Middleboro boxers have fighting chance at Marciano titles

Oct 24, 2022

MIDDLEBORO — From training Marvelous Marvin Hagler to working with Mike Tyson’s last opponent, Dave Gomes is a boxing lifer. His next two fighters out of Gomes Gym want to carry on the tradition.

Gomes opened the gym’s current location on Anderson Avenue about 14 years ago when he decided to return to his hometown of Middleboro after living away from the area. The walls, which are covered in photos and posters advertising old events, look like they belong in a museum.

“If you get into this sport, it’s hard to walk away,” Gomes said.

These days, he trains Isaiah Cobbs and Serina Grant, a pair of amateur boxers with professional aspirations who have started winning championship belts.

Cobbs and Grant are preparing for the 26th Annual Rocky Marciano Tournament of Champions. They qualified for the final round of their respective weight classes’ tournaments, so they will step into the ring at Bally’s Twin Rivers Casino in Lincoln, R.I. on Nov. 19.

Cobbs, 20, works as an HVAC technician during the day and throws punches in the afternoon. Growing up as a football player and starring for Middleboro High School, he boxed in the offseason and eventually “caught a bug for it.” Cobbs won the USA Boxing New England Championship on Oct. 8.

“It feels amazing, but I’m still not satisfied,” Cobbs said of his regional tournament victory. “My aunt actually just passed away a month ago. I got the win and dedicated it to her, and that meant everything to me.”

Grant, 21, comes from a family of boxing fans and has trained at Gomes Gym since she was 11. She studies criminal justice at Bridgewater State University. Since the gym has no other female boxers at her level, she spars with the guys.

With two Marciano Tournament wins to her name already, Grant wants to earn a third Marciano belt before focusing on the Golden Gloves Amateur Boxing National Championship and becoming a professional fighter.

The fighters will face “hell week” in the seven days leading up to their fights at Twin Rivers. Gomes pushes the fighters to their peak condition before their matches over the weekend.

“When it comes to getting us in shape, Dave knows exactly what to do,” Cobbs said.

But how do the fighters’ families feel about them stepping into the ring?

“My nana really doesn’t like seeing me get hit, but whatever I love, she loves,” Cobbs said.

“My mom was kind of nervous, with me being a girl,” Grant said. “She was always telling me I might get my nose broken.”

To Gomes, guiding young boxers through the sport never gets old.

 “It’s like a bug. I’ll do it for the rest of my life,” Gomes said.