It’s clear that Domonique Dolton isn’t used to getting any attention.
“Am I sounding alright? People say I’m hard to understand,” he asks. “Only when I’m nervous though.”
The up-and coming junior middleweight happens to be extremely well-spoken, but he wouldn’t have known it. Interview requests haven’t been flooding in, because he’s been a talent people have heard about, but haven’t had a chance to see.
Dolton’s career began at the Kronk Gym in his hometown of Detroit, and was handled by Javon “Sugar” Hill officially until October 26 of this year. The environment gave him the privilege of training with a legend in Emanuel Steward and being a part of training camps for Wladimir Klitschko, Jermain Taylor, Kermit Cintron, Miguel Cotto and others.
Unfortunately, that’s where the privileges seemed to end.
“My career was on hold. I was just being like, a trophy, shown around for sparring and stuff like that,” Dolton told RingTV. “I started telling them like, I’m getting fed up. They start telling me oh, you don’t know about the business. I said listen, man. Fighters sign with a promoter, they get a little money, they start fighting and they get up in the rankings. That’s the way it goes.”
Dolton was getting fights, but not enough for a fighter at an early stage, and they never landed on television. He found slots on deep Klitschko undercards, the off-TV portion of the Evander Holyfield-Sherman Williams pay-per-view bonanza, and a variety of Michigan club shows.
With his career hitting a series of grinding halts, Dolton was forced into leaving an apartment twice, and selling his car three times. Last year, the 23-year old dropped out of college and moved back in with his mother for the first time since he was 17.
“Here I am, 23 years old, professional boxer, moving back with my Mom. I was like, I’m going down, I was supposed to be moving up. So I started calling people myself,” said Dolton (12-0, 7 knockouts).
In June, however, a call would set his career on the right path. Fellow Detroit fighter Isiah Thomas, a cruiserweight prospect who once lived with Dolton, met up with Miami-based promoter Henry Rivalta. The Acquinity Sports head was familiar with the rangy junior middleweight from his time in Florida working with Cotto, and according to the fighter, would have signed him if not for an exorbitant $350,000 price tag suggested by Steward.
Rivalta asked what Dolton’s situation was, and Thomas told him the two of them were “doing bad, in the streets and stuff.” Immediately, the promoter got Dolton’s number and flew him to Fort Lauderdale the next morning at 6:00.
“3D” gave all of his clothes to his little brother, and started a new life in the Acquinity Sports stable.
With that has now come his first television date, a bout this Friday against Richard Gutierrez on the Pursuit Channel in the United States and Fight Network in Canada.
It’s also brought about a whole host of luxuries for an aspiring elite athlete.
For the first time in his career, he has access to a fitness coach and a nutritionist. Three times a week he is engaged in Crossfit, and he’s even learned to like avocado and turkey burgers.
“I probably would have made the Olympic team if I had the conditioning I have now when I was fighting back then,” said Dolton, who fell to Keith Thurman in the 2008 Olympic Trials. “Pretty much with Kronk, we’re known for our hard sparring. I’d go play basketball for a few hours, go swimming and go home — pretty much my own workout as far as conditioning. We didn’t really have the conditioning trainers, we’d just train real hard. Now I’ve got all these different workouts, working these muscles I never ever knew about. It’s taken my confidence to the sky.”
In addition, he has a new legendary figure in his corner, “Irish” Micky Ward. One of the sport’s all-time action heroes, Ward now spends time as an assistant trainer for Dolton and Joan Guzman, who headlines Friday’s event against Khabib Allakhverdiev.
It would seem to be an odd combination, a blood-and-guts warrior teaching a stick-and-move “Hitman-style” boxer. Apparently though, there’s plenty Ward can pass along — his old secret weapon in particular.
“He’s got me throwing that left uppercut so hard. At first, when I’d throw my left hook or left uppercut, I’d kinda go through with it, I didn’t stop it. He showed me how to lock my arm in an L position and throw it and stop it with your shoulder, and use your hips to explode from,” explains Dolton. “Most of my knockouts came from body shots, and now he’s teaching me to punch so much harder. I’m gonna be the black Micky Ward out here.”
As quickly as things have changed for him since June inside and out of the ring, his fortunes have reversed.
Once hoping to make a fight with on a Tuesday night in Toronto with hopes of entering the WBA rankings, he now sits at No. 15.
And once simply a sparring mate for world champions hoping for a promotional contract, Dolton is now in the position to turn both down. He and Rivalta rejected a fight with Roberto Garcia for the interim WBA world junior middleweight title, as Garcia’s backers wanted options on him in the event of a loss.
If Garcia wins said title against Inocente Fiz in Jamaica next weekend, Acquinity Sports hopes to make the fight on their terms in January in Florida.
But Dolton insists he’s in no rush. After years of sitting at a dead end, he’s just happy to be on the road.
“I’m on my way now. I’m not trying to take one step and make it 500 miles,” said Dolton.