Young prospect Omar Douglas finding success with old-school approach

Omar Douglas is a slight East Coast-based boxer with a crazy long reach, a heavy punch and an undefeated record 15 fights into his career. This is where the similarities to Marvin Hagler end, but not Douglas’ admiration for one of the legends of the sport.

Omar Douglas and Braulio Santos

Omar Douglas, left, dropped Braulio Santos twice on September 15. Santos survived the full 10 rounds, something the victorious Douglas said was good for him. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

“Hagler’s a guy I look up to. He had that work ethic and wasn’t going to let anything stop him,” says Douglas, a 24-year-old resident of Wilmington, Delaware. “I’m a big fan of Roberto Duran’s, and Hagler beat Duran and Thomas Hearns.

“His mindset, like mine, is that it’s a war, and I don’t mind going to those dark places. I would consider myself an old-school fighter in that respect.”

Like Hagler, who sported a 75-inch reach to go along with his 5-foot-9 frame, the 5-foot-7 Douglas is blessed with unusual length for a man his size. It’s an advantage that has carried “Super O” a long way in the ring in his pursuit of a 130-pound world title.

“Omar has a unique build with a short torso, long legs and the arms of a [160-pounder] for a 72-inch reach,” says Stephen Edwards, who advises Douglas. “That’s the reach of a man who’s 6 feet tall.

“And Omar’s physique is really beneficial to his style, which is that of a very heavy-handed pressure technician. Omar rarely gets backed up, and if he does, it’s because he wants to. Every time I see him sparring, he’s always the baddest guy in the ring, giving you the impression that he can go longer than the guy he’s boxing.”

Omar Douglas (15-0, 11 KOs) will showcase his unique skills for the third time this year when he battles Puerto Rican southpaw Frank De Alba (17-1-2, 6 KOs) on December 29. The scheduled 10-rounder serves as the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card from the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (Fox Sports 1, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

De Alba, who dropped his professional debut in January 2011 and hasn’t lost since, figures to provide Douglas with the stiffest challenge of his 4½-year pro career. The biggest difference between the two is that De Alba is more of a boxer-puncher—only six of his 20 fights have ended before the final bell—while Douglas is used to a quick night’s work.

In fact, in his first 14 pro fights, Douglas went as far as eight rounds just once, when he won a narrow unanimous decision over Jesse Carradine in May 2014. He followed that with consecutive first-round knockouts of Osnel Charles (December 2014) and Daniel Attah (April 25).

[Marvin Hagler's] mindset, like mine, is that it’s a war, and I don’t mind going to those dark places. Omar Douglas

Finally, in his most recent bout, “Super O” was taken the limit, working all 10 rounds to earn a unanimous decision over Puerto Rican Braulio Santos in September. Douglas, who floored Santos in both the first and second rounds, says going the distance taught him a valuable lesson.

“I landed some great shots, including a couple of left hooks, and knocked him down with a jab,” he says. “Normally, when I hit guys that way, they’re out. But I learned that not everybody goes to sleep and that I could be patient and win rounds over the 10-round distance.”

He may not get to display it often, but those who work closely with Douglas will tell you one of his greatest strengths is his stamina. Edwards, for one, says Douglas is in such top condition that he could “go the distance in a 15- or 20-round fight.”

That is not to say that Douglas doesn’t enjoy early knockouts like the one against Attah, a veteran of 50 fights who has gone the distance with former champions such as Acelino Freitas, Nate Campbell, Miguel Vazquez and DeMarcus Corley, as well as contender Anthony Peterson and hard-punching prospect Robert Easter.

“A lot of guys that are world champions struggled with him,” Douglas says. “With Attah being a good southpaw, like De Alba, and a hard fighter for people to stop, that was a great experience for me.”

Douglas finished Attah with a stealthy hook to the liver, a punch reminiscent of the old-time fighters he reveres.

“I set him up to the body with this trick that I use, and he fell into the trap. I was throwing a lot of shots to the head, which brought his hands up, and made a move shifting to throw a left hook to the body,” Douglas recalls. “He went down from the body shot.

“A lot of young guys are headhunters, but going to the body shows how smart I am,” he says. “It’s like a return to the old-school guys who really worked you downstairs like Sugar Ray Robinson or Mike McCallum. I love that.”

For complete coverage of Douglas vs De Alba, check out our fight page.

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