Douglin saw his hand raised via split decision over Martinez (Photo courtesy of Friday Night Fights stock).
Editorial by John Archibald, Resolution Sports
Da Momma’s Boy Has High Expectations after Defeating Steven Martinez
The year could not have started any better for Denis “Da Momma’s Boy” Douglin (14-1, 8 KOs), who kicked off 2012 with a bang this past Friday by defeating the previously unbeaten Steven Martinez (11-1, 9 KOs) in Key West. The win, which was broadcasted live on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, marked his first appearance in front of a nationally televised audience and gave boxing fans everywhere a glimpse at two of the top prospects in the junior middleweight division.
“I was just happy, man,” Douglin said of his immediate reaction to the split decision victory in his favor. “I put the work in, and I felt like it was my time. I was just overwhelmed and excited about the future and what is going to happen next.”
Both Douglin and Martinez have to be applauded for taking a fight that had the make-up of a future world title bout so early in their careers, and having such a huge encounter occur in front of a massive television audience only added to its drama.
“It was an overwhelming experience as far as the interviews and everything are concerned, but it was also a great experience overall,” Douglin said of making his Friday Night Fights debut. “Being on TV and having all of my friends and family watching me made the whole experience that much better. I came out of Key West with a lot more fans than I went into there with. I’m just so thankful for the whole opportunity, man.”
Always focused on improving his craft, Douglin is certainly one of his top critics. However, he takes the second seat on that panel to the same person who also stands as his biggest supporter - his mother and trainer, Saphya.
“She gave me a C, C+ for my performance,” he said of his mother’s grade on how he looked in the bout with Martinez. “I didn’t feel like myself to me. I didn’t do a lot of the things we worked on in training camp leading up to the fight. But at the same time, it’s a great feeling to know we went into a fight, and even though I didn’t fight like myself 100%, I was still able to beat an undefeated fighter. That says a lot that at 75%, 80%, I was still able to beat somebody that they consider to be a top boxer, so that’s a good feeling. But yeah, I definitely don’t feel like I did as well as I could’ve done.”
While Douglin is a former National Golden Gloves Champion as an amateur and has long been an established professional prospect, he likely dealt with the most outside the ring distractions that he has ever seen in preparation for this bout. A lot of fanfare comes with performing on the stage of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, but Douglin and his team treated the entire experience like it was just another day at the office.
“It wasn’t hard at all to keep myself focused,” Douglin stated. “We went down to Florida to do a job. Anything that was going on outside of boxing didn’t have any type of effect on me. My focus was 110% on during the training camp leading up to the fight, when we got there, everything. I didn’t get sidetracked by anything.”
Last Friday night also marked the first time that Douglin has gone eight rounds in a bout, but the appearance of his peak 154-pound frame made it very evident that he was in the top shape of his professional life. However, the bright lights of the national spotlight have the ability to make anyone look as if he has slowed down to a degree.
“The nerves caught me a little bit, and I think that’s why I may have looked a little more winded than I actually was,” Douglin reflected. “Eight rounds weren’t difficult at all. When we’re in the gym, when we train, we spar a lot more than that. I’m hitting the bags four-minute rounds for eight to 10 rounds. The eight rounds were a cool experience, but it wasn’t anything that was new to me.”
With the biggest win of his professional career permanently etched onto his record, Douglin now stares into a wide open future of possibilities.
“We’ve already talked as a team about the next fight,” he confirmed. “No later than the end of March, I’m going to be back in the ring. I’m taking a week off just to rest and heal up, but I’m right back in the gym next week. I’m really going to stay active this year. Last year, I only had two fights. The loss really derailed me a little bit and made 2011 an awkward year. We only had two fights, but this year we are looking forward to fighting at least five or six times to get more experience and put myself in a position to fight for a title soon. We’re just trying to stay active.”
There’s an old cliché that says you get out of something what you put into it, but the harsh world of boxing often deters to its own politics and alienates its fighters and fans from achieving what they desire. By jumping at the opportunity to take on an undefeated prospect when nearly the entire sport told him it would be career suicide, Douglin pushed aside the politics and literally took matters into his own hands. And he didn’t just do it for himself. He did it for the fight fans across the globe who feel alienated by a sport they love but forces them to shell out money for PPV cards that never reach the hype that surrounds them before the opening bell. We all know those lopsided “must-see” fights often happen because so many fighters cushion themselves to 20-0 records, taking that route because of the fear that the politics of boxing would bury them should they ever take a loss to worthy competition.
You may call me crazy to think that one young fighter taking one fight against one other up-and-comer could make a difference, but that just proves my point. Not enough fighters and promoters have the internal fortitude to do what Douglin and Martinez did. They are exact examples of what has come up missing in the sport. Back in the heyday of boxing, the best fought the best. The only fear any top fighter had was that someone would question if he was the best, so he took on anyone who could stand in his way of being the king of the land.
Both Douglin and Martinez could have easily set up 10 more easy bouts and battled in two years for a belt, just as I am sure the politicians in the sport had begged them to do. Instead, they inked this deal with the same mindset of fighters in the heyday of boxing, with no fear. Earlier in this editorial, I applauded both Douglin and Martinez for taking a fight that had the make-up of a future world title bout so early in their careers. Now, I want to take the time to thank them. They have proven that once you dig your way through its hard political shell, boxing is very much alive and still has a bright future ahead of it. If you don’t believe me, watch Douglin vs. Martinez again. It has the make-up of what will be a great world title fight in two years.