Young Boxer Finds Second Chance in Ring

Claude Staten Jr. prepares his hands for boxing practice. (Photo by Sierra Leone Starks/Voices of NY)

Staten spends his mornings at the gym, shadowboxing and sparring. (Photo by Sierra Leone Starks/Voices of NY)

And testing his cardio capability with drills on the boxing bag. (Photo by Sierra Leone Starks/Voices of NY)

Staten’s background is Chinese, Portuguese and Panamanian. (Photo by Sierra Leone Starks/Voices of NY)

Staten (far right) poses at Gleason’s Gym in Dumbo during a Golden Boy Promotions media event. (Photo by Sierra Leone Starks/Voices of NY)

Signs at Gleason’s Gym advertise the September 30 matches at Barclays Center. (Photo by Sierra Leone Starks/Voices of NY)

Staten is hoping to have more reasons to smile on September 30 after his match against Derrick Bivins at the Barclays Center. (Photo by Sierra Leone Starks/Voices of NY)

In the weeks leading up to his second professional boxing match, Claude Staten Jr. spent his mornings at the gym, shadowboxing, sparring and testing his cardio capability with drills on the bags. He plowed through routines of calisthenics and plyometric exercises in the afternoon and 3-to-6 mile runs occupied his summer nights.

It was a routine that demanded endurance, determination and focus – the makings of another win for the young boxer, whose mother is Chinese-Portuguese and father is Panamanian. But the August 19 fight never happened.

“I felt disappointed,” said Staten, who got a phone call three days before the match informing him that his opponent had injured himself while sparring and couldn’t compete. “Obviously, I didn’t want to hear it at first, but things do happen for a reason.”

Though he missed that chance to prove himself in the ring, the 25-year-old prospect will get his opportunity September 30 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“This is bigger than money, bigger than celebrity,” said Staten. “This is me fighting for what no one else can see but me.”

The young boxer’s vision is over seven years in the making. Staten was once a troubled teen who traded a high school diploma for a life on the streets of East Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he lived with his grandmother.

“When I was younger, I got myself into some trouble,” he said, declining to elaborate. “Once I my mistakes and what I put my grandmother through, my choice was to focus on boxing.”

This decision led him to Kingsway Boxing gym in Manhattan where he caught the eye of former pro boxer Lonnie Davis, 46.

Usually, Davis says, he doesn’t make it a point to train other fighters. But he saw something in Staten that made him want to take him under his wing.

“He was eager, a quick learner,” said Davis, of when they met in 2007. “So I told him, ‘You come every day, you train, you do what you’re supposed to do.’”

So Staten did just that, showed up every day and left behind his old life. His amateur career took off and in two years’ time, the Brooklyn native found himself on a plane to Salt Lake City, Utah, to compete in the National Golden Gloves tournament.

“He went to the Golden Glove Nationals with only three amateur fights under his belt,” Davis said. “That’s unheard of.”

“I lacked experience, but I still fought well,” said Staten, who actually lost that first match. “That’s when I realized I was kind of hot, so I said, ‘The sky’s the limit.’” Riding the wave of his Golden Gloves performance, he made the decision to turn pro in 2011.

(Photo by Sierra Leone Starks)

Claude Staten Jr. training on a sparring bag. (Photo by Sierra Leone Starks/Voices of NY)

His first professional boxing match came over two years later, last March, at the Barclays Center, literally blocks from the streets he sought to escape years ago.

For Staten, who won that fight by unanimous decision, it was a full-circle moment.

“To catapult my career in Brooklyn meant everything,” said Staten of his hometown. “This is where the vision started.”

Boxing has taken Staten from Miami to California to Atlanta, where he currently trains. But the Brooklynite keeps his fans updated on social media every step of the way, posting anything from inspirational quotes to letters from his grandmother, even uploading a mini-doc on YouTube, marked with his “Deeper than Boxing” mantra, letting his fans in on the long road to pro boxing.

“I feel that people can look at me and see how honest I am,” said Staten of his fans. When the boxer posted a note to his 2,100 Instagram followers after the cancelled fight in August, many offered supportive comments. “I think that the package that I present, my look, my story, my talent, my ethnic background, people can look at me and identify something in themselves.”

But Davis warns that it won’t be just fans tuning in for Staten’s September 30 match, where he is fighting Derrick Bivins in the bantamweight division (up to 118 lbs.), one of the pre-matches before the featured fights by Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

“I see world champ material inside this guy,” said Davis, but added that it’s up to Claude to show the rest of the world that he can compete. “He already has a little fan base, but he also has everybody else watching him who doesn’t know him.”

“I have a lot to live up to,” Staten said of his next fight. “I’m laying the foundation for consistency.”

“We live in a world where it’s hard to get someone to believe what you say,” he continued. But if you show them, he added, like he did to Davis back in 2007, “it’s a little different. They start to see the vision.”

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