Massa is a Warrior in the ring |

Massa is a Warrior in the ring

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Joey Massa has only fought three times as an amateur, but he already has a pair of Golden Gloves.

The former Whittell High School football player received the gloves as a gift from his grandfather, Anthony, who won them by taking the 1942 New Jersey Golden Gloves 160-pound title. He proudly wears them on a necklace.

Looking at the gloves and hearing his grandfather recount his boxing tales has served as the principal motivator behind Massa’s boxing career.

“My mom always says it’s in the blood and stuff and I got into it from being around my grandfather and my dad,” Massa said. “To win Golden Gloves like my grandfather, that would be the greatest.

“Schooling and boxing, that’s pretty much my life now.”

The University of Nevada Las Vegas freshman has yet to lose as a boxer, winning his college debut several weeks ago in Reno. Massa, 19, won an unanimous three-round decision over Wolf Pack 165-pounder Steve Meerschert last month.

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“I was super, super nervous. It almost took away from me, I was so nervous,” Massa said. “But after the first punch comes, everything is all right.”

Massa started boxing as a 15-year-old at the Carson City Boxing Club. He won his two fights but he devoted most of his high school time to football, where he played running back and linebacker for the Whittell Warriors.

“Joey doesn’t get too excited about anything, but when he heard about his grandfather’s Golden Gloves title, boxing has been on his mind,” said Joey’s father, Stephen.

The best advice Massa has received from his grandfather is to be religious about his roadwork and don’t rely on one punch.

“I’m always on the jab — 1-1-2,” Massa said. “My grandpa always told me there are fighters and there are boxers, and boxers always come out strong.”

Massa will fight for the second time this season Saturday night at the El Dorado Hotel Casino in Reno. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the cost is $10 at the Showroom Box Office.

“I know I’ll be nervous, but I’m hoping not to be as nervous,” Massa said.