As a young teenage boxer, Robert Couzens heard all about the Golden Gloves and the fighters who were held up for celebration as “the Golden Boy.”
It’s a title reserved for a fighter who elevates his game in the tournament and often proves to be one with a lot of potential.
Couzens, a former Queensborough Boxing Club fighter, would listen to his then-coach Manny Sobral talk in glowing terms about those fighters who had won it before. Receiving it was a sign of approval from the toughest judges.
Even though a decade has passed since those days and Couzens is now coached by Mihai Afloarei, the feeling of accomplishment still packed a refreshing punch two weeks ago when the boxer was presented with his Golden Boy award.
“It was so great,” said Couzens, 27. “It’s been a number of years since I fought in the (B.C.) Golden Gloves, but, as a kid, I knew and heard how it was a prestigious local tournament. (Sobral) would show me the list of names of who had won the Golden Boy title each year and it seemed to be the best-of-the-best. ... I wanted to be up with those guys.”
By beating rival and reigning B.C. welterweight champ Ilya Kovalenko in a unanimous decision in Richmond, Couzens got his long-awaited wish.
The bout, the Burnaby fighter’s second in as many days, saw Kovalenko lay a couple of gloves on him but unable to counter Couzens’ quick and potent strikes.
“He got his fair share in, but I felt like I was in a good spot,” noted Couzens.
The two, who outside of the competitive ring have sparred on occasion, delivered a good main-card event in the 69-kilogram division, going the distance before the decision was handed down.
It was just part of a busy past few months for Couzens, who heads to the Canadian national championships later this month in Langford, where he aims to defend his Canadian crown, as well as solidify his spot on the national team.
Last month, he won the Washington State Golden Gloves, capturing the out-of-state title with a one-fight decision.
Prior to that, Couzens saw his second tour of duty in the Dominican Republic as part of Team Canada. Although he lost both matches, the experience was well worth the cost.
He trained at the Queensborough club until December 2016. The club was located in the basement of the old Arenex building, which was destroyed when the roof collapsed under a heavy snowfall.
Couzens now turns his focus to the nationals next week in Victoria, where he enters as the defending welterweight champ.