David Morrell Jr: I Want Everybody to See that I’m the Best

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The unbeaten rising super middleweight star is on a mission to make a statement when he defends his title versus hard-hitting Sena Agbeko Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.

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Morrell vs Agbeko PREVIEW: December 16, 2023 | PBC on SHOWTIME

Luis DeCubas Sr. has worked with many of the best Cuban fighters over the past several decades, including accomplished champions like Joel Casamayor, Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Who’s the most gifted of the bunch from his perspective? David Morrell Jr.

The unbeaten WBA 168-pound world titleholder will face Sena Agbeko on Saturday night at The Armory in Minneapolis on the final episode of SHOWTIME Championship Boxing (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

“Casamayor is the best Cuban fighter since the Castro days,” DeCubas said on Monday. “I think he’s proven that. Rigondeaux was very good, a two-time gold medalist. But David is the most talented Cuban fighter I’ve ever worked with.”

“… He’s got the dedication, the drive and desire, the talent. He can punch with both hands. I’ve been in boxing for 40 years. David is one of the best I’ve seen [period], forget Cubans.”

That’s high praise for a 25-year-old fighter with only nine professional fights. Obviously, Morrell (9-0, 8 KOs) is no ordinary fighter, however.

DeCubas remembers when he first laid eyes on Morrell. He was shown a tape of a fight between a 17-year-old Morrell and Cuban amateur legend Julio Cesar La Cruz, a two-time Olympic champion about a decade older than his young rival.

Morrell lost by a disputed decision but DeCubas was sold on him instantaneously.

“I watched a 17-year-old kid dominate a two-time gold medal winner,” DeCubas said. “… Eighty percent of the comments [on the video] said the kid got robbed. They had to send La Cruz to [the 2016 Olympics in] Brazil. It was a political thing.

“I was amazed. I worked with (Roberto) Duran, Wilfredo Gomez, Eusebio Pedroza. David reminded me of a southpaw Carlos Monzon, with better defense than Monzon.”

Again, high praise. Monzon is considered an all-time great.

Respected trainer Ronnie Shields has worked with Morrell for his last four fights, all knockout victories. And he understands exactly where DeCubas is coming from.

Morrell reportedly was 130-2 as an amateur but had only five pro fights when he walked into Shield’s gym in Houston for the first time. He knew the young man was gifted. Still, he was stunned at what he saw.

He said his protégé was “just born to be a fighter.”

“I couldn’t believe how good he was,” said Shields, who worked with Rigondeaux and Lara. “I saw everything in him after just five fights. I couldn’t believe it. And once I started working him, he caught on really quickly to everything I was trying to teach him. He’s really, really good at so many different things.

“Cubans are known for being boxers who stay on the outside, not engaging. David is different. He loves to fight. He’ll box when he has to box but he likes to go get it.”

I have to be ready to fill those shoes that are hard to fill. Undefeated WBA Super Middleweight Titlist - David Morrell Jr.

Morrell is flattered by the confidence his handlers have in him but he doesn’t allow it to go to his head, which could cause him to lose focus.

He knows as well as anyone that he has unusual talent. He also knows that God-given gifts will only take a fighter so far if he doesn’t add discipline to the equation.

He learned from an older brother when he was a child, with dreams of becoming a great boxer, that there were three prerequisites for anyone to become the best at what they do: “Hard work, hard work, hard work.”

That’s why he was willing to live and train in Minneapolis – where he knew no one and never adjusted to the cold weather – the first few years of his pro career. And it’s why he now travels to Houston from his new home in West Palm Beach, Florida, to work with Shields.

He’s all in.

“[DeCubas] always gives me positive feedback,” Morrell said. “He tells me all these great things. He tells me I have to keep growing, I have to be ready. I have to be ready to fill those shoes that are hard to fill.”

Morrell appears to be ready. Ready for Agbeko, a capable veteran from Ghana. And ready for the matchups that could define his career.

He has pushed hard for a fight with undefeated two-time super middleweight world champion David Benavidez, who is coming off a sensational knockout of Demetrius Andrade on Nov. 25. And, of course, he’d love to face the ultimate test at super middleweight: Canelo Alvarez.

He didn’t want to talk much about Benavidez, saying, “Everybody knows I want to fight him.” He was focused on Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs) only five days before the fight.

But he did make it clear that showdowns with Benavidez, Alvarez and the other top figures in the sport are imperative for him to fulfill his destiny. How else is he going to prove DeCubas and Shields right?

“I want everybody to see that I’m the best,” he said. “And to say I’m the best I have to fight everybody. My dad told me that, old school, you needed to fight No. 10, No. 9, No. 8 and then [on to] the first one.

“When you [defeat] the best in the division, then you can say, ‘Now I’m the best.’ That’s what I want.”

For a closer look at David Morrell Jr, check out his fighter page. 

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