As Dierry Jean was lingering around prior to the weigh-in before his last bout, he wore a look of disappointment on his face. Not one of frustration, but closer to boredom. His late-notice opponent, Juan Jesus Rivera, had shown up overweight.
“I’m gonna get him out of there quickly. He’s slow, and he’s not in shape,” Jean remarked at the time.
“Dougy Style” was well beyond this kind of fight, and he knew it. Everyone in his home province of Quebec knew it. Predictably, he demolished Rivera in less than two rounds – less time than it took for him to make it to the ring that night – ending things with a wicked counter right hand.
“If they give me my chance, I’ll prove to the world that I’m better than Danny Garcia. I’m better than Lucas Matthysse too. I just need my chance,” said Jean after the fight.
He doesn’t have that chance yet, but he has a chance to get the chance on Friday night, when he takes on Cleotis Pendarvis in a Showtime-televised IBF junior welterweight title eliminator.
“I believe Dierry is the top pound for pound fighter in Canada. But we’re going to have to prove that. He doesn’t have the world titles yet. It’s just a matter of getting the opportunity, which he has now,” said Jean’s promoter Camille Estephan.
At face-value, that might sound like promoterspeak, but Estephan isn’t the only one who thinks that way. Within Canadian boxing circles, Jean is generally lauded as “the next guy,” and has been given the label of “Mini Jean Pascal” for that reason (and surely because of their shared Haitian background).
There is the assumption that both Pascal and Lucian Bute have passed their peak. Though it is possible that they may not be, and either could land at the top of their division, with every fight they are inching further away from that.
Regardless, they are indisputably the two most popular fighters in the country and among the best live gate draws in boxing period. With their May 25 bout against one another cancelled this week, all of the Canadian boxing media’s attention has swung to the junior welterweight contender instead.
Outside of his homeland though, the stories leading up to the ShoBox telecast have been on Cleotis Pendarvis exclusively. Though Jean (24-0, 16 knockouts) has appeared on American television before on WealthTV, the boxing media that is heavily staffed in the American West Coast is far more familiar with the Los Angeles product.
“Maybe they don’t know me. Maybe that’s why they put Pendarvis in there, but they’re going to find out the truth. Friday, I’m gonna shine. All the world will see the ‘Dougy Style,'” said Jean, 31, Montreal, QC.
Having a talented fighter who is rather anonymous abroad has been a challenge for Estephan at times. He personally funded the Fight Club Series in Quebec, which was designed specifically to give Jean an opportunity to fight and climb up the rankings. Of course, that meant paying for his opponents as well, which have included respected veterans like Francisco Lorenzo and Lanardo Tyner.
It’s an expensive proposition, one he’s embarking on once again with hot lightweight prospect Ghislain Maduma. Love it or hate it, in today’s boxing world, the only road to a return is sometimes through the sanctioning bodies.
After achieving the top ranking in both the WBC and the IBF, Jean waited as six different fighters passed on an eliminator bout with him for various reasons before Pendarvis signed the dotted line.
“I think people know that Dierry is a very, very dangerous fighter, but nobody’s gonna come and say ‘I wanna fight this guy’ unless they have to,” said Estephan. “It’s great to be in an elimination bout, because it becomes mandatory for the champion to face the winner, and we don’t have to deal with people ducking us. Negotiations become a lot easier.”
Theoretically, things won’t get any easier for Jean inside the ring from here on out, but the always nonchalant combatant isn’t about to tell you that. As he talks about this Friday’s contest, he seems more concerned about the order of potatoes on his lunch plate being mashed instead of baked. He believes his skills are beyond this fight too.
“I’ve fought better fighters than Pendarvis. He’s a good boxer. He’s got speed, but he makes a lot of mistakes. I’m going to make him pay for those mistakes. I know I hit harder than him. If I catch him, he’s not gonna get up. He’s got a suspect chin; he’s been down a couple of times. If he goes down with me, he won’t wake up,” said Jean.
Photos / Eye of the Tiger Promotions
Corey Erdman is a staff writer for RingTV.com, a host at Fight Network in Canada, and a regular commentator for WealthTV. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman.