The rapid reply showed Kenny Lally had been asked the same question over and over again.
“It took us 14 hours to get here,” a smiling Lally immediately said of the drive from his home in Prince George, B.C. “I needed a tune-up fight.”
Lally, a five-time Canadian national champion, had the longest trip of any fighter but showed no signs of road fatigue, putting on an impressive performance in defeating five-time local champion Jerrell Barbour in the 123-pound finals at the 65th annual Tacoma Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament Saturday at the University of Puget Sound.
“We’ll travel anywhere,” said Lally, who will next make stops in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic with Team Canada Boxing. “We travel all over the world, but this was our first time in Tacoma. It was awesome.”
Barbour, a 2009 Stadium High School graduate and member of the Tacoma Boxing Club, was looking to become the first boxer to win six local Golden Gloves championships but had difficulty matching Tally’s strength.
Tally floored Barbour midway through the first round, connecting with a left hook that caused Barbour to stumble, then put his opponent on the canvas with a right.
“I fought at 114 pounds for a long time,” said the 23-year-old Tally, an 11-year veteran of the sport with 96 amateur fights. “I was cutting weight to make 114. Now I don’t have to and feel so much stronger at 123.”
Barbour, a 2011 West Regional Golden Gloves champion, recovered from the early knockdown and fought gamely the rest of the bout but was never able to take advantage of his quickness, which has been his calling card since winning his first local crown in 2007.
Barbour’s Tacoma Boxing Club teammate Nick Jefferson evened the score with boxers from Prince George by defeating Jag Seehra in a 141-pound bout.
It was the fourth consecutive local championship for Jefferson, who won the 141 title last year to go with back-to-back championships in the 132-pound classification in 2010 and 2011.
Jefferson was one of three Tacoma Boxing Club members to claim titles as the team also received championships from Dugan Lawton (178) and Marquis Weston (heavyweight).
Weston, who defeated Seattle’s Malaga D’Hue in finals, joins Jefferson as a four-time champion, also claiming 178-pound titles in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Ernesto Perez (Fort Lewis) won the 165-pound division with a win over Michael Poole of Victoria, B.C.
The card featured two female championships with Jen Hamann defeating Tacoma’s Salecia Dillingham in the 132-pound division and Griselda Madrigal successfully defending her 141-pound crown with a win over Janae Jackson.
Tacoma Golden Gloves champions advance to the West Regional in Las Vegas in April. Tacoma Boxing Club’s Hector Rendon faces Portland’s Lorenzo Caldera in the 132-pound finals at noon at the Al Davies Boys & Girls Club, in hopes of advancing to the West Regional.
Rendon defeated Jorger Lineras by knockout in the opening round of the tournament before knocking off Nino Delgado in Saturday’s semifinals.
Emmett Linton, Jr., a four-time Tacoma Golden Gloves champion, was inducted into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame between bouts.