Dierry Jean exudes something that makes people want to get behind him.
When Jean steps into the Underdog Gym in the west end of Montreal, the energy in the gym immediately picks up. In part, it’s because the star pupil of trainer Mike Moffa is in the house, and success breeds success, as they say.
But the junior welterweight contender also has a radiant personality, a smile constantly on his face and a boyish enthusiasm for drills in the gym that few 30-year olds still have. A blend of carefree intensity that just makes others in the building want to attempt the behind-the-back clapping push-ups he’s ripping off on the floor.
“Some of it is natural ability, but when we do anything in the gym, we do it full speed,” said Jean (22-0, 14 knockouts) of his training approach.
Things are finally moving at full speed in his career as well. The Haitian-born Canadian is ranked No. 5 by the WBC and holds the NABF trinket as well. He will look to enter the Top 15 in the WBA this Friday when he faces Ivan Cano in Pointe Claire, Quebec, a card broadcast by The Boxing Channel via free webcast.
He’s even started to garner some attention from the mainstream boxing public, as Showtime boxing analyst Steve Farhood listed him in his Top 10 at 140 pounds during the recent Lucas Matthysse-Olusegun Ajose broadcast.
Optically, it’s easy to see why anyone is high on him. Blazing hand speed, good defensive ability, and athleticism only made more evident by his creative brand of upper body exercise.
Farhood is just the latest recognizable boxing figure to take notice of Jean’s ability. In fact, it was former junior middleweight titlist Joachim Alcine who first spotted him during a visit to his school. Alcine, a fellow Haitian-Canadian, grew up in the same St. Michel neighborhood and was familiar with Jean.
“I dreamed I’d become a boxer, and then the next day, I was playing basketball in high school and he came and asked me and my friend if we wanted to start boxing. I said yes, why not?” remembers Jean.
Having lost both of his parents at an early age, cost was a concern. Jean bounced between his grandparents, aunts and uncles. But Alcine insisted that he could learn the sport for free.
Jean linked up with trainer Mike Moffa, raced through a 55-fight amateur career and turned pro under Groupe Yvon Michel at the age of 24 with little hype or fanfare.
The speedy prospect spent three years on Montreal Casino undercards against hopelessly overmatched opposition. It was clear to his manager, Camille Estephan, that he could beat better fighters, but there was simply no room at the top of the card at Centre Bell where Jean Pascal, Lucian Bute and Adrian Diaconu ruled.
“They had many other guys ahead of him in the promotional company. They were ahead of him in the plans, and he wasn’t getting any opportunities. We felt he had the talent to be as good as any of the other guys, if not better,” said Estephan, who decided to take charge and promote his fighter as well. “He needed to express himself in the ring, against good competition. Sometimes it’s expensive to bring in the guys that are gonna show what you’re made of. So we made the financial commitment to develop his career.”
Soon, “Dougy Style” got his crack as a de facto Centre Bell headliner, dominating Francisco Lorenzo on a special Thursday night attraction. Next, Estephan decided to bankroll the Fight Club Series in Pointe Claire under his Eye of the Tiger promotional banner, designed to give Jean an opportunity to be in the main event and fight more often against solid opposition.
If Moffa has been a father figure to Jean, then Estephan has been a guardian angel.
“Whatever it takes to bring Dougy to the top, Camille will do,” says Moffa with a chuckle, “Camille is a gift.”
For Estephan, who also handles the career of heavyweight contender Bermane Stiverne, it’s a logical investment.
“I really believe Dierry Jean is pound for pound the best fighter in Canada right now. Right now, the ticket sellers happen to be Bute, Pascal, but Dougy is in the league with those guys. To me, at his age, he’s in his prime. I’d put him against any 140-pounder in the world,” said Estephan.
That opportunity may arise soon.
This weekend’s HBO-featured bout between Karim Mayfield and Mauricio Herrera is technically an eliminator for Jean’s NABF strap. At the top of the WBC chain, of which the NABF is a part, is RING junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia.
Certainly, Garcia has more profitable options at the moment, but the plan according his team is to position Jean to fight in a WBC eliminator and use the sanctioning body to possibly force the champion’s hand down the road.
“I watch him, and I know he’s got a nice left hand, but you have to catch me to hurt me. But I know it’s probably not going to happen right away,” Jean said of a Garcia clash, citing DeMarcus Corley and Pier Olivier Cote as more reasonable wish-list foes.
Evidently, Jean has a team willing to help him with that. Now, it’s a matter of charming the fans as well.
Follow Corey Erdman on Twitter @corey_erdman
Jean-Cano can be viewed for free at www.boxingchannel.tv. Erdman and Hall of Famer Al Bernstein will call the action.