing of Clinton, to the Washington Golden Gloves championship finals, taking place at the Greater Waldorf Jaycees Community Center.

Nine bouts from the novice division will kick off action first, followed by nine more from the open division in three-round, two-minute contests.

Winners from the open division will advance to the Golden Gloves regional championships on April 13, also at the Jaycees, to face boxers from North Carolina and Virginia.

Region champions then will continue their journey to the Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions, which will be held in Mesquite, Nev., from April 29 to May 6.

Washington Golden Gloves President Bobby Magruder pointed out that the talent in the ring is exploding, especially in the junior division, and mentioned that the event this weekend should be a great turnout once again.

“I’m real excited, just tickled on how the talent has propelled, especially in the junior division, which is our future,” Magruder said. “All of our open [division] fighters came from juniors and have gotten a lot of experience.”

Reed, a 2011 Westlake High School graduate from Waldorf, was a National Golden Gloves champion last year and he said he is hungry to defend his gold, which starts Saturday.

Reed, 19, who is a welterweight at 141, defeated Emmanuel Rodriguez of Down Under Boxing by points in the semifinals.

It was the third-straight time that Reed has beaten Rodriguez. Reed defeated Rodriguez in the local Golden Gloves event at Jaycees last year.

“I’ve been training hard since January,” said Reed, who fought in the USA Championships in Colorado Springs three weeks ago, where he lost in the quarterfinals. “I’ve been working on more combinations and speed.”

Buck, who is Reed’s father and trainer/owner for Dream Team Boxing, has been working with him on hand speed and not just power.

“In the semifinals he was using more power,” Buck said, “but we are focusing [on] just settling down and wearing down the opponent as opposed to going for the knockout.”

Saturday, Reed will step in the ring versus Cornell Hines of Sugar Ray Leonard Gym in the open division.

Hines is fairly new to the open division and Reed mentioned that he thinks he could have a little edge with experience and more fights under his belt.

“I don’t know anything about him, but I know he’s a good fighter that came from novice, so he’s new to open,” Reed said.

From watching Reed grow over the years in the ring, Magruder expects big things from him and said he’s improved dramatically from a year ago.

“Michael has a lot of experience and I’m looking for him to repeat as a National Golden Gloves champion,” Magruder said.

From the Army to the ring

In the novice division, Mitchell, who moved to Great Mills in 2010 from Norristown, Pa., won his semifinal bout last weekend over Ryan Watson of Main Street gym.

With the help of sparring partner Reed, trainers Buck, Joe Valentine and Andrew Council, Mitchell is ready for his championship bout with Steven Bucci of Ground Control gym in the 165-pound weight class.

“The best thing about Dream Team is preparation, and sparring with Reed and other pros I get to chance to get more experience,” Mitchell said. “Coach Buck and coach Valentine are very open-minded and I get the best of both worlds.”

Valentine mentioned, “He’s one of the hardest-working guys in the gym and the thing about [him is that] he’s an unorthodox boxer, but he’s very strong.”

Though introduced to boxing at the age of 18, Mitchell joined the Army and had stints of deployment to Iraq in his early 20s, which held him back from gaining a lot of fights.

But now at 26, Mitchell, still a recruiter in Calvert County, has been training hard for the last one and a half years.

“When it comes to boxing I’m pretty nervous, but once the first punch is thrown, I settle down and try to go to work,” Mitchell said.

“With him being in the military, he couldn’t get in the gym like he wanted to, but he’s been picking it up,” Buck said. “Maurice has been doing well with all of his bouts, they’ve been standing eight counts or stoppages. As far as Mike is concerned I expect him to defend his title.”

Taylor Ross, 19, a 2011 La Plata graduate, has been boxing for several months after tearing his meniscus in the regional semifinals four months ago as a member of the College of Southern Maryland mens soccer team.

Ross lost in the quarterfinals a couple of weeks ago in the novice division at 165, but he said it was a great experience for him under George Cupp.

Cupp, who attends New Life Church in La Plata, got Ross into boxing, helped him gain interest and improved his conditioning.

“I had to find a sport where I didn’t have to run, and both of my grandfathers used to fight and I just wanted to try it,” Ross said. “God is more involved [in] the sport of boxing than any other sport.”

At the championships on Saturday, Ross will be receiving the sportsmanship award at the Jaycees for his efforts.

ajmason@somdnews.com