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Published: Monday, 9/24/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Big dreams in a small package: 12-year-old Jones III continues to pile on national title belts

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledoan Otha Jones III, 12, poses with three of his 10 national boxing tournament belts. Toledoan Otha Jones III, 12, poses with three of his 10 national boxing tournament belts.
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Otha Jones III is just 12-years-old, but he already knows what he wants when he grows up and becomes an adult.

"My goal is to make millions and be like Floyd [Mayweather]. No, be better than Floyd," said the young, soft-spoken 90-pound Toledo fighter, who idolizes the five-division world champion boxer.

Considering Jones' early successes in the ring, which includes a 56-4 career record and winning 10 title belts heading into this summer, he appears on his way to at least becoming one of the most accomplished amateur fighters in Toledo history.

He's already won four national championships, including a Police Athletic League title last October before a hometown crowd at the SeaGate Convention Center.

The Winterfield Academy seventh-grader will look to claim a second straight PAL national championship belt when the national tournament returns to Toledo next month.

The 38th Annual National PAL Boxing Championship is scheduled for Oct. 6-13 at the SeaGate Center.

"He's going to be the man to beat all the time," said Otha Jones, Jr., 42, who is the fighter's father and boxing coach.

Jones III trains for two hours a day, five days a week at Soul City Boxing Gym, a gym located on the second floor of a drab building owned by Jones, Jr., at 801 Junction Ave. About 30 boxers, ranging in age from as young as age 5 to adult work out in the space previously utilized as a couple of apartments.

Jones III is not just a young fighter. He's a student of the boxing game. He watches videotapes of the greats. He's patterned his boxing style after Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather.

His quick fists carry plenty of punching power. He attempts to unload on opponents with a flurry of jabs, upper-cuts, and knockout blows. When he steps into the ring it's quite clear that he means business.

"I like the competition and I like to win," he said.

Ta'loun Nedd, 9, left, spars with national boxing champion Otha Jones III, 12, at the Soul City Boxing Gym in Toledo. Ta'loun Nedd, 9, left, spars with national boxing champion Otha Jones III, 12, at the Soul City Boxing Gym in Toledo.
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Jones began this summer by taking the 90-pound championship at the Title National Tournament held in June in Memphis.

A few weeks later, he punched his way to a Junior Golden Gloves national championship in Mesquite, Nev.

In August, he won a Ringside World Championship title in Kansas City.

Jones suffered a tough loss at a Silver Gloves tournament held in Terre Haute, Ind. in January, 2011.

That loss as an 85-pound competitor helped him realize what was required every time he stepped into the ring.

He credits his brother, Roshawn, 23, and his father for his success and development.

"My brother and my dad taught me a lot of stuff, and I use what I know," he said.

The two older Joneses were actually wrestlers and not boxers in high school.

Otha, Jr., wrestled at Scott, and Roshawn competed at Start.

Otha III has shown himself to be a talented wrestler, too. He's won three state wrestling championships and has continued to participate part-time in the sport. The older Joneses believe wrestling part-time benefits the younger Jones with his footwork and overall competitiveness as a boxer.

"He's a full-time boxer and a part-time wrestler," Jones, Jr., said.

"He loves boxing."

Head coach Gerald Carter works with National boxing champion Otha Jones III, 10, at the Soul City Boxing Gym in Toledo. Head coach Gerald Carter works with National boxing champion Otha Jones III, 10, at the Soul City Boxing Gym in Toledo.
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Training year-round for boxing and part-time for wrestling keeps the youngest Jones busy.

In the gym is where he wants to be more often than not. Boxing is the young fighter's passion.

His dad isn't concerned that his son will wake up one day anytime soon and decide he's had enough of the ring.

"When people or kids tend to burn out, it kind of comes more so with being burned out with losing," Jones, Jr., said. "When you've got somebody doing something and they are having fun and they're not getting hurt, it's hard to get burned out.

"As people, we have a competitive nature."

Of course, he does take time off from the gym.

When he's not mixing it up against someone in a boxing ring or on a wrestling mat, how does the young pugilist with big boxing dreams spend his down time?

"I like relaxing with my family and friends -- watching boxing," he said.

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.



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