Looking at DonYil Livingston’s record on BoxRec.com, one would assume that his most important fight was his six-round unanimous decision over fellow unbeaten middleweight Kurtiss Colvin on the undercard of the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson light heavyweight championship last October.
With a late start to the pro game and without the backing of a major promoter or manager, Livingston (8-0-1, 4 knockouts) needed an impressive victory over a formidable opponent – which Colvin, 6-0 with 5 KOs coming in, appeared to be – in order for boxing writers to consider him a “prospect.” He made his statement by containing the aggressive Texan in front of the national boxing media on an HBO Pay-Per-View undercard at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
However, the 27-year-old native of Tulsa, Okla., who now lives in Palmdale, Calif., doesn’t view the Colvin victory as the most important fight of his career so far. That designation goes to his previous bout, a six-round split draw against journeyman Roberto Yong last August.
“I honestly feel the fight where I picked up a draw was my most important fight in terms of learning,” said Livingston, who takes on another rugged journeyman in Elie Augustama on Saturday (March 31) at the Warner Center in Woodland Hills, Calif. “I learned that I can’t overlook any opponent or judge them by their records.
“Colvin was undefeated but I don’t think he really made for a hard fight. I felt in control the whole fight with Colvin. I staggered him in the first round and controlled him with my jab. It was a good fight, and it was good for my career, as far as going to the next level, but I didn’t learn much from it.
“The Yong fight was my first six-round bout. I thought I was going to take him into deep water and come on strong in the last two rounds. So I gave up the first half of the fight, thinking he would get tired and that I would take over. I did, but he didn’t’ stop fighting. Hearing the draw announced after the fight was almost like losing. It was a hard lesson, but now I know there’s no more ‘feeling out’ rounds at the start of a fight.”
After ending an extensive amateur career that included numerous junior, regional and national titles, in 2004, Livingston had a prolonged “feeling out” period before committing to the professional ranks. It was a frustrating time in his life.
“I knew I wanted to go pro, but I didn’t want to rush into a bad situation or be used as an opponent,” said Livingston, who compiled an impressive 178-23 amateur record. “Getting started wasn’t easy, and I didn’t expect to be easy after taking more than two years off, but I thought it would happen a lot quicker with my amateur background.”
He thought wrong. Livingston was too old for notable managers to back him and his weight class was a little heavy to get regular work on the Southern California club show circuit, which is dominated by lighter-weight fighters. Still, he believed he had a future in the sport and wasn’t afraid to represent himself. However, Livingston – who was signed by upstart promotional outfit Boxing 360 in early 2011 – admits that going it alone was a lot of hard work.
“I managed to get two bouts on my own and it was definitely a struggle,” Livingston said. “I used to email and call every single promoter and matchmaker in the area every day looking for a fight. I was calling so much they recognized my voice. ‘Oh hello, DonYil, no I don’t have a fight for you on this card.’ Man, I’m glad that’s over.”
Boxing 360, a New York-based company founded in 2009 by Dr. Mario Yagobi, now takes care of the grunt work of getting Livingston on local fight cards. He fought six times last year. The fight with Augustama will be his second bout of 2012.
“Mario is working with Steve Bash (promoter of the March 31 show), which is helping me stay busy and get more exposure,” Livingston said. “I fought on one of Bash’s cards in my last bout (against Michael Walker in January) and it was packed house and a great environment. I’m looking forward to getting this win and moving on to eight-round bouts and hopefully televised fights by the end of the year.”