With a fight looming in North Carolina shortly after, the young boxer’s aunt asked him to win that bout in honor of his grandfather. Competing with a heavy heart, Lugo lost the match.
Distraught over the loss, Lugo was still determined to make his grandfather proud, however. That’s when he promised his father, Michael, that he would honor his grandfather in his own way with a win at the Ringside World Championships in Independence, Mo.
“He kept his word,” Michael Lugo said.
Nathan Lugo beat Mickel Clements of Michigan by a 5-0 unanimous decision to win the world championship of the Boys Pee-Wee Open, competing in the 8- to 9-year-old age group division at the 81-85 pound weight class.
Lugo was one of more than 1,500 boxers at the event, which lasted from July 28-Aug. 2 and crowned 262 champions across 62 divisions ranging from pre-teens to senior-level boxers. Participants came from all over the world to compete.
Lugo, who placed third at the event last season, won all three of his bouts in the eight-person bracket unanimously. His opponent was seeking his second straight world championship.
“I was upset last year when I lost because I felt like I won that fight,” said Lugo, who is 36-10 this year, “so I worked even harder this year to win and it paid off.”
Lugo’s strategy was simple — cut off the ring, so his opponent wouldn’t have anywhere to go, and keep pressing.
“I didn’t want to give them a chance to relax,” he said. “I stayed on them. I was so excited when I won. I can’t express, even now, how happy I am.”
Michael Lugo, himself a former boxer, didn’t know what to expect from his son, but he figured out early on that Nathan was in control of the match.
“I was nervous before the fight,” Michael Lugo said, “but I could tell, about 10 to 15 seconds into the first round, that (Nathan) was on top of his game. He was into the fight. He had his combinations going and was doing his thing. He was all over the kid, and by the third round, the fight should have been stopped.”
Nathan put on a great display of boxing, according to his father, while Clements was “on his bicycle.”
“That’s a boxing term meaning the kid was trying to get somewhere because he didn’t want to be in the ring,” Michael Lugo said.
Nathan Lugo, a fifth-grader at Addison Elementary School in east Cobb, wasn’t the only local standout at the world championships.
Ten-year-old Anthony Reeves, another one of Michael Lugo’s pupils who also attends Addison, finished as the in the 76-80 weight class. Reeves lost the title to Da’veon Foster of Ohio, who was ranked No. 2 nationally in the division.
“Anthony made it the finals and fought well, but the judges ruled in the other guy’s favor” Michael Lugo said.
The young boxers’ seasons will continue, even though school has started. They will continue to train to earn enough high marks to once again gain entry into National Silver Gloves Tournament held this winter.
“They’re going to continue to train to get better and better,” Michael Lugo said. “To get national-and world-championship recognition is outstanding. If these guys can continue on this pace, the sky’s the limit for their boxing careers.”