Boykins aims for national title

by Donna Lampkin Stephens

Lance Boykins has been boxing for only seven years, but in just a few weeks he’ll be contending for a national Golden Gloves title.

Lance Boykins will be contending for a national Golden Gloves title in a few weeks.

Boykins, 28, a standout football and basketball player at Oak Grove High School, will make his first appearance at the national tournament May 13-19 in Salt Lake City.

His coach at Arkansas Boxing Club in Little Rock, Norman Baker, is optimistic about his chances.

“I honestly believe he can win,” Baker said. “I’m not saying that because I like him or because I’m training him. If I were on the outside looking in and saw this kid, I’d say, ‘This guy has what it takes to win a national title.’”

Boykins won the Arkansas Golden Gloves heavyweight championship (200 pounds and under) to qualify for the recent Mid-South regional. But no other heavyweight competed there, so he won the Mid-South title by default — and with it, the automatic berth to the national tournament.

“That was a shock,” Baker said of the lack of competition. “I believe there were a couple of guys who qualified and heard he was there and backed out.”

On his Facebook page afterward, Boykins wrote that he was “kinda disappointed” to have no competition.

“Been working hard day by day for this and no one shows up,” he wrote. “Well, time to train for next month’s Nationals. Plan on bringing it home. Keep my eyes on the prize.”

Two other Arkansans will join Boykins in Salt Lake City: Quincy Means of Pine Bluff at 125, and Jermaine Reid of Ray Rodgers Boxing Club in Little Rock at super heavyweight (201 pounds and over).

“I think he is one of the top boxers in the nation,” Baker said of Boykins. “Not a lot of people want to fight him. He’s really, really, really good.

“He was already a good athlete. He listens well. He’s come a really long way in a short period of time. It’s not without hard work, though. He’s in here.”

Boykins won the state title two years ago but lost during the Mid-South event.

His goal for nationals 2013?

“Winning it,” he said.

Boykins played football at Ranger (Texas) College and the University of Central Arkansas. He and his wife, Ritha, have a son, Jaden, 3; and a daughter, Imani, born last week. He works at Afco Steel in Little Rock.

Baker said Arkansas Boxing Club had produced several national champions over the years, most recently Jonathan Nelson about six years ago.

Pro boxing is in Boykins’ future at some point, he and his coach agreed.

“I like for my guys to stay amateurs as long as they can and give them a chance to win a national title,” Baker said. “We’ll see how far he can go at nationals and then possibly, when Olympic-time comes around, he’ll be going to Brazil.

“I’m going to try my best to get him a national title this year and then we’ll see what happens from there.”