J’Leon Love got a taste of big time boxing months back in Mexico as one of Antonio Margarito’s chief sparring partners. The 24-year-old middleweight helped Margarito prepare for his rematch with Miguel Cotto and gained valuable experience in the process.
Love (9-0, 6 knockouts) hopes to continue that education with his American television debut, when he faces Elie Augustama (5-3, 3 KOs) in a six-rounder on ESPN 2’s Friday Night Fights (9 p.m. ET).
“It was a great camp, wonderful experience, sparring with Antonio Margarito and training beside Brandon Rios,” said Love. “I was just trying to soak up as much as I could. Working in Mexico and training out there, watching Antonio Margarito train, showed me what it takes to be a champion. I added a lot of things that he does to my training. It helped me with my confidence.”
The durable fighter from Detroit, Mich. is hoping to make his mark on the sport in 2012, as he continues to stay active and fight better competition.
“2012 is going to be a good year for stepping up in competition,” said Love, who recently relocated to Las Vegas. “I’m looking to make some serious noise. I’m going to leave it up to my promoter Lou DiBella and my adviser Greg Leon, I have a beautiful team who works together. They get it done.”
Earlier this month, Love had the opportunity to meet with a childhood idol and he learned much from the conversation.
“Marvin Hagler is one of my favorite fighters, I met him at the WBC Convention,” said Love, who fought around 100 amateur contests. “He told me to ‘be destructive and have no respect for anybody’ so that’s what I’m putting in my game – no respect. Respect comes after the fight.
“Marvin Hagler, that’s my style. I have a good arsenal of punches, body shots, head shots. I definitely dish it out, I can take whatever. We’re looking for a great, dominant performance.”
Puerto Ricans Nelson Figueroa and Angel Caiavallo have co-trained Love since his amateur days. He’s learned much from the duo, incorporating their distinctive style into his game.
“We’ve been with each other for a long time so it’s nothing but good things,” said Love. “I throw a lot of body shots, I think I got that from the Latino style. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans both throw a lot of body punches. When I first started I was a big head-hunter, but now I’ve settled down.”
Love is confident that Friday’s bout is a glance of bigger things to come.
“I’m just excited, I want [the fans] to know that I’m serious contender,” said Love. “Not only a future champion, but I’m definitely gonna be bringing some heat. Definitely gonna be a household name, I’m looking forward to a good fight [on Friday]. We’re gonna go ahead and dominate.”