Grand Rapids area fighters win US National Boxing Championships



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PK Boxing managed a rarity when the Grand Rapids-area club recently won national championships with a pair of fighters.

Joshua Pagan, 21, and Justin Lacey-Pierce, 23, both won titles at the USA Boxing Nationals, an open tournament held December 6-11 in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Lacey-Pierce and Pagan, however, had an advantage over the competition – over each other.

“Iron sharpens iron,” said Tony Pagan, who is Pagan’s father and trained the fighters. “They fought, they pushed each other. Their work ethic was that whoever did this, the other had to do better. If one won, the other had to come out and win too. They’re really good for each other, and I think that’s what gave them the edge over everyone.

PK Boxing is located at 652 28th Street SW and is operated by Brian Lentz. Pagan and Lacey-Pierce both won five fights spread throughout the week, with Pagan capturing the 147-pound class while Lacey-Pierce taking top honors at 156.

“It’s awesome,” Lentz said. “Two guys on one gym winning the US National Boxing Championships is unheard of.”

Pagan, a Kenowa Hills graduate, advanced to the quarterfinals at the USA Boxing Nationals last year. Pagan went all the way this year, winning the championship with a 5-0 decision over Keon Davis in the final. He dedicated the victory to his grandfather, Gonzalo Pagan, who died in April 2020.

“The final fight was my most memorable because no one expected me to win,” said Pagan. “The guy I fought with is a really good fighter, and he fought overseas.

“It was a great feeling. As I raised my hand (after the championship fight) I thought of my grandfather who has passed away. I dedicate that to him. Everything I have done in boxing I dedicate to him because he has supported me throughout the years.

Lacey-Pierce recorded a 3-2 win over San Antonio’s Ruben Salazar 3-2 in the championship bout, after beating Washington DC’s Quincey Williams 4-1 in the semifinals.

“I was really, really confident, but part of you still has doubts,” Lacey-Pierce said. “But with each victory, I became more confident. By the time I got to my third I was like I could win this thing. The fourth was against a guy who was already on the American team. When I beat him I knew I could win this whole tournament. “You can never neglect anyone. Ruben Salazar was a very resilient and enduring man and had power. Quincey probably had more technical boxing skills.

Both fighters credited Lacey-Pierce’s brother Spencer Crosby with helping get the job done. Crosby is a personal trainer who has worked closely with fighters.

“We are very proud of them,” said Tony Pagan. “They did a great job from start to finish. The prep they took, these guys were working out outside the gym, doing strength and conditioning with Justin’s brother. There were grueling days, but their strength and conditioning played a major role in their victory. “

Both Pagan and Lacey-Pierce have said they are busy considering their futures as both eyeing the pro ranks.

“Right now I’m leaning to fight for Team USA,” said Lacey-Pierce. “I am thinking of joining Team USA and gaining international experience. I feel like fighting guys all over the world would be a big step.

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