Local amateurs eye gold medals in world meet

For Jesus Magdaleno, it would be quite a hat trick. For Michael Hunter, it would be a sweet daily double.

The two Las Vegas amateur boxers are headed to Milan, Italy, this week to compete in the World Amateur Boxing Championships, which will take place Sept. 1 to 12. Magdaleno, entering his senior year at Durango High School, is the reigning 119-pound Golden Gloves and USA Boxing national champion. Hunter, a Palo Verde graduate, is the USA Boxing super heavyweight champion.

Also making the trip are trainers Pat Barry and Augie Sanchez of Barry's Boxing. They have trained Magdaleno throughout his career and are working with Hunter again after training him early in his career.

Both fighters see the trip as an opportunity to enhance their dreams of competing in the 2012 Olympics in London.

"It would be a boost for me if I were to win," said Magdaleno, who will compete at 119 pounds. "For me, this is the biggest event I've ever competed in. This is like a mini-Olympics. All the best boxers in the world are going to be there, and it's a great opportunity for me to see how I rate with them."

Hunter said: "It may be a little too early to say (for 2012), but it would definitely help me in terms of my ranking and give me confidence if I were to win. So, yeah, it's definitely big for me."

Hunter, who failed to make the 2008 Olympic team, said he's at his peak this year mentally and physically.

"I feel great, and I've gotten stronger," said Hunter, who weighs 207 pounds and plans to enter the ring between 212 and 215. "Mentally, I'm focused, and I'm very comfortable. I know a lot of the guys I'm fighting, and my international experience helps me a lot for this tournament."

Magdaleno said while he lacks Hunter's international experience, he thinks the progress he has made this year will serve him well in Italy.

"When I look back to where I was in March (at the Nevada Golden Gloves) and where I am now, it's like looking at two different fighters," he said. "I've learned so much the past few months. My offense and defense are so much better. My confidence has grown, and I'm training harder than I ever had. I know that's going to help me."

Barry said both fighters are capable of bringing home gold medals.

"Jesse has grown so much over the last year as a fighter," Barry said. "He's at the right stage at the right time. He has a great role model in his older brother, Diego, and he's been surrounded by positive influences.

"Michael has improved quite a bit this year. Mentally, he's focused. His skill level is better, and he's more mature."

MAYWEATHER-MARQUEZ OFFICIALS -- Tony Weeks will referee the Sept. 19 welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden. Dave Moretti of Las Vegas, Burt Clements of Reno and William Lerch of Illinois will be judges.

On the undercard, Joe Cortez will referee the WBA featherweight title fight between Chris John and Rocky Juarez, with Adalaide Byrd of Las Vegas, Herb Santos of Reno and Glen Hamada of Washington serving as judges. Russell Mora will referee the WBO interim lightweight title fight between Michael Katsidis and Vicente Escobedo, with Robert Hoyle and Duane Ford of Las Vegas and Mike Fitzgerald of Wisconsin serving as judges.

HEADED TO THE HALL -- Las Vegas broadcaster Al Bernstein will be inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles.

Joining Bernstein in the 2009 class will be boxers Orlando Canizales, Brian Mitchell, Rafael Herrera and Lucia Rijker, along with trainer Amilcar Brusa and judge Dr. James Jen Kim.

"Obviously, I'm still active, but it's very gratifying," said Bernstein, who next year will celebrate his 30th year as a boxing announcer. "But it's very special because it comes from my peers."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.