Douglin and Martinez will meet on the first 2012 telecast of ESPN2's Friday Night Fights (Photo courtesy of Knockout Publicity).
Editorial by John Archibald, Resolution Sports
“Da Momma’s Boy” To Face Unbeaten Steven Martinez on January 6th
In a move that has become a rarity in boxing, two of the top up-and-coming prospects in the game will clash when ESPN2 kicks off its next season of Friday Night Fights on January 6th at Mallory Square in Key West, Florida. Junior middleweights Denis “Da Momma’s Boy” Douglin (13-1, 8 KOs) and Steven Martinez (11-0, 9 KOs) will both be looking to catapult their careers when the 2012 edition of the show gets underway, at the same time giving boxing fans some foreshadowing into the future of the sport.
“I was originally offered a fight with Jonathan Cepeda (11-0, 10 KOs), and we said yes to that,” Douglin commented on how negotiations for this bout began. “Steven also said yes to that fight, and since they were both signed with (promoter) Lou DiBella, I guess they decided that was a better way to go. So they made the Cepeda vs. Martinez fight, and then Cepeda had to pull out. They asked me if I wanted to take the fight with Steven, and that’s how it came about. I was supposed to fight Cepeda, but now I’m fighting Steven. So in the end, it all worked out.”
Not only have Douglin and Martinez enjoyed a lot of early success in their professional careers, they were also accomplished amateurs as well. Both fighters were National Golden Gloves Champions in 2008, earning well-deserved recognition as a couple of boxers to keep on the radar when they each turned professional the following year.
“I’ve known Steven for years, but we’ve never fought each other because I was a little heavier than him,” Douglin reflected. “We both went to the nationals together, and we both won a National Golden Gloves in 2008 – he won it at 152, and I won it at 155. He’s fought friends of mine, he’s fought Delen (cousin Delen Parsley) before, so I’ve pretty much been around him my whole boxing life. I’ve only sparred him once, but we’ve been around each other the whole time.”
That sparring session took place earlier this year, right after a questionable stoppage loss by Douglin to veteran boxer Doel Carrasquillo in February.
“It was competitive,” Douglin said of that meeting. “It was actually my first sparring session after the fight with Carrasquillo. It was good, really competitive. He’s definitely a good fighter, and this is going to be a great fight.”
In a sport that can be as unforgiving as the game of the boxing, many people have questioned Douglin and Martinez as to why they would make this fight so early in their careers. It certainly has the makeup of what could be a big title bout down the line, so why do it now?
“This is what I’m in the sport to do,” Douglin answered. “Of course, everyone is in here to make money, but, at the end of the day, I’m in this sport because I want to be the best. I want to be the best junior middleweight out there, and the only way you can become the best is by fighting tough guys, fighting great guys.”
Taking on a challenge is nothing new to Douglin and his team, who immediately jumped right back into the fire his first time back in the ring after the Carasquillo pairing.
“People questioned me when I fought Philip McCants after the Carrasquillo fight,” he continued. “Usually, coming off a loss, people try to fight cab drivers or somebody who will just lie down so they can get their confidence back up. We went from a loss right into a tough fight because that’s how you get better. I learned so much from the Carasquillo fight about myself – about training, about the sport itself – and I wanted to go right back in and put what I learned to use. The only way you’ll really see how good you are is if you earn each victory. I’m never going to find out how good I am fighting a bunch of people who are 1-31 or something like that. Steven is a great fight, and I feel like I’m a great fighter. He’s good, but I feel like I’m better, so let’s go!”
Following the bout with Carasquillo, Douglin started doing a bit of self-reflection, and he feels that the temporary stumbling point could be viewed as a blessing in disguise with the right outlook on it.
“I learned boxing is very serious,” he said of the experience. “You can’t take anybody lightly. Anybody can be better than you on a given day if you’re not training as hard as you should be training. If I fight Doel 100 times from now on, I guarantee you I beat him every time. But that one night, when I wasn’t training as hard as I should have been training, he beat me. That shows you that you have to take every opponent seriously. You have to be on point for everybody. I would never sleep on another opponent, and I would never take anybody for granted. Every time out, I’m going hard.”
Ironically, that night in February was on the untelevised portion of a Friday Night Fights card, and, just a little under a year later, Douglin has recovered to find himself preparing to hit the stage of a feature bout on the debut 2012 telecast for the highly popular boxing series. A win on January 6th over Martinez all but erases the pain he felt this past February, and it would truly open the door to the next level of his career. The chance to achieve all of those things is something “Da Momma’s Boy,” who is trained by his mother Saphya, looks to take full advantage of accomplishing that night.
“This is definitely a blessing,” Douglin remarked. “I’m one of these people who love the lights, man. That’s why I feel like I’m destined to become a world champ, I’m destined to be a public figure. When the camera’s on me, I’m excited. It’s not going to be anything that messes me up because I love the lights. The more lights, the better. The more people who can watch me, the better. I’m so excited and so happy, and I’m feeling so blessed to have this opportunity. I’m not going to let it go to waste. I’m just training hard, and on TV I’m showing off. Not showing off in the sense of hands down and being conceited, but I’m just going to showcase my skills and let the world see what I can do.”
The January 6th broadcast of Friday Night Fights kicks off that evening at 9:00 p.m., and it will air simultaneously on ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes.