Karl Dargan (left) lands a right hand against Rynell Griffin at Club Nokia on Sept. 24, 2009 in Los Angeles, Cali. Dargan won the bout by decision.
High expectations have followed Karl Dargan’s career since he turned professional in 2007. Coming from a boxing family that includes trainer/cousin Naazim Richardson, brother Mike Dargan and cousins Tiger and Rock Allen, the former amateur star from Philadelphia, Pa., has a reputation that precedes him.
Matters have moved slow thus far for the 28-year-old Dargan (13-0, 7 knockouts) due to inactivity, but a win on Saturday night against fellow unbeaten prospect Michael Brooks (10-0-1, 2 KOs) at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, N.Y. would be a big leap forward in his career.
The fight will be the co-featured bout to the Vyacheslav Glazkov-Garrett Wilson main event, which will be televised by NBC beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
RingTV.com spoke with Dargan about his motivations for fighting, having Bernard Hopkins as a mentor and being trained by one of the sport’s mental giants.
RingTV.com: Tell me about this fight with Mike Brooks. You’re both undefeated fighters, one guy takes a step forward and the other takes a step back. What do you have to say about your opponent?
Karl Dargan: It’s great exposure. That’s what I love about (being signed to promoter) Main Events. As far as the opponent Mike Brooks. I don’t know too much about him. All I know is that he’s undefeated; he’s a young prospect like myself. He’s undefeated with 10 fights so I know he’s on top of his game and I know he’s not no walk in the park.
RTV: How did you first got started in boxing?
KD: As far as starting out boxing, I was about 7. I would go to the gym but I would never train. I would go to watch my cousins Tiger and Rock Allen and my brother Mike Dargan. The only reason I would go to the gym was because I was on punishment a lot. The only way I can go outside was to go to the gym. Brother Naazim [Richardson] caught on to what I was doing and said, ‘You come to the gym only when you’re on punishment.’
I would sit in a chair and just talk to my cousins and my brother and tell them what to do, that they’re doing it wrong. Brother Naazim caught me a couple of times, like ‘Why are you talking to my fighters? Don’t tell my fighters what to do. If you know how to do, then get up here and do it. If you want to show them how to do it, then do it.’ That’s how I started fighting.
RTV: As your uncle, is Naazim Richardson harder on you than on his other fighters, or easier?
KD: Actually he’s my cousin, but because he’s so much older I just call him my uncle. We have chemistry. I understand him and we talk. Of course he’s going to be hard because it’s a serious game. From the amateurs, it turns from a sport into a business when you turn pro. When you turn pro, it becomes a business and a lifestyle because you have to be able to switch over from a sport to this is the way you live.
Of course there’s certain things he’s hard on me about, but we have a chemistry. I understand the things he wants me to do and why he wants me to do it. If I have any problems with it, I ask and he gives me solutions.
RTV: Being related to someone as connected in the game as is Naazim Richardson must afford you plenty of opportunities to learn from some high-profile boxers. Who have been some of your mentors?
KD: Bernard Hopkins, I’ve been around Bernard Hopkins since I was 10 years old. Also, Shane Mosley, usually when I’ve had important fights in my life, I go to his house in Big Bear (California) and I hold training camp there. He’s a good friend, and when I’m here at his house training with him, he talks to me, teaches me little things. It’s been basically him and Bernard.
As far as Danny Garcia, he’s experienced on a world championship level also, that’s my homey. We’ve been like aces since 8-9 years old. I learned from him, he learned from me. Most any successful fighter in Philly, we grew up together unless they’re much older. I learned a lot from Bernard, I learned a lot from him other than boxing by just being around him. He’s been inspirational otherwise.
RTV: What are some of the things that Bernard Hopkins has taught you?
KD: He told me that boxing is a lifestyle. You have to live boxing every day. You can’t go one day without doing something concerning boxing, at least for an hour. If you do, then that’s not your life. You’ve got to live boxing. You can’t just be a boxer or be a professional fighter, you’ve got to live it.
I think he told me a while ago, ‘The reason why I’m able to do the things that I do at such an old age, when I’m training, if I’m not training for a fight, I still train every week. Even if it’s not every day; it’s my lifestyle. A lot of people don’t start training or get in shape until they get a fight date. Me, I’m always in shape. Camp should be about strategizing. A lot of people use camp for dropping the weight, not being disciplined. You can’t focus on dropping the weight and focus on strategizing also.
RTV: What is it that motivates you to be successful in your chosen profession?
KD: Man, I got three kids. Boxing is something that I like to do, I have fun. I can’t look at it as fun but I have fun doing. As a little kid growing up in the heart of North Philly, in the Strawberry Mansion section, one of the worst neighborhoods in the U.S. Me being around the people I was around, who wouldn’t like to get paid for beating people up?
Photos / Jacob de Golish-Getty Images, Omar Torres-AFP
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to The Ring magazine and GMA News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.