Kevin Arnold had three minutes to prove himself worthy of reaching the Golden Gloves national Tournament of Champions, and the 28-year-old Las Vegan made the most of those minutes.
In the four-state West Regionals on Sunday at Santa Fe Station, Arnold dominated Terence Oddie of Oregon in the final round of the three-round 165-pound championship and won by split decision, 30-27, 27-30, 29-28.
Arnold was one of four Las Vegas fighters to punch their ticket to the nationals in Salt Lake City on May 16-21. Joining him are Saul Gomez at 108 pounds, Kye Brooks at 178 and Mushin Cason at 201. All won by split decision and will be making their first appearance at nationals.
Last year, Oddie had beaten Arnold in the regional, which includes boxers from Nevada, Oregon, Arizona and Washington.
“I should’ve taken it to him sooner, but I was trying to read him and see what he was going to do,” Arnold said. “I was probably too cautious. Especially for a three-round fight.”
Gomez, 19, got the day started for Nevada by edging Arizona’s Anthony Clark, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28. Then came Arnold’s win, followed by Brooks, who fought a smart fight against Oregon’s Dylan Carlson and won 30-27, 28-29, 30-27.
“I was taller than him, so I made sure I used my reach to my advantage and just outbox him,” said Brooks, 21. I didn’t want to do anything careless. But I’ve only been boxing for two years. I’m still learning. To go to nationals is a dream come true.”
Cason, the 22-year-old brother of Hasim Rahman Jr., also found himself in a tougher fight than expected against Alberto Rivas of Oregon, but he kept his poise and won, 30-27, 27-30, 29-28.
“I’m trying to follow in my brother’s footsteps,” Cason said. “It’s all about working hard and staying humble.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj