No one is going to confuse 3 Lakes Golf Course in Penn Hills with Madison Square Garden, but a recent transformation is enhancing its boxing reputation as evidenced by the standing room only crowd that packed the clubhouse ballroom April 14, for the Western Pennsylvania Golden Gloves tournament championships.

If you subscribe to the adage “bigger is better” when it comes to boxing, you have to be a fan of both 6’2, 225 pound “Fast” Freddie Latham of Boyce AC WPAL and 6’7, 250 pound Mike Shook of PGH Boxing–RT 51.

“FAST” FREDDIE—Freddie Latham of Boyce AC WPAL throws an overhand right as Mike Shook of PGH Boxing bobs and weaves and throws a left jab to try to soften the blow in this 201+ lb superheavyweight bout.

“Lathammania” had the ballroom crowd “amped” up and Latham’s presence electrified a crowd where the majority of the fans came to see him.

“I never worry about Fred, because I have all the confidence in the world in my brother,” said Model Shavanna Latham.

“I’m looking forward to following his pro career.”

Almost lost in the “Lathammania” that made this perhaps the most anticipated fight in years is that Mike Shook had some serious credentials of his own. Shook is a great physical specimen and one of the city’s top personal trainers. He trained hard getting ready for one of the biggest nights of his life.

“We had Mike Shook’s wing span measured,” said trainer Mike Bayan. “He has the wing span of a 6-foot-9 man. Once we get him to consistently shoot his jab, nobody and I mean nobody will be able to touch him.”

Latham and Shook went toe-to-toe for 3 rounds and “Fast” Freddie was awarded the decision.

“The Lord knows I wanted to beat Freddie, but I have nothing to be ashamed of,” said Shook. “I lost in a really close fight to the best around.”

Latham is preparing to end his amateur career on a high note before moving onto the professional boxing ranks.

“Freddie’s pro debut will be June 2,” said trainer Chet Grassi. “He’s fast, strong and ready for the next level.”

The other star of the show was boxing’s latest sensation Amonte Eberhardt, 141-pound division from 3rd Ave WPAL.

Eberhardt stares ahead with a look of aggravation and dares you to make a big deal of it.

Eberhardt’s speed and power were way too much for Corey Lopez of Altoona Boxing. He put on yet another dominating performance and was awarded the tournament’s Outstanding Boxer Trophy.

Could the stars be aligning for Arron Wright of 3rd Ave WPAL to win a second state championship? Wright was given the nickname “Moose” by his trainer, Darren Dolby, because of his ability to knock his opponents out with one punch.

If you’ve followed the sport of boxing for awhile, you know exactly who Dolby is. He is respected as one of the top coaches in the business.

Wright has emerged as an old-school blood-and-guts competitor who seems physically repulsed by mere thought of losing. He beat Damion Nock of James 5:16 Boxing to win the 178-pound division and advance to the state finals.

Other winners: 95 Inter Danny Bodash, 125 JR Zack Aruello, 154 Cadet Andrew Staiger, 201 Cadet Corey Conner, 165 Shayaa Berry, 80 Bantam Cole Bodish, 141 Sub Novice Bobby Helms, 201 Master Steve Levendosky, 125 Cadet Sean Cusick, 165 Novice Anthony Hambrick, 152 Devon Williams, 70 Bantam Antonio Manno and Tayler Duncan.

“The Golden Gloves championship was swagga-rific,” said Model/Actress Bella’Lisa Smith. “Great location and atmosphere. I had a great time.”

After you win a championship, the tendency can be to bask in its glory for a while.

Don’t pop the champagne corks just yet—the Pittsburgh champions still have a long way to go in their quest for a state and national title.

Fighters who advanced from the western Pennsylvania finals moved on to the state finals, held April 21 in Philadelphia. Executive director and founder of Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League Jimmy “Mad Dog” Cvetic said he had high hopes that the local fighters would succeed.

“Philadelphia has always been notoriously rough,” Cvetic said. “They get more fights than our kids. These guys get up into the hundreds of fights, where our kids have had maybe 40 or 50. There’s no substitute for experience.”

Fighters who emerge from the state tournament will head west, to Mesquite, Nev., where the national tournament kicks off April 28.

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