Forty-two years after he captured his first National Golden Gloves Tournament title at Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Hall-of-Famer Sugar Ray Leonard returns Saturday, October 10 to the same historic building as a television analyst for Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBCSN.
PBC on NBCSN is headlined by a 10-round rematch between Framingham (MA) welterweight Danny “Bhoy” O’Connor (26-2, 10 KOs), who is fighting to avenge his 2011 loss to Brooklyn welterweight Gabriel “Tito” Bracero (23-2, 4 KOs). O’Connor and Leonard are two of only four people to ever win the National Golden Gloves and National Amateur Championship in the same year. O’Connor collected both accolades in 2008.
Leonard captured top honors in the lightweight division (132 pounds) of the 1973 National Golden Gloves Tournament, outpointing Hilmer Kenty in the championship final at Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Leonard won the National Golden Gloves Tournament at light welterweight title the following year, while seven years later Kenty became the first professional world champion from Emanuel Steward’s soon-to-become legendary Kronk Gym in Detroit.
“One of the most precious moments of my career happened in Lowell, Massachusetts,” Leonard recently said about his aforementioned experience. “It was priceless.”
In addition to Leonard and Kenty, five other future world champions – Marvin Hagler, Aaron Pryor, Art Frias, Leon and Michael Spinks – competed in the 1973 National Golden Gloves Tournament. Leonard, Hagler, Pryor and Michael Spinks are International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees.
Leonard has another tie to Lowell, the fourth-largest city in Massachusetts. In 1978, he won a 10-round decision over Dicky Eklund at Hynes Auditorium in Boston. Eklund was the head trainer of his half-brother, “The Pride of Lowell” and three-time “Fight of the Year” participant “Irish” Micky Ward, who celebrates his 50th birthday this coming October 4.
Also featured on the PBC on NBCSN telecast is undefeated super bantamweight rising star Jonathan “Salomon King” Guzman (19-0, 19 KOs), a Dominican Republic native who now lives in nearby Lawrence (MA), takes on upset specialist Danny Aquino (17-2, 10 KOs), of Meriden (CT), in the 10-round co-feature.
The broadcast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will showcase Quincy, Mass. featherweight prospect Ryan “The Polish Prince” Kielczweski (23-1, 7 KOs) against Brooklyn’s Rafael “Dynamite” Vazquez (16-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round bout.
Lowell Memorial Auditorium, which also hosted the 1995 National Golden Gloves Tournament, represents a homecoming for O’Connor and Kielczweski, who both won New England Golden Gloves Tournament titles there.