Douglin will put his perfect record on the line on May 15th at Madison Square Garden.
By John Archibald
This past February, I headed to Prudential Center to cover the Tomasz Adamek-Jason Estrada fight, and I was also tipped off by Anthony Catanzaro, Paulie Malignaggi’s co-manager, about a young junior welterweight by the name of Sadam Ali. With two fights occupying the majority of my focus, I knew it would be pretty hard for any other boxer to leave much of an impression on me that night. Until an undeniable pre-fight marketing video caught my attention on the undercard, that is.
On the video was a promo for Denis “Da Momma’s Boy” Douglin, a southpaw from Marlboro, New Jersey, by way of Brooklyn, New York. When you watch him fight, you can quickly tell that the young junior middleweight is highly talented and extremely well-trained. What might throw you off is who is responsible for grooming this budding star, which was the focus of the video that had me so drawn in.
“When I was eight years old, I got into a fight and didn’t do so well,” Douglin told me in a recent conversation. “After that happened, my mother forced me to get in the gym and start training.”
Douglin’s mother, Saphya, didn’t just want to throw her son to the wolves, though. You see, Saphya is a certified boxing coach, personal trainer and nutritional specialist. Not only did she want her son to be able to defend himself, she wanted to personally show him how to do it.
“I can remember when I first started, I hated boxing,” Douglin now laughs in retrospect. “I used to fake being sick and do whatever I had to do to get out of training.”
Then one day, it all started clicking for him.
“I remember when I was 10, I sparred with a kid named Chester. I’ll never forget his name,” Douglin reflected. “One time, he destroyed me, and I can remember when I came out of the ring, my mother was laughing at me. That was a defining moment for me, and it was then that I started to focus and began training really hard.”
And the next time he and Chester stepped between the ropes?
“Oh, I definitely beat him up,” Douglin laughed.
As he got older, Douglin continued to work hard and quickly began making a name for himself in the amateur ranks. Throughout his growth as a fighter and a man, though, he always stuck by his mother’s side.
“I’ve worked with male trainers, but I realized that everything they were telling me, my mother had told me countless times,” he said. “No one was telling me anything I hadn’t heard from her. I’m happy to say that my mother is the one who has taught me everything I know.”
Literally having his mother in his corner is something Douglin says is most irreplaceable on fight days.
“Having her in my corner keeps me relaxed and confident,” he stated. “No one knows me better than my mother. She can see the look on my face and know exactly what I need in between rounds. She has the ability to trigger any emotions within me, and she knows exactly how to get me to the next level.”
While his mother laughing at him at 10 years old proved to be an early turning point in his life, it was a severe automobile accident in 2006 that truly put it all in perspective for Douglin.
“After that accident, I became much more focused,” he stated. “The doctors were saying that I may never be able to fight again at first. But when I was finally able to (fight again), it felt like boxing was such a privilege because it was almost taken away from me. The whole experience made me much more focused, and it truly turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”
Now, I know the fact that Douglin is trained by his mother is something that has you intrigued right now, or you wouldn’t still be reading these words I am writing. That puts you exactly where I was that night in February. Cool story, great marketing, but can “Da Momma’s Boy” fight?
I’m here to tell you he most certainly can. I wouldn’t waste my time telling you his story if it wasn’t backed up in the ring. That night, I watched Douglin improve his professional record to 7-0 after putting forth a dominating performance against a worthy opponent in Washington native Eddie Hunter. After acting out a well-scripted game plan to perfection and scoring a unanimous decision, I was definitely impressed. Little did I know, my path with Douglin would soon cross again.
About a month ago, I headed out to BB King’s in New York City to catch a card being presented as part of DiBella Entertainment’s Broadway Boxing series. Much to my surprise, “Da Momma’s Boy” was already fighting again. Trying to look like I was one of boxing's best up-and-coming scouts, I made sure to let everyone on press row know about Douglin. You’re going to remember the name, I told them. If they went to the bathroom when he was walking to the ring, though, they wouldn’t have even known he was there.
When the bell rang for Douglin’s fight with Chad Greenleaf (12-14), I was dialed in on my new favorite southpaw. I just knew this tactician was going to put on a clinic and prove me right, but it never got to that point. Just 1:27 into the first round, Douglin popped Greenleaf with a vicious hook, and next thing I knew, Greenleaf was asleep on the canvas. So yeah, “Da Momma’s Boy” can most certainly fight.
After that night, I knew the time had come to link up with Douglin for a feature on him. I definitely needed to reach out to him and make it happen soon. And as it turns out, our paths once again were set to cross. Through his Twitter page (@DaMommasBoy), I found out he would already be fighting again, this time on the undercard of Malignaggi-Khan on May 15th at Madison Square Garden. While he may only be turning 22 years old on Thursday, Douglin is definitely wasting little time on his journey to the top.
“I just want to stay as busy as possible; I’ll never turn a fight down,” he told me. “I’m still in the early stages of my career, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to reach my goal - and that is to become a world champion.”
When he does get that shot at a world championship, we all know that he’ll definitely have the eyes of his mother on him. And if you’re still reading these words I write, then I’ve succeeded in making sure he’ll have your attention, too.