Boxing: Olympic dream closer for Schenectady’s Imam

There really is no rest for the weary, especially when the weary is a boxer who just earned the last

There really is no rest for the weary, especially when the weary is a boxer who just earned the last spot at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

To earn that coveted spot, Schen­ectady’s Amir Imam, who trains at the Quail Street Gym, had to win six bouts in six days at the aptly named Last Chance Tournament in Cincinnati, which wrapped up Saturday.

He now has three weeks to train for the Trials, which start July 31 in Mobile, Ala.

“We’ve got three weeks, so we’ve got time to get ready,” Imam said. “Right now, I’m just letting my body rest [a couple of days] to get back to normal. Then I have to start back up, ASAP, get back at it.”

Normally a light welterweight at 141 pounds, Imam bulked up to 152 to fight as a welterweight in the tournament. His natural weight is closer to 148, so it wasn’t too taxing.

He was able to keep his speed and add a little strength, he said.

Imam opened the tournament in Cincinnati by stopping Emmanuel Moore of Little Rock, Ark., in the first round. After four decisions that ranged from five points to eight, he dominated in the finals against Freeport’s Patrick Day, winning, 27-15.

Day had won his previous five bouts by an average of 13 points, but was no match for Imam.

Most of the time, Imam was able to outbox his opponents, using his speed advantage and ring dis­cipline.

But, as Imam said, “Sometimes a fight breaks out at a boxing match.” Such was the case in his third bout, in which he beat New York’s Jeremy Fiorentino, 24-19.

“The toughest bout, to tell you the truth, was the third fight,” Imam said. “I tried to box him, but it wasn’t working because he kept coming. So we had to sit there and bang it out, see who’d win it.”

Now he knows, at this heavier weight, he can win with his ability, but he also can win with grit.

Still, he said he knows he can’t let the confidence of his recent wins go to his head.

“I’m confident, but that six fights is going to be nothing compared to Trials,” Imam said. “Trials is going to be much more compet­itive. There’s a lot of great fighters out there trying to make the team. I’m looking forward to this.”

One man in particular stands out in Imam’s mind — U.S. national champion Errol Spence.

“He’s won a lot of national tournaments at that weight,” Imam said. “He’s known, but I’m not going to let that get to me. I’m still going to train hard and give it my all.”

The Trials are a double-elimin­ation tournament that will put the eight men in the ring once each day, Imam said, with the last man standing grabbing a trip to the London Olympics in 2012.

It’s a trip Imam has wanted to make since the games were in Athens.

“It would mean a lot to me [to represent the U.S. at the Olympics], I’ve been dreaming this for a long time,” he said. “After the 2004 Olympics, I really wanted to go to the Olympics. Ever since, I’ve been striving for it, and now, I’m in the Trials. I’m one step closer.”

Fight CARD tonight

ARES’ Fight Night V at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany tonight will feature several local boxers and raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The main event will feature Markus Williams and Jose Mad­ina. The undercard, which begins at 7 (doors open at 6) will feature

Stephen Scott vs. Joseph Crosby, Derrick Evens vs. Zach Swallen, Sarah Kuhn vs. Michelle Garland, Brian Clookey vs. Stephen Tyner, Javier Martinez vs. Calvin Pritchard and Jamell Tyson vs. Corey White.

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