Brooklyn’s own Keisher McLeod-Wells, better known in boxing circles by her nickname “Fire,” added to her crowded trophy case this summer, her last as an amateur boxer before she soon turns pro.
In August, the Bushwick resident captured the Ringside World Boxing Championships and Long Island Championships for her 114 lb. weight-class. A month earlier, she narrowly missed winning the National Golden Gloves tournament, losing a controversial decision many felt had more to do with politics than punches landed.
Despite the disappointment, it was a productive summer for McLeod-Wells, who works and trains out of the hallowed Gleason’s Gym on 75 Front Street in DUMBO, whose distinguished line of boxers include Mike Tyson, Jake LaMotta, Roberto Duran and Muhammad Ali, back when he was known as Cassius Clay.
The 5-foot-8, 114-pound McLeod-Wells is blessed with a long, lean frame and an outstanding 66-inch reach. She keeps opponents off-balance with a quick jab, and inflicts damage with counterpunch one-two combo. Perhaps her best attribute is her foot-speed, with which she creates angles for her punches.
She described her style as similar to that of Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns, the tall, long-limbed middleweight who achieved stardom in the 1980s. Her outstanding quickness and speed makes her an outstanding defensive fighter as well, inviting comparisons to recently retired middleweight Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
“I really let my opponent choose how they want me to fight,” she said. “I feel them out, and I react accordingly.”
In the World Championships in Kansas City – which ran from August 5-11 – McLeod-Wells won two bouts before squaring in the title bout against Canadian champion Roxanne LeBlanc.
It took McLeod-Wells two rounds to figure out LeBlanc’s unconventional, rather awkward style. Once she did, however, she landed a barrage of jabs, lead right-hands, and body shots, pulling away on points to take the championship.
In the Long Island Tournament – which ran from August 18-20, and welcomed all fighters from New York State – McLeod-Wells won two fights to advance to the championships.
There, she met Wally Waldo, a short, squat, but strong fighter whose strategy was to get inside the taller McLeod-Wells. But McLeod-Wells used her jab to keep Waldo at arm’s length, and then used her opponent’s over-aggressiveness to land some well-placed counterpunches.
By the end, Waldo’s nose was bloodied, and she had to endure a standing eight count from a hard body shot. The decision, and the championship, went to McLeod-Wells.