Lem Satterfield

Lem’s latest: De La Hoya, Ward, Russell, Davis recall pro debuts

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Undefeated featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. will be after his third straight stoppage win against Roberto Castaneda on Friday night’s Showtime ShoBox: The New Generation card in the headliner for “Night Of The Olympians,” which will also feature the pro debuts of five standout boxers from the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.

Russell (20-0, 12 knockouts) takes on Castaneda (20-2-1, 15 KOs) as part of an event that will take place at Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, Calif., following appearances by featured Olympians Dominic Breazeale, Marcus Browne, Terrell Gausha, Errol Spence Jr. and Rau’shee Warren.

Super middleweight Gausha meets Dustin Caplinger (2-3, 1 KO), junior middleweight Spence takes on Johnathan Garcia (3-3, 1 KO), cruiserweight Browne faces Codale Ford (2-0), heavyweight Breazeale tackles Curtis Tate (4-3, 4 KOs), and bantamweight Warren fights Luis Rivera (1-2).

Also on the card is a clash of unbeaten junior middleweights between Daquan Arnett (8-0, 5 KOs) and Jeremiah Wiggins (10-0-1, 5 KOs), and one of junior featherweights Manuel Robles (1-0) and Tim Ibarra (2-1).

In interviews below, former Olympians Russell, Oscar De La Hoya, Howard Davis, Raul Marquez, Andre Ward and Antonio Tarver reflect on their professional debuts.


Howard Davis, Gold Medalist, 1976: Davis outpointed Jose Resto over six rounds in his first professional fight at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas on Jan. 15, 1977.

“The fight was nationally televised. I was disappointed because I wanted to fight in front of my hometown fans at the Nassau Coliseum.  Ray Leonard got to turn pro in front of his hometown fans.

“Instead, the fight was in Vegas, and only a couple of hundred, maybe 500 fans showed up. I was very nervous and the nerves didn’t go away until my second pro fight.

“But I beat him silly every round and didn’t let him hit me.  He had no neck, and every time I hit him, I felt like I was breaking my hand.”


Oscar De La Hoya, Gold Medalist, 1992: In his professional debut, De La Hoya registered three knockdowns on the way to a 42-second knockout over Lamar Williams at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Nov. 23, 1992.

“Because I was a fighter who was brought up fighting as a professional-type style, I was actually really looking forward to my pro debut.  I’d been sparring and training with pros like Joey Olivo and Paul Gonzales since I was 13, so I wasn’t nervous at all. 

“Actually, I couldn’t wait. Just the fact I would be wearing eight-ounce gloves without headgear for the first time excited me. Once I got that first fight out of the way, I knew I was on my way.”


Raul Marquez, 1992: Marquez’s first professional fight ended by stoppage against Rafael Rezzaq in the fourth round at the HemisFair Arena in San Antonio, Texas on Oct. 3, 1992.

“It was a big night for me. There was pressure, because I was supposed to be one of the U.S. Olympians who would go on to win a world title. I was nervous, but I was nervous before every fight. 

“There were a lot of friends and family from Houston and Mexico there. I fought a tough guy. I kept knocking him down, and he kept getting up.

“I don’t even remember how many knockdowns I scored. I’ll tell you this, he was much tougher than I had expected for an Olympian making his pro debut.

“One thing I definitely remember: Lou Duva threw me a party afterward at Mi Tierra, a famous restaurant in San Antonio.  There was a mariachi band and everything.”


Gary Russell Jr., 2008: Russell scored a third-round TKO over Antonio Reyes at the Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa, Okla., in his first professional fight on Jan. 16, 2009.

“My pro debut was in Oklahoma on ShoBox, and I remember being excited and a little bit anxious. I had the opportunity to start all over again. I felt like I was having my first amateur fight.

“It was exciting to do something for the first time. My opponent was wearing a suit at the press conference. I remember thinking that wasn’t going to help him in the ring at all. I had full confidence in my ability to beat him.”


Andre Ward, Gold Medalist, 2004: Ward’s first professional victory was a second-round knock out of Chris Molina on Dec. 18, 2004 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“I was more anxious than nervous.  It was Staples Center, on the undercard of Antonio Tarver-Glen Johnson. My fight was televised on premium cable.

“There were huge expectations, and I had a lot to prove even though I had won the gold medal. I also had to prove to myself I could take a shot as a pro. I had an absolute wild man on the other side of the ring. 

“Molina wanted to prove I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. He was throwing bombs, head-butting and yelling at me during the fight. I just had to stay in the moment. I hit him some good shots and he quit.”

Note: Molina, who was 2-0 going in, never fought again.

Antonio Tarver, 1996: In his first pro bout, Tarver scored a second-round knockout over Joaquin Garcia at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia on Feb. 8, 1997.

“I didn’t know what to expect. You take off the headgear, you put on the little gloves. There were a lot of butterflies.  It was like starting over. All jitters.

“I was fighting on national TV on ‘Tuesday Night Fights,’ and at the Blue Horizon, which had a tough, educated crowd. I just wanted to be perfect. I was 28, and a lot of people thought I was too old to be turning pro.

“I fought an undefeated guy who had a good chin. I was so anxious. I don’t know if I did everything I wanted to do. But I still got the award for Knockout of the Night.”




Three-time title-winner and current IBF super middleweight beltholder Carl Froch (29-2-1, 21 KOs) will make the first defense of his belt against Philadelphia’s Yusaf Mack  (31-4, 17 KOs) in an event to be televised in the United States on Integrated Sports Pay Per View starting at 3 pm ET/noon PT from his hometown fans at Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England.

Click here for a promotional video.

Froch returns to the venue of his last fight, when he he dethroned Lucian Bute (31-1, 24 knockouts) by fifth-round stoppage in his last fight in May. The victory over Bute helped Froch to rebound from a loss in December to Andre Ward for the RING, WBA and  WBC belts. Froch’s only other setback was against Mikkel Kessler in April of 2010.

Froch-Mack is a main event promoted by Matchroom Boxing which is entitled, “True Brit.”

Also on the card is light heavyweight Tony Bellew (18-1, 12 KOs), of Liverpool, who has scored knockouts in the fifth and ninth rounds over Danny McIntosh and Edison Miranda in April and last month, respectively, to bounce back from a majority decision loss to WBO beltholder Nathan Cleverly in October of last year.

Bellew has a WBC eliminator bout with Argentina’s hard-hitting Roberto Feliciano Bolonti (30-1, 19 KOs), a winner of 26 consecutive fights who is in pursuit of his sixth straight stoppage win. Bolonti will be fighting outside of his native Buenos Aires for the first time.


Junior lightweight Jerry Belmontes (17-0, 5 KOs), of Corpus Christi, Texas, will pursue his 17th triumph without a loss against Philadelphia’s Teon Kennedy (17-2-2, 7 KOs), of Jamaica, Queens, N.Y., in a 10-rounder on Dec. 8 from the Pearson-McGonigle Hall on the campus of Temple University as part of the NBC Sports Network Fight Night show.

Click here for the promotional video

The main event of the eight-fight card features Philadelphia heavyweight Bryant “By By” Jennings (15-0, 7 KOs) opposite Bowie Tupou (22-2, 16 KOs), of Tongo. The live card begins at 7 p.m., and the NBCSN broadcast will start at 9 p.m. ET.


Kennedy (17-2-2, 7 KOs) is 0-2-1 in his past three bouts, and is coming off June’s fifth-round knockout loss to WBA junior featherweight beltholder and two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs).

Kennedy, 26, was floored five times by Rigondeaux on the undercard of Tim Bradley’s split-decision over Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.


Cuban junior lightweight Rances “Kid Blast” Barthelemy, of Miami, will face Afghani-Canadian Arash Usmanee, of Montreal, in a clash of unbeatens at Magic City Casino, Miami, Fla.

Promoted by Warriors Boxing and Bad Dog Productions, the matchup betwen Barthelemy (17-0, 11 knockouts) and Usmanee (20-0, 10 KOs) will happen on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.

In the co-feature, junior middleweights Jonathan “Mantequilla” Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KOs), of Puerto Rico, will meet Philadelphia’s Derek “Pooh” Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs).

Barthelemy, 26, is one of three siblings who are now professional fighters, with younger brother Leduan (2-0, 2 KOs), who is 23, and older brother, Yan (12-3, 4 KOs), a 2004 Olympic Gold medalist and a 32-year-old southpaw. Leduan and Yan compete as junior featherweights.


Photos by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Emily Harney, Fightwireimages.com

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com


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