12 Rounds With … Justin DeLoach

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Super welterweight contender talks about his PBC on FS1 fight this Saturday night, how trainer Barry Hunter has helped him improve and a new mental approach that comes with fighting for a young family.

Justin DeLoach was among the hottest boxers in a deep 154-pound division before suffering a fifth-round TKO loss to Nathaniel Gallimore last July. DeLoach, 24, had transformed from prospect to contender, going 4-0 with two KOs against opponents who were a combined 57-1-1.

In 2016, DeLoach of Augusta, Georgia defeated three previously unbeaten opponents — Dillon Cook, Junior Castillo and Domonique Dolton.

DeLoach had a second-round KO of southpaw Chris Pearson in February 2017 before the loss to Gallimore. He lost his first fight by third-round TKO to Cesar Vila in February 2015.

“The Chosen One” (17-2, 9 KOs) will end a 10-month ring absence on Saturday against Jeison Rosario (14-1-1, 11 KOs) on FS1 (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Rosario also lost to Gallimore, suffering a sixth-round TKO loss last year.

A victory will keep DeLoach in the conversation with others in the 154-pound division like champions Jarrett Hurd and Jermell Charlo and contenders Julian Williams and Tony Harrison. DeLoach has been preparing for the fight by training with Barry Hunter in Washington, D.C. and sparring with former 154-pound champion Austin Trout—who will meet Charlo for the WBC title on June 9 in Los Angeles.

How have the past 10 months been since your loss?

Well, I’ve got two sons, Josiah, who is 2, and an 11-month old, Jacob, who are a lot of work for my wife, Shenaye, and I. Josiah is potty trained and Jacob just started walking. Jacob’s my athlete and he’s so smart.

They both go to the gym with me. I’ve got videos of it. They’ve kept me settled, stable and focused, and I miss my family a lot. This next dude, Jeison Rosario, is gonna have to pay for that.

Where are you training?

My coach at home is Tyrone Guy, but I’ve been training for about four weeks with Barry Hunter at Headbangers [in Washington, D.C.]

I’ve been Austin Trout’s sparring partner for the Jermell Charlo fight, and that’s been great work. I’ve been working with Dusty Harrison and a couple of other guys.

Why are you training with Barry Hunter?

I’ve known Barry Hunter since the amateurs and I was 8 years old, and I’ve always admired Coach Barry.

Since that’s where Trout’s been training, it’s a way to make his camp my camp also and to go back to my roots. This was perfect timing.

What has it been like to watch the 154-pound division’s activity—the rise of Jarrett Hurd and Jermell Charlo, Julian Williams defeating Gallimore, etc.?

It’s a helluva division. There are so many different styles and so much talent and it’s definitely been a humbling experience to watch what’s been happening. You’ve got to be at your best on any given night.

Erickson Lubin was doing a lot of talking until he had a bad night and got knocked out by Jermell Charlo. Trout and Erislandy Lara had tough losses to Jarrett Hurd. It’s like watching enemies taking out enemies.

This is definitely going to be a revival, the fight that I needed to elevate me to a new level of focus. Super Welterweight contender Justin DeLoach

What did you learn from your loss?

That was just a bad night for Justin DeLoach against Gallimore. I was training for a southpaw, Fernando Guerrero, but he pulled out of the fight like a week before it with an illness. When that happened, I should have pulled out.

I underestimated Nathaniel. Plus, we had just had our baby, and there was some other negativity going on that contributed to my lack of focus. If you looked into my eyes that night, you could see that I wasn’t really there.

I realize that I have to be more disciplined, but at the same time, I also learned about who was really in my corner and who wasn’t. There was so much bad going on around me that I’ve learned that I have to separate myself from all of that negative energy. As a result of that loss, I’ve grown up in a lot of aspects.

What affect will the 10-month ring absence have on you?

I took that time and turned it into my advantage to get myself right mentally. I’ve returned to the old-school approach, back when champions took a loss and got right back into it.

It’s not about the loss, but how you come back from it. The next Justin DeLoach that you see will be a more professional Justin DeLoach.

Having lives to take care of, this has become more personal for me, now, because I have a wife and children that I’m fighting for.

Do you rebound, mentally, in similar fashion to the way you did winning seven straight after losing to Cesar Vila by third-round TKO?

This is definitely going to be a revival, the fight that I needed to elevate me to a new level of focus. I was much younger when the first loss happened and look what I did then. So you can imagine what I’ll do now.

What do you know about your next opponent, Jeison Rosario, a hard puncher coming down in weight?

I’ve watched him over and over. He’s a puncher who has never been more than six rounds or faced any adversity. I’ve been through a lot and I have more experience, so I’m going to capitalize on that.

Is there anything to be gained from comparing his sixth-round stoppage loss to Gallimore to yours?

Definitely. I actually watched my Gallimore fight for the first time the other night, and I saw how, even though I wasn’t focused, I showed a lot of heart, trying to keep on fighting.

I’ve fought Domonique Dolton, Chris Pearson, Dillon Cook and the other Dominican, Junior Castillo, who was undefeated, so I’m definitely the best guy that Rosario’s fought.

I’ve definitely done my homework on Rosario, and I’m a different breed than he is. He is a strong, younger fighter, but I see some quit in him.

Do you have a prediction?

I’m not going to go right out and go after the knockout. I’ll box, set up my opportunities, have fun, take him into deep waters, frustrate him and drown him. He’ll end up folding in about Round 8.

For a closer look at Justin DeLoach, check out his fighter page.

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