Douglin returns to the ring for the first time since January (Photo by Augustine Dashiell, Plainfield Sports News).
Written by John Archibald, Resolution Sports
After a nearly nine-month layoff, Friday night marks the return of Denis “Da Momma’s Boy” Douglin (14-3, 8 KOs), who will be fighting Julius Kennedy (7-6-1, 3 KOs) at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia. After battling some health issues that caused him to underperform by his own admission in his last couple of outings, a rejuvenated Douglin will step between the ropes for this bout, a man similar to the one who decisively won the first 12 fights of his professional career.
“I’m still dealing with a little bit of health issues, but this is my passion. I’d rather do this than anything else,” Douglin remarked. “Dealing with these health issues, I had to change my whole diet and switch some things up, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make this boxing thing work. So we took a couple of minutes off, trying to get everything back working. Now I feel good, and I’m ready to make a run for the title. Everything went great with training camp, and I’m feeling strong and ready to fight. I’m just ready to get it in.”
Douglin last fought in January against Jose Angel Rodriguez (17-3-1, 2 KOs), a bout that saw the 2008 National Golden Gloves Champion come out to a quick start and seemingly on his way to setting up another easy victory. However, the New Jersey native very uncharacteristically began to slow down as the rounds progressed, leaving his long-time supporters questioning if something could be wrong. As it turns out, they were correct. A couple of days later, Douglin went to the hospital to undergo some tests because he felt severe exhaustion and soreness throughout that fight, which resulted in a loss via unanimous decision. With his mother/trainer, Saphya, by his side, he was informed that he was suffering from a variety of problems ranging from heart concerns and kidney failure to high creatine levels, causing extreme muscle breakdown and failure.
“When I was fighting, I’d get in the ring and wouldn’t feel like myself,” Douglin reflected. “I started wondering what was up and why I was going through this. It definitely felt great to finally figure out what was wrong with me, knowing that it was something internal and not just me bugging out mentally. Now I’m starting to feel back like myself again, and that’s a great feeling. I feel like that’s something that is going to help out with confidence, and confidence is everything in this sport. I feel a whole lot better, and I’m ready now.”
With his health issues diagnosed and now under control, Douglin could not help but admit his excitement about getting back to work.
“It’s going to feel amazing just to get in there. I’m just so excited and so happy,” he confirmed. “The last couple fights, the day before the weigh-in, I was miserable, and I just wanted to eat. But right now, I’m good, and I just can’t wait to get the fight on. Forget eating. I’m ready to fight.”
After rushing out to a 12-0 record as a professional, Douglin suffered the first defeat of his career in early 2011 to hard-slugging veteran Doel Carrasquillo, but he rebounded nicely with wins over Philip McCants and the then undefeated Steven Martinez on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. He then stepped up again to take on rising star Jermell Charlo (22-0, 11 KOs), a fight he was unable to give his best performance and began to truly notice his health issues while in the ring. Still ignoring the concerns, Douglin next fought Rodriguez, who was stopped himself by Charlo in his last outing.
Now sitting on a 14-3 record, Douglin has his fair share of detractors, but he says the only voices he hears are from those who have remained by his side.
“Everybody is entitled to their opinions,” he said of his naysayers. “I don’t fault anyone for speaking their opinion because I know you’re only as good as your last fight. My last two fights weren’t the best, and I know that. Anyone who has written me off, I don’t have any problem with that. Just know that I keep my circle small, and I know those people believe in me and knew something was wrong. We had to deal with our situation, and we did. For anyone who thinks I don’t have it in me, that’s fine. For the people who do believe in me, I really appreciate the support. That’s who I do this for – my family and my real following.
“My real fans know what it is, and I appreciate their support. Anyone who knows me or has been in the gym with me for a day or two knows what I bring to the table – the heart, the dedication and the hard work I put into this. For those people, I really thank you and just look out because I’m back. We’re going to keep going forward and keep getting better. It’s on up the hill from here. In 2014, we’re trying to take some big fights. Of course, right now, I’m focused on this fight and am not looking past this opponent at all. But we’re going to get this fight in and maybe another fight like this, and then I want to go for the gusto. I’m ready for the top people. I’m ready to fight somebody I’m not supposed to beat. Put me on that card. Put me in the blue corner. I’m ready for that.”
And when a ready and game Douglin steps into the ring on Friday night, he says that a new and improved version of the fighter who steam rolled through the first 12 bouts of his professional career will be on display.
“People can expect me to step into that ring with a lot of passion, with a chip on my shoulder and something to prove,” he concluded. “I’m definitely going to fight a smart fight, of course. I’m not going to go in there and do something stupid where I get caught with something crazy. I know I have a lot of support and a lot of people who think it’s done for me. I’m stepping in the ring with a lot of animosity, so I’m going to try to really hurt this guy, man. That’s the attitude I bring into every fight. People who saw me fight in the past when everything was good with me know how I fight. Everybody can expect the return of that guy.”
Doors open on Friday night at 6:30 p.m., with the first bell slated to ring at 7:30 p.m. The National Guard Armory is located at the corner of Southampton Road and Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia.