Though he has already recorded one win in the books since dealing with a suspension for using a banned diuretic prior to his May fight against Gabriel Rosado, super middleweight J’Leon Love looks at 2014 as an opportunity to start fresh.
Love (16-0, 1 NC, 9 knockouts) meets lightly regarded Vladine Biosse (15-2, 7 KOs) in tonight’s 10-round main event at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, N.Y. The bout tops a Mayweather Promotions tripleheader edition of Showtime's ShoBox: The New Generation and Love sees the fight as a step towards securing a world title later in the year.
“I’m looking to graduate from a prospect to a contender in the super middleweight division,” Love told RingTV.com in a phone interview on Thursday.
Love was on the verge of doing just that when he met popular gatekeeper Rosado on last May's pay-per-view undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s dominant victory over Robert Guerrero. Love climbed off the canvas to win a close split-decision over Rosado, though the result was later overturned to a no contest when Love tested positive for the banned diuretic Hydrocholorthiazide.
The positive test resulted in a six-month suspension that Love put behind him with December’s sixth-round knockout of former middleweight title challenger Lajuan Simon, which also took place on ShoBox.
Love is confident the work he got in the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas was better than what he will face Friday night.
“We have so many different guys from our gym and guys that are just into the gym and wanna come down,” said Love.
“My main sparring partner was Jesus Gonzales from Arizona; he’s sparred with Floyd and a lot of people. He’s a very crafty, awkward southpaw himself and was really good work for me and I think he was absolutely much better than the guy I’ll be fighting.”
Love is cognizant of the fact that he’s been gifted with the opportunities he’s received thanks to the man who is behind him, pound-for-pound king Mayweather.
“Being with Floyd, with Al Haymon, the whole Mayweather Promotions crew, it’s definitely a blessing,” said Love.
“You get the best of everything; obviously people know you have more power than most. Not only that, to be in the position you’re in, you want to stay in the position you’re in. You’re an investment, this is a business. If you slack off or turn out to be a bad investment, you could be let go or released.”
Love is also aware that his famous promoter casts a big shadow and the Dearborn Heights, Mich., native looks to climb from under that large shadow.
“Obviously I want to make a name for myself,” said Love. “It’s great to have Floyd Mayweather’s name shining above yours, but he won’t always be in the game. He has like four fights left and he’ll be out of the game and people want to know who is the next best thing.”
“Obviously it is big shoes to fill but I definitely want to solidify my name as a young athlete and a young fighter.”
Love’s difficult 2013 extended beyond what took place in regards to boxing. His brother was killed in Detroit just a few weeks before his bout with Rosado. Love took on the responsibility of his nine nephews and nieces, making sure they were taken care of.
“They’re doing well now, they get whatever they call and ask for, whether it’s the new Playstation or the new Jordans,” said Love.
More than anything, Love looks to be a good role model for all nine of them, proving to them that you can overcome any obstacles that are put in front of you.
“I’m making a name for myself,” said Love. “I went from being in the streets and selling drugs to actually making it as a boxer, which is great. I’m showing them that if you set a goal, you can reach them and nothing is impossible.”
For Love, though those days of hardship are years behind him, they haven’t escaped his memory.
“You can never forget where you come from,” said Love.
“People forget where they come from and then they lose sight, they lose hunger, they lose a lot. I’ve made small mistakes and I’ve made bigger mistakes but I never forgot where I came from. I still work like I don’t have a dollar in my pocket. I still get out there and run. My grind is boxing; my grind is being in that gym trying to perfect my craft.”
As Love continues his grind, he hopes to land a title by year’s end.
“I don’t want to say that I want to fight for a title, but winning a title is my main goal,” said Love.
One thing is for certain, Love will be afforded every opportunity to seize his dreams given the powerful team behind him. Love is confident that tomorrow will be a building block towards that goal rather than a setback on the way to it.
Photo / Jed Jacobsohn-Golden Boy / Getty Images