One of the hottest prospects in the game, undefeated light heavyweight prospect Atif Oberlton is mixing new school flair with old-school, Philly-style toughness.
Growing up tough
Atif Oberlton credits his parents for their guidance within rough areas of Philadelphia where crime and bloodshed threatened lives.
“Growing up in Philadelphia was tough just like any big inner city life. There was a lot of violence and danger to turn to. It’s a world tempting you to make bad, life-threatening decisions,” Oberlton said.
“But I have the best parents ever, and they want the best for me. I also have a loving sister who is smart and a person I can always talk to about life. So I chose another route because I had the luxury of being guided and finding what I love to do at an early age.”
A young Oberlton noticed a pair of boxing gloves in his home which belonged to an uncle.
“I was on a football team as a defensive lineman, and I started getting into fights,” Oberlton said. “So they sent me to the basement of a recreation center where they had boxing. I began boxing at the age of 9.”
Oberlton began competing as a 14-year-old, achieving high marks as an amateur.
Oberton won crowns in the 2014 National Junior Olympics, 2016 and 2018 National Golden Gloves as well as the 2018 Eastern Elite Qualifier, and was a runner-up at the 2016 Youth Open, 2018 Elite National Championships and 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
“My favorite boxers off the top of my head are Pernell Whitaker, Marvin Hagler, James Toney, Emanuel Agustus, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Mike Tyson,” said Oberlton, a southpaw.
“No disrespect to any other boxers, but to say the least, they are some of the greats. Fighting for me is mental, physical and spiritual, and I take something from every single one of these immortal fighters.”
Oberlton’s nickname, “Lord Pretty Calvo,” is derived from a song by admired rapper, A$AP Rocky, who has a song, “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye.”
“The inspiration was A$AP Rocky the rapper. It made sense because I’m pretty, and ‘Calvo’ means bald in Spanish,” Oberlton said. “My name, ‘Atif,’ means the kind or compassionate one,’ which is the person I am outside of the ring. But my middle name is ‘Rashid,’ which is the guy I am inside of the ring.”
Rashid in Arabic is given to one who is “rightly guided, having the true faith” and “the high one.”
“In the ring, I’m all business,” Oberlton said. “I’m a compassionate warrior.”
A Proud Southpaw
Oberlton’s professional debut in January 2021 was a third-round stoppage of Nathan Davis Sharp, who entered at 4-2 (4 KOs) and was knocked out for the first time.
Sharp was the first of Oberlton’s four stoppages that year comprising those in the third, fifth and second rounds over Larry Prior (May), Jasper McCargo (June) and Brent Oren (November).
“There a lot of great southpaws who have made history in boxing,” said Oberlton, who has listed among his idols, left-handers Whitaker and Hagler. “I believe that I would be a great fighter regardless of the stance, but I do take pride in being a southpaw.”
Oberlton stopped two of three rivals in 2022, a six-round unanimous decision over Robert Burwell (August) splitting second-round TKOs of Ernest Amuzu (January) and Christian Thomas (October). Amuzu entered at 26-5 (22 KOs), and Thomas at 11-0 (9 KOs).
On January 20, 2023, Oberlton took on his toughest test to date against 12-0 (11 KOs) Artem Brusov. Oberlton passed with flying colors, dominating Brusov to win an eight-round unanimous decision. Oberlton beat Brusov on the scorecards of judges Dewey LaRosa (78-74), Anthony Lundy (78-74) and Steve Weisfeld (79-73).
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