Bashir ready to rumble at Golden Gloves finale – Lowell Sun
Since stepping into the squared circle four weeks ago, Ilyas Bashir has been all business.
The Auburn, Maine native and Portland Boxing Club light welterweight has made quite an impression in a pair of pivotal performances, at the 75th New England Golden Gloves at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Presented by Lowell Sun Charities, the nine-week boxing extravaganza culminates with week nine action, featuring 13 championship bouts, Thursday, March 10 starting at 7 p.m.
A Northern New England champ in the novice male 139-pound bracket, Bashir will fight Southbridge slugger Josue Maisonet for all the marbles, Thursday night.
“I’m ready for the finals,” said Bashir, who has enjoyed working in the cozy confines of the 100-year-old venue. “There’s something about boxing here in Lowell. You can hear everything, and there’s just one light (overhead), but that light shines bright on you. That’s why I like boxing here, a lot.”
The energetic 18-year-old advanced to the finals with a pair of effective performances in weeks five and six. The 5-foot-11, 139-pound righty shined with a unanimous decision over local favorite Nathanial Seng, March 10 in the Top Central New England Finals. He followed up that performance a week later in a notable bout against New Bedford’s Nemesio Ferrer in the All New England Open and Novice Championships, Feb. 17. Bashir utilized his long reach to his advantage in both bouts, while also showing that he could take a punch or two, especially from the inside.
“That was my second fight ever in Lowell,” said Bashir, regarding the Ferrer fight. “I’m not going to lie, my first fight I had a little jitters, but this fight I liked much better. The first 30 seconds he came on with a burst, but I controlled the rest of the round after that. He had his moments, but that’s boxing. It isn’t going to be perfect.”
Bashir’s reach kept the New Bedford boxer at arm’s length for much of the contest. Whenever Ferrer moved in, he still managed to avoid getting caught up with any inside flurries.
“My coach knew I had the height advantage,” Bashir said. “He told me ‘He’s either going to come in and be a counterpuncher, or he’s going to put his hands up and come in on you.’ I was trying to plan for both, and when he came out, I figured he was a counterpuncher because he stood there waiting to come at me.”
Ferrer was effective working inside but fell victim to several stunning flurries from Bashir that left him staggering, including a game-ending exchange in the third round. During that scrum Ferrer’s right shoulder popped out of his socket rendering him defenseless. His corner quickly threw in the towel, and Bashir won the bout via abandonment.
“I didn’t even notice his shoulder, but hope everything’s okay,” Bashir said. “I hope he gets better.”
A first-generation Somalia immigrant, Bashir was born in Saco, Maine, before heading north to reside in Auburn.
“I’ve been to the homeland, but I’ve lived most of my life here,” said Bashir, who is also the first in his family to attend college at Bates, where he’s currently an undecided major.
As far as boxing goes, Bashir has been studying the sweet science the past year-and-a-half.
“I’ve always watched it as a youngster, so I just decided to test it out for myself,” Bashir said. “If you’re a fan of something, you’ve got to try it. Now it’s my number one (sport).”
And there’s nothing quite like the feeling of entering the ring, with a capacity crowd watching your every move.
“It feels amazing,” said Bashir. “But once that bell rings, it’s like a switch goes off in your head. It’s one-on-one. It isn’t like basketball or soccer, where you have teammates that can help pick up the load. It’s all on you. You either go out and do your thing, or you get the reciprocal, and he comes at you.”
In either scenario, Ilyas Bashir will be ready for business, as usual.
The New England Golden Gloves will also host special guest and former Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion, Mike Tyson. An International Boxing Hall of Famer (Class of 2011), and a former National Golden Gloves champion (1984), Tyson will be honored during an in-ring ceremony at 7 p.m. sharp.
Baker’s dozen of championship bouts slated
The Bashir/Maisonet bout is just one of 13 scheduled championship bouts slated for Thursday, in what is shaping up to be another historic night of boxing in Lowell.
Wakefield’s Matthew Moniz will take on Waterbury Connecticut’s Tay Asbury, for the novice male 147-pound championship. A McNally Boxing product and former Wakefield High hockey player, Moniz showcased his skills in the ring with a split decision win over Tye Zola in a 147-pound battle, Feb. 10.
Born and raised in Wakefield, Moniz started boxing a few years ago, as offseason conditioning.
“He came here to train for hockey not boxing,” said trainer Jim McNally, of McNally Boxing. “And then boxing became the priority seven months ago.”
So how does the boxing arena compare to hitting the ice?
“It’s different,” Moniz said. “I used to play hockey in front of big crowds, it’s a lot different when it’s just you, but I love it. I love being here. All the energy, everyone is backing you up. It’s just so fun to be here.”
Thursday’s fight card carries a strong novice contingent, which also features Wilmington middleweight Matt Rideout going up against New Britain, Connecticut’s Lisandro Maysonet (156). The lone novice female bout features Georgetown’s Stephanie Guida clashing with Chicopee’s Cassandra Vasquez for the 146-pound championship. Lawrence native and Central New England champ Jaylin Aquino will spar with Western New England’s best Slawomir Bohdziewicz (189).
The elite bracket also appears booked, Super featherweight Michelle Egan matches up with Marni O’Shea for the elite female 132-pound title. Worcester flyweight Ricardo Espertin (112) faces Providence, Rhode Island pugilist Orlando Velasquez. Rhode Island roughian Ricardo Nunez (139) battles Bridgeport Connecticut’s Mario Mani. Nashua New Hampshire heavy hitter Christian Moura (125) goes toe-to-toe with Warriors Boxing Club veteran Diego Bengochea. Grealish Boxing recruit Kimano Pabon (156) throws down the gauntlet with Hard Knox boxer Will Guilmette. Gloucester’s Adrian Gedney (165) wages war with Western New England’s Jhon Devers. Burlington boxer Clayton Fallon (189) will also trade hands with UFAI Boxing enthusiast David Huckabay.
In the main event, Boston Boxing heavyweight Gilbert Kabamba will go toe-to-toe with Portland, Maine’s Zordan Holman, for the novice male 203+-pound championship.
A former Everett High football star, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Kabamba is currently sporting an undefeated 4-0 record, including his most recent win, a unanimous decision over Bloomfield Connecticut native Paul Casey, Feb. 24.
Representing Central New England in the preliminary rounds, Kabamba, 20, has amassed an impressive hit list over the last eight weeks of action. The Broadway Boxer headlined week one with a dominant decision over Muna Anosike, Jan. 13. The hard-throwing righty followed with a split decision over Framingham’s Jareed Gaines, Jan. 27. Kabamba may have saved some of his best stuff in another headline bout with a 5-0 decision over Watertown heavyweight John Richard, Feb. 3.
Originally from Dorchester, Kabamba relocated to Everett and was a dominant defensive end for the Crimson Tide for four seasons, before graduating in 2019. He headed to Merrimack College for one season, before dropping out.
“After that, I just turned to boxing,” said Kabamba. “Over the summer of 2021, I just started working out and went to a boxing gym, Broadway Boxing and opened it up from there.”
According to the burly boxer, his gridiron mentality only compliments his approach inside the ring. But was a 4-0 run at the New England Golden Gloves anything the up-and-coming heavyweight anticipated?
“Definitely, because I know my work ethic,” Kabamba said. “It became easier for me going from playing high school and college football turning to boxing. It just clicked. I’m an overall athlete. I can basically play any sport if I put my mind to it.”
For now, Kabamba is staying focused with the fisticuffs.
“I’ve just got to win at New England’s,” Kabamba said. “I don’t know what’s next after that. I’ve just got to keep going with whatever comes. We’ve just got to keep moving ahead.”
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