USA Boxing middleweight Troy Isley is coming off the most significant victory of his young career, when he defeated the 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Cuba’s Arlen Lopez, at the recent Pan American Games Qualifier in Managua, Nicaragua.
Lopez served as a positive barometer for Isley in terms of his potential 2020 Olympic run. “Beating Lopez is my biggest win so far,” Isley admitted. “He won a gold medal at the last Olympics. I avenged my loss to him in 2017. We almost fought in The Continentals, but he lost in the quarterfinals, and I lost in the semifinals. We could face each other again in July at the Pan American Games.”
In 2017, Isley captured a gold medal at the Elite World Championships, which marked a first for an American elite boxer in six years. He’s progressed year-by-year, taking top honors at the 2012 & 2013 National PAL Championships, 2014 National Junior Olympics, 2016 & 2017 Elite National Championships. So far this year, in addition to winning at the Pan American Games Qualifier, he also took gold at the Strandja Tournament in Bulgaria.
Not too shabby accomplishments for a kid who really didn’t like boxing, especially compared to football, which was his favorite sport growing up.
“When I returned to the gym I trained at, Alexandria (VA) Boxing Club,” USA National Team assistant coach Kay Koromba remembered,” they needed help with a young kid, Troy Isley. I had a simple conversation with him. He said he’d come back to the gym if I was there coaching. I didn’t go back for a little while and he didn’t return. I eventually took over the gym when the coach left, and Troy returned.
“Troy is friends with Keyshawn Davis (USA Boxing’s No. 1-rated lightweight). They both live in Virginia (Troy in Alexandria, Keyshawn in Newport) and train with me at the Alexandria Boxing Club, when we aren’t living and training in Colorado Springs. They fought as kids and became good friends. All of the other boxers here look up to them.”
“I was only 8 and at first I really didn’t like boxing,” the now 20-year-old Isley spoke about his introduction to amateur boxing. “I was more interested in team sports like football, but I gave up boxing when I chose to compete in the Box-Offs. I just wanted to be a kid and you can’t play boxing. I went back to the gym and beat up everybody. Coach Kay told my father that he could make me into a national champion, and that gave me a lot of self-esteem.”
A self-described boxer puncher, Isley is an intelligent, well-spoken boxer with eyes on the future, outside of boxing, taking on-line business courses through DeVry University. “I can do it all,” he offered about his boxing style. “I’m working on using more jabs to be a better all-around boxer. The jab sets the offense up. I’m working on my jab because you can win fights with a jab.”
Promoters are lining up to pitch their companies to sign Isley, who has a definitive plan that involves making the 2020 USA Olympic Boxing Team, medal in Japan, and then turn professional.
“The Olympics is only a year away,” Isley noted. “I’m close with Keyshawn and Shakur (Stevenson, 2016 Olympic silver-medalist and an 11-0 pro prospect). Training with them makes things easier for all of us. We drive each other and train against different styles. I’m always picking up new stuff. We help each other training, sparring, and just talking. We’re always together, either in Alexandria or Colorado Springs. Shakur still goes there for good sparring.
“Shakur tells us a lot about his experiences in the Olympics and now as a pro. Me and Keyshawn have always talked about being together on the USA Boxing Olympic Team. We keep working hard and staying focused. It’s been our dream.”
Dreams do come true but, first, Isley is preparing for the Pan-Am Games and, possibly, his rubber match with the defending Olympic gold-medalist, Lopez.