The undefeated middleweight prospect has partnered with Children’s Miracle Network, and added a childhood cancer survivor to his team ahead of his April 13 bout on PBC on FS1.
Meet Dei’On Wright, childhood cancer survivor and the newest member to my team. For this fight, I wanted to raise awareness for the #ChildrensMiracleNetwork. Dei’On and his father will be joining my team in MInneapolis for my April 13th fight. #biggerthanboxing pic.twitter.com/hj2tKGGPCi— Joey Spencer (@JSNation_) March 28, 2019
With his well-rounded combat skills and 100% knockout ratio, Joey Spencer (6-0, 6 KOs) has been drawing attention in boxing since turning pro last year. Five of his six bouts have been nationally televised, and he was voted PBC's 2018 Prospect of the Year in a fan poll.
Many of us in Spencer’s shoes might celebrate our hard-earned success with self-indulgence. Instead, Joey is looking beyond what this visibility can do for him, using his platform to make a difference in the lives of others, specifically the most innocent among us.
“There are so many less fortunate kids,” Spencer said. “Kids who are struggling with disease.”
On Saturday, April 13, Spencer takes on Osias Vasquez at the Minneapolis Armory. The bout will be televised on the undercard of the Peter Quillin-Caleb Truax headliner on FS1 (10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT).
Ahead of this fight, Spencer has sponsored Dei’On Wright, an 11-year-old cancer survivor from Flint, Michigan, to raise awareness for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). Dei’On and his family were able to overcome their biggest battle with help from CMN.
CMN works with children’s hospitals nationwide to ensure children in their care receive the best treatment possible. Because insurance plans and Medicare don’t cover the full cost of care, these hospitals rely on donations and community support, which is where CMN comes in.
Spencer, who hails from nearby Linden, felt an instant connection with the young warrior Dei'On.
“We really hit it off, and I loved his story,” Joey said. “He's such a bright kid, so outgoing and full of life.”
When Dei'On was just a few months old, doctors found a Wilms tumor on his kidney that was so large it weighed more than half the baby's total body weight. The surgeons gave young Dei'On a grim 50-50 chance of surviving.
Thanks to CMN, Dei'On not only survived, he’s now cancer-free. Further, Dei’On's father Moe received the help he needed from CMN so that he could channel his energy toward supporting his son during the fight for his life.
“Children’s Miracle Network put everything in place for Moe to be a successful parent with a kid in that condition, to help him get through it,” Spencer said. “He’s an advocate for CMN because he says he wouldn’t have been able to get through—financially, physically or mentally—without that support.”
Joey and his team are taking their sponsorship of Dei'On a step further still by making him a member of Team Spencer.
“ Now that I’ve got a platform, I want to use it. ” Undefeated middleweight prospect - Joey Spencer
“He’ll be with me in the locker room, throughout the whole experience: weigh-in, team dinners, the team after-party,” said Spencer. “I just want him to be right there with me. He’s a big boxing fan, so I want him to have that experience.”
Joey is clearly inspired by Dei’On’s courage and ability to overcome adversity.
“To think the kid had a 50-50 shot to live and seeing now he did beat it. He’s so active—he’s on a basketball team that’s doing great. He’s happy. I just love seeing it.
“It could have ended so young for him, and now here he is today. It’s amazing to me.”
In addition to supporting Children’s Miracle Network with direct donations, fans can also support the cause with purchases of Joey’s fight night T-shirt. All proceeds will go towards CMN.
For 19-year-old Spencer, his desire to help others began at home at a very young age.
“My little brother, Mickel Spencer, is adopted. He came to us when he was about two-years-old. He came from a really rough background, a rough area in Flint. His family life before was pretty awful to say the least. We helped his siblings throughout their lives, so we were involved in the inner city a lot.
“We’ve also done some mission work with our church here in Linden. I took a trip over to Haiti when I was pretty young. We were right in the trenches. I encountered someone we still support to this day named Robinson. He was only about 10-years-old then, living out on the streets by himself. He had some serious injuries, scarring, and things like that just from everyday life, being out in the streets. That always stuck with me.
“We’ve visited Robinson a few times and we also support him through an orphanage that we set him up with over there.”
Though he’s only a handful of fights into his professional career, Joey Spencer has put in years of hard work and discipline to get to where he is today. But through it all, he knew that his achievements and accolades would end up being blessings for more people than just himself and his family.
“Now that I’ve got a platform, I want to use it,” Joey said. “I always thought it would be important for me to use it for something bigger than my own gain.”
For a closer look at Joey Spencer, check out his fighter page.
Anyone can donate money or start a fundraiser to support Children’s Miracle Network, which has raised more than $5 billion since 1983 to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible.
"Outside the Ring" is a regular feature centered on the charitable efforts of PBC fighters. Learn more about what motivates these boxers and the causes they support outside the ring.