LEWISTOWN - Pennsylvania Golden Glove champ and Lewistown native Nigel Rogers had his sights set on becoming the 178-pound national champion when he went to Mesquite, Nevada for the Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions.
Although the tournament doesn't post scores for fights or knockout times like most professional fights, you can bet this tournament features the best amateur fighters in the country and Rogers showed that he belongs in that category.
On May 1, Rogers had his first fight of the tournament against Ryan Riley, and like anyone Rogers had first-fight jitters, but Rogers defeated Riley by a unanimous three-round decision.
Nigel Rogers, right, poses for a picture with Floyd Mayweather Sr, center, and 132-pound fighter Seifullah Jihad after one of Rogers’ wins at the Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions May 1 in Mesquite, Nevada. Rogers picked up a pair of wins during the competition.
"We both had first-fight jitters, but I thought he was more of a brawler than anything," Rogers said. "He kept coming throughout the whole fight, but I was able to use me feet and movements to open him up and get my shots in."
The win put Rogers up against one of the top seeds in the tournament in Rogers' weight class in Donald Anderson, a former Junior Olympic champion. With Rogers more comfortable in his second fight, he was able to take down Anderson by decision for his second win in two days.
"I just muscled him," Roger said. "I was a lot more relaxed because it was my second fight. It was nice being able to defeat one of the top fighters in my class too, it gave me a ton of confidence."
Although Rogers won the second fight in two days, he was feeling the effect a bit as his left shoulder was a bit sore.
"You fight everyday so it's a bit hard on the body. But I didn't want to say anything because if the training staff finds out they might not let you fight," he said.
Rogers still kept chugging long and on Thursday stood across Michigan state champion Christian Rogers, but couldn't get the win in a close decision bringing his tournament to an end.
"That fight was really close," Nigel Rogers said. "It could have went either way, it was hard to use my left because my shoulder was sore. When you fight three days in a row, you're going to get some soreness, but it was a real close decision."
Although Rogers didn't return to Lewistown with the national title, he knows the experience he learned from the trip will go a long way in the future.
"You gain experience in every fight so it will definitely help down the road," he said. "I gained more confidence and I look forward to doing it again next year because I'll have about 30 fights under my belt and this year I was only two fights away from the finals. So next year I'll definitely be looking to get into the finals."
Rogers is also happy to be returning home knowing he's the top guy in the state, but like anyone who's hungry, that's not enough for him.
"It feels pretty good," he said. "I know I beat all the top fighters in the state and it's cool to be ranked No. 1 in the state but I want to keep going and be one of the top fighters in the country."
Don't expect Rogers to take off too much time before he gets back in the ring this year as he wants to keep the pedal on his career down and keep moving forward.
"I'm just going to take some time to let my shoulder heal up," Rogers said. "I was thinking about entering the Ringside Tournament in Kansas, that's probably the next step. But for now it's just one step at a time."