On a planet which has seen income inequality rise and the possibility to elevate social class diminish in recent decades, we can be buoyed by the fact that boxing, a true meritocracy, still exists.
As the costs of higher education enter the stratosphere, while the working class’ wages stagnate, it is a relief to some folks, for whom entry isn’t automatic and mastery of lessons aren’t likely in rooms in buildings covered with ivy, that the squared circle still presents as an option for those born with a warrior spirit.
The Halili family has, at least, two of those…
Skender Halili and Enver Halili, Skender’s big bro, will be able to showcase that spirit on March 23, when they fight on a New Jersey card, at the Skylands in Randolph.
No, not against each other, they aren’t THAT warrior-spirited!
I chatted with Skender, age 26 (13-1, 13 knockouts), whose bout, against Jonathan Batista (16-10, 9 KOs), will run delayed on local cable, on an event promoted by Greg Cohen, along with David Schuster.
Halili, as evidenced by the fact that all of his wins have come by stoppage, and by the magic of YouTube (which shows his hellacious brain-rattle special on Jason Thompson last May), is a banger. Halili went down twice in the second, regrouped, and stopped his foe, off a right hand exploder. It was our “Round of the Year,” for the record.
First up, I wanted to know how Skender and Enver (8-0, 2 KOs) compare. Tell me, who of you Kosovo-born hitters is better? “Enver is a slick fighter but can also be the bull,” Skender told me. “I’m more set up for being a big punch-type of fighter. I usually tell people my brother is a fighter that can make you chase your own shadow and I’m the fighter that will make you lay down with your shadow,” he chuckled. “He is the better fighter, one hundred percent!”
But Skender has more fights and more pop, so he will headline. What does he know of Batista? “From the DR, he’s been in with a lot of good fighters; he did very well against Kermit Cintron back in 2013,” Skender said. “He is a bit of a dirty fighter, has been disqualified a few times, so it will not come as a shock to me. I’m mentally prepared for a rough fight. I’m sure we will have a great ref watching closely. I should take care of business but, in this sport, all it takes is one punch to turn things around, so I do not take any of my opponents lightly! I’m really excited to be headlining the card. I might even give myself the nickname ‘Skender ‘Headlining’ Halili’! What I’m really excited about is my brother will be fighting. Me and him are like thunder and lightning, so bring your umbrellas; it could be a rainy night and fight!”
He cracked himself up. You have to love his (slightly cornball) sense of humor…
“Great card, great promoters, I couldn’t be more excited about it,” he continued. “I feel I will have a tough opponent in front of me but the hard work has been put in. Now it’s time to let it show!”
The Halilis live in da Bronx and Skender says the hood is great. “My family and I are doing well; we help each other. There are some struggles we face but doesn’t everyone? Hopefully we see better days ahead of us. We are all working hard to create a better life for each other.”
You have to love Michael Woods‘ way-over-the-top cornball sense of humor. If Woodsy can laugh at himself, it keeps him from blowing a gasket when he reads the politics section of The Times.
You can subscribe to the print and digital editions of THE RING Magazine by clicking the banner or here. You can also order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page. On the cover this month: THE RING reveals The Greatest Heavyweight of All Time.
Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news, events and deals in your inbox!