Shadow Boxer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Anthony “Amp” Webster now knows about the business of boxing.

He went to Knoxville, Tenn., looking for his shot to do something big in the sport, something no native of Selma has done before.

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He was constantly met with disbelief when he told people he was just 19 years old.

But it was Webster who was shocked when he heard the results of his final Olympic qualifying bout against Jonte Willis, the No. 1 super heavyweight in the U.S.

“I fought him hard, and I knew I beat him on punches every round,” Webster said. “We were waiting after the fight, and they announced the decision was a 3-2 spilt. I knew when they said it they were going to give it to him.”

Willis took home the National Golden Gloves championship and a spot in the Olympic team trials.

Webster found out his age was both the best and worst thing working for him. He said fighters and trainers were putting bugs in his ear about how older, more established guys turning pro deserved to pad their win records.

But if he waits it out for the next Olympic qualifying year, he will himself be one of those fighters who has an established name.

Judging by the way Webster performed in the tournament, he may have already done that. He breezed through his first two matches. That included beating No. 1 national fighter Felix Stewart, who is ranked in a different system than Willis.

“Before I came, I did all the research,” Webster said. “I looked all these guys up on the Internet. I knew who the No. 1, 2 and 3 boxers in the country were. After I beat Felix, people came up to me asking, ‘Do you know who you just beat? You beat the No. 1 fighter in the nation.’ After that first night, that fight was all people were talking about.”

Now Webster is weighing the decision to turn pro. If he does, he says he will train with Ace Miller, the man who trained him for the national tournament. Miller trained Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, among several others.

Webster even got some acknowledgement from Willis.

“He told me, ‘You knocked off Felix Baker. You’ve got nothing to hang your head about.'”