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Local 15-year-old boxer has sights set on Olympics, career

07/13/2017, 12:10am EDT
By By STEVE JUNGA BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Christopher Stallworth-Jones, 15, right, works out with his dad, Roshawn Jones, at Soul City Gym in Toledo. Stallworth-Jones has his sights set on competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. BLADE/KURT STEISS

Like most young boxers, 15-year-old Toledoan Christopher Stallworth-Jones has dreams that include national championships, an Olympic gold medal and a lucrative professional career.

But in his case, these aspirations might be a little closer to reality than fantasy.

On July 1, Stallworth-Jones won the Junior Division 145-pound national championship in the 2017 USA Boxing Junior Olympic tournament at the Charleston (W.Va.) Civic Center.

In his title bout that day, Stallworth-Jones scored a unanimous 5-0 judges’ decision over Colby Wheeler of Eskdale, W.Va.

The Toledo fighter, who is the son of Roshawn Jones and Latoya Stallworth, had advanced to the finals with a 5-0 quarterfinal decision over Marco Campos of Omaha, and a 4-1 semifinal win over Obed Bartee-El of Huntsville, Ala.

“I want to win more national championships, be a pro boxer, and win millions of dollars,” Stallworth-Jones said of his master plan in the ring.

Winning the Junior Olympics came as no big surprise to him.

“I expected it because I trained so hard for it,” he said. “It was bound to come.

“I won with defense, and my comeback [counterpunching] was strong. I work harder than anybody, so they get tired way faster than me.”

Stallworth-Jones, who trains under his father and uncle, Otha Jones, Jr., among other coaches, works out of the Soul City Boxing Gym on Junction Avenue.

Where his son was confident in winning the title in Charleston, Roshawn Jones was not as certain.

“I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think he was going to win it,” Jones said. “In the semifinals, he faced the guy who was ranked No. 1 in the country. I didn’t tell him because I didn’t want him to get nervous.

“I just told him he had to outwork the guy, and he followed the game plan and beat the guy 4-1. At the end of the day, it was his conditioning that beat the guys down there.”

Stallworth-Jones, who attends the Phoenix Academy on Jefferson Avenue, is ahead of pace to graduate early. He likes the mostly online school work, which allows him the flexibility to devote more time to training.

His Monday-through-Friday routine includes waking up at 5 a.m. for a three-mile run, back to bed for a few more hours of sleep, a gym workout from 10 a.m. to noon, and a second gym workout from 5-7 p.m.

Although he attends Phoenix Academy, Stallworth-Jones is allowed to participate in sports through Toledo Public Schools, and wrestles for Scott High School.

Wrestling, which was his father’s sport of choice, is where Stallworth-Jones began.

Roshawn Jones had a 43-5 record as a junior at Start, and placed sixth in the Division I state meet at 119 pounds. His senior year, he was 39-2 entering the 145-pound district final at Mentor when he sustained a neck injury that ended his prep career, and ultimately required surgery.

“We started off with his heart and courage,” Jones said of teaching his son to box. “It’s very intimidating when you get in that ring, so we started off with wrestling. “If you can master wrestling, you can master anything in any sport. Once he mastered wrestling, to a certain level, his boxing went to another level.”

His son transitioned into boxing five years ago and, about one year into that pursuit, knew he was good enough to have a future in the ring.

“I got into boxing because I like fighting and I had nothing else to do besides school work and stuff,” Stallworth-Jones said. “I like to be active. I like sports. I started wrestling at first, and then my dad stated talking to me about boxing, so I started boxing.”

Stallworth-Jones has an amateur record of 40-9, including 12-1 over the past 12 months. The loss came in February in the 147-pound finals at the national Silver Gloves tournament in Independence, Mo.

“The sky’s the limit,” Roshawn Jones said of his son’s ring chances. “This is serious. This is his career for the future.

“I’m proud of him for all the hard work he’s been doing. All the dedication and sacrificing he’s been doing are paying off.”

While many mothers of boxers might cringe watching their sons risk danger in the ring, Latoya Stallworth is not one of them.

“It’s not tough for me to watch,” she said. “I’m used to it. I expect him to be a boy. He can get punched up and roughed up a little bit. It’ll just make him go harder.

“I can see him getting to the Olympics with his father being his coach and being in his corner all the way. He definitely came a long way from where he started, and I see a lot of potential with his growth. He’s doing an awesome job.”

To reach the Junior Olympic nationals, Stallworth-Jones had to advance through a state qualifier held in Toledo, and a regional qualifier in Detroit.

“I like to fight in the ring,” Stallworth-Jones said of staying out of trouble. “If you fight out on the street you wind up in jail or dead, so I chose boxing, and that’s what I’m going to do.

“I love boxing. I want to be the best, so I’ve got to train like the best. I think [of] the opportunities I have ahead in my future. I want to go to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I want to keep a straight path and keep doing what I’m doing.”

If he has a role model in the ring it is Toledo’s own world champion Robert Easter, Jr., who has twice defended his title with decisions won at the Huntington Center.

“He brought back a championship to the city,” Stallworth-Jones said of Easter, “now I’ve got to bring one back.

I’ve met him, and I like that he’s representing our city, and he’s ranked No. 1. He’s putting our city on the map.”

Contact Steve Junga at sjunga@theblade.com, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter @JungaBlade.

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