12 Rounds With … Austin Dulay

Unbeaten 130-pound prospect Austin Dulay talks about making his TV debut on FS1 this Friday night, juggling work and boxing and learning a few tricks of the trade from some of the sport's top fighters.

Austin Dulay was still an amateur when he met trainers Virgil Hunter and Robert Garcia and sparred with current four-division champion Mikey Garcia and former champion Jesus Cuellar at the Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, California.

Those practice sessions will help Dulay (11-0, 8 KOs) handle his stiffest test to date when he takes on Chris Colbert (7-0, 2 KOs) in a 130-pound bout on the FS1 and FOX Deportes-televised card (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) this Friday, April 13 from the Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The matchup between unbeaten prospects is on the undercard of the main event between welterweight contenders Jamal James and Abel Ramos.

Dulay made his pro debut with a first-round knockout of Raymond Johnson in October 2015. He is coming off a third-round stoppage of Carlos Padilla in August. He trains at the Plex Gym in Houston under Ronnie Shields, working alongside former 154-pound champions Erislandy Lara and Jermall Charlo.

For the Colbert fight, Dulay, 22, worked for the first time with trainer Ahmad “Auk” Alaajiy, older brother of Derrick James, the trainer of 147-pound champion Errol Spence. Dulay worked alongside Spence at R&R Boxing in Dallas.

What is the origin of “Dulay?”

My Dad’s Filipino my Mom’s Italian. I was born in Nashville and we moved briefly to California, where 90 percent of my family is in Los Angeles. We’re spread out, but I live in Nashville, which is my home.

Do you have a boxing idol?

My favorite fighter is Manny Pacquiao. That’s both because he’s Filipino and, like me, he’s a southpaw. Pacquiao is not only a warrior, but he’s also got a great personality.

A true warrior like Pacquiao can be a humble, likeable guy who cares about the world and his people. Pacquiao doesn’t run his mouth as much and lets his hands do the talking.

I feel like I’m the same way. But I pick and choose things from different fighters, trying to utilize them to my advantage.

 What were your experiences with Cuellar?

We were at Robert Garcia’s Gym and I wasn’t even a pro, yet. They asked if I wanted to spar a world champion, and I didn’t know at the time that Cuellar was training for [his eighth-round knockout of southpaw Vic Darchinyan in June 2015.]

I got in there and we probably went 12 rounds. I tried to touch gloves at the beginning and he hit me with an overhand left, so we went into war mode for a while. Things calmed down a little bit and I started to box. He’s tough, strong and it was good work.

You also sparred with Mikey Garcia during that time?

We sparred lots of rounds before I was a pro, and then, also two or three fights after turning pro. That’s some of the best work I’ve ever had. Mikey brings something different to the table, like, this slow pressure.

Mikey’s so precise with his movements it feels like he’s always on your chest, even when he’s not. Those skills are definitely something I want to include in my arsenal.

There’s so much that I am going to bring into the fight. We can box, we can bang, or I can do whatever I have to do to get it done. Unbeaten Featherweight Prospect Austin Dulay

You were close to giving up boxing at 9-0 to work three jobs before being signed last year by Luis DeCubas Jr.?

This will be my third fight with Luis DeCubas, and it was actually a really crazy situation. I had just found out that my wife, Nikki, was having my daughter, Kaia, and we had been paying for all of our fights out of pocket, which was tough.

As a man and a soon-to-be father, I went out and found three jobs. I was going to be doing Fed Ex from 3 a.m. to noon, and then, being a security guard downtown and being a valet who was parking cars after that. I woke up the next day and bought six pair of navy blue sweats and sweaters for work.

I was going to do anything that had to do to take care of my family. I wasn’t going to be able to box, so my dream was going to be crushed and ripped away from me. But when I got home, my Dad was sitting at the kitchen table, grinning.

What did your father tell you?

He said, “You’ll never believe this, but Al Haymon wants to sign you.” That was the blessing of my life and a dream come true for my family.

It’s a gift that allows me to train three times a day without having to work, and now I’m 11-0 and preparing for the biggest fight of my career.

What did you learn, particularly from Erislandy Lara?

Watching Lara, another southpaw, was amazing because I could pick up a lot of things just by visualizing. Lara would stop and tell me a thing or two, helping me to work on it. Shadow boxing and working the bag next to him and Jermall, I learned a lot from them.

Plus, my daughter, Kaia, is almost 2, and she played with Lara’s daughter. [Laughs.]  

How about being in proximity to Spence?

Errol came right back to the gym after [his knockout of Lamont Peterson in January]. We started this camp eight or nine weeks ago. My father’s still my head trainer, with Ahmad being the second. Errol and I haven’t really talked much other than, “Hey, what’s up?” and Derrick telling him who I was.

We worked out side-by-side for about two weeks down there in Dallas.  It was really cool to see Errol hitting the bag and picking up on things. The highlight has been the coaching from Ahmad and Derrick, who will talk, then, Derrick might share a few things for Ahmad to tell me to work on.

I like to come forward throwing and taking shots, but they’ve had me working a lot of Errol’s style. It’s about slick boxing like Errol, cutting the ring off, different hand placements, being calm, targeting the body, setting up and throwing shots when they’re available.

How do you feel about your performance against Padilla, whom you stopped faster than anyone had previously, and what do you know about Colbert?

I dropped Padilla three times, but he was tough and game in an intense fight. They said Padilla hit hard, and that it was going to be my biggest fight. But Colbert is a good boxer who is fast, so I think he could be my toughest fight yet.

But I’ve fought as high as 137 ½ [for a six-round unanimous decision] against [Jose Arturo] Esquivel, and Colbert is coming up to my weight class and I believe that we’re fighting at 132. This is the hardest camp I’ve been through, so I know I’m in shape to go eight rounds.

There’s so much that I am going to bring into the fight. We can box, we can bang, or I can do whatever I have to do to get it done and win the fight. Colbert’s been running his mouth and he’s blocked me on Instagram.

My nickname is “The Dream,” and I know [140-pound prospect] Devin Haney [18-0, 12 KOs] has it also. So maybe one of those days we’ll fight for the right to have that name. I give respect to anybody who steps into the ring, but on April 13, Colbert’s going to have to show me something.

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