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New Faces: Amir Imam

15
Jan

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AMIR IMAM
Vital Statistics:
Age:
24
Hometown: Albany, New York
Weight class: Junior welterweight
Height / reach: 5-11 (180 cm)/ 73 inches (185 cm)
Amateur record: 93-11
Turned pro: 2011
Pro record: 15-0, 13 knockouts
Trainer(s): Stacey McKinley, Jaamel Eaddy
Manager: Stacey McKinley
Promoter: Don King Promotions
Twitter: @AmirImamBoxing

Best night of pro career: So far Imam has been highly impressive in his 15 pro bouts. He says his best win is against 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Yordenis Ugas, a former amateur star from Cuba, last May.

“On ESPN against Ugas,” Imam told RingTV.com. “He was the toughest opponent I had fought. He’s got a good (amateur) background and he made me go rounds. All other opponents I’d pretty much got them out of there.”

 

Worst night of pro career: Imam doesn’t believe he’s turned in a bad performance to date.

“I didn’t have one,” he said. “All nights are good for me. Even if I’ve had a bad night, I’ve done what I have to do to get the win.

 

Next fight: Imam kicks off 2015 against aggressive boxer-puncher Fidel Maldonado Jr. on the undercard of Bermane Stiverne’s WBC heavyweight title fight against Deontay Wilder on Saturday. The bout will be shown as part of a Showtime tripleheader (in the U.S.).

Maldonado, a 23-year-old southpaw, hails from New Mexico and has re-established himself after having lost back-to-back fights in 2012, winning six on the bounce and taking his record to 19-2 with 16 knockouts.

A confident Imam respects Maldonado’s ability but believes he’ll showcase his own skills en route to victory.

“He has power, he has a good record, he’s a come-forward guy,” said Imam. “I know he’s going to come to fight but it’s my time to shine. I aint worried about all that, I’m coming to do what I have to, to get the win.”

 

Why he’s a prospect: Imam had a solid amateur career. He won two noteworthy titles at the Silver Gloves and the “Last Chance” tournament. He lost to eventual USA Olympic representative Errol Spence Jr. in qualifying at the trials.

Since turning pro Imam has demonstrated impressive power and good speed.

He trains in Fort Lauderdale with the experienced Stacey McKinley.

McKinley has worked with 30 world titleholders, including a plethora of heavyweight champions – Mike Tyson, Tony Tucker as well as guiding Michael Moorer – middleweight titlist Michael Nunn, and Nicaraguan wildman Ricardo Mayorga. McKinley’s experience will serve Imam well and the two clearly have a great understanding.

“He’s a very exciting figher,” said the veteran trainer. “He’s a cross between Floyd Mayweather’s defense and the offense of Tommy Hearns.

“He’s very explosive and a very exciting fighter. He’s extremely hard working kid, very dedicated, that’s why he’s moved as fast as he has.

Imam has gained valuable seasoning from sparring with former world champions Shawn Porter, Joan Guzman, Khabib Allahkverdiev and Yuriorkis Gamboa.

McKinley says he’s ready to let his fighter of the leash.

“We’ll fight anybody, we tried to fight Adrien Broner, we tried to fight Jessie Vargas; we didn’t turn down anybody. A lot of people don’t want to fight him.”

Why he’s a suspect: Imam seems to possess an exciting blend of talent to go a long way in the sport of boxing. We don’t know how good his chin is or how his stamina is. Those and other intangibles will be tested in the upcoming months.

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In previous decades being promoted by Don King would have been a major plus point, but today with King slowing down, doing less shows and being on the periphery of the sport, it could be seen as more of a weakness.

Imam doesn’t see it that way.

“Don’s still running the game,” he said. “They’re trying to keep him out but as long as me and Bermane get these wins, he’ll be back, right back on Showtime.”

McKinley who has worked with King for decades agrees with his fighter.

“You’ve got to understand Don King is the King,” proclaimed McKinley. “But Don’s not the type of promoter that’s going to waste his money on anybody. He could have gone and around the country and bought up a lot of fighters but the fighters Don sees, Don doesn’t like.

“He doesn’t invest in a fighter that wins a title on Monday and loses it on Friday. He invests his money wisely. He’s waited until the right time and now he has Amir Imam. I think he has the next superstar of boxing.”

Imam couldn’t single out a particular area he needs to improve.

“There’s always room for improvement,” he said, “(I’ll) just keep training day by day and keep learning.”

The confident youngster believes he’s ready to make his move on the division’s best.

“I’m ready for the next level,” he said, “ready to fight the best. I’m only going to find that out when I fight people that’s up there with me. This fight he’s up there with me and I’ll find out what I need to do to improve myself.

“Right now I’m worried about getting this win and showcasing my talent on Showtime.”

 

Story lines: Imam started boxing at 12 years old. He went to the gym with his friends, but as time went by he stuck around and eventually fell in love with the sport. Imam has two older sisters and one younger brother. He likes to keep to himself and doesn’t have a large entourage.

Imam’s nickname is “Young Master” in homage to hall of famer Joe Gans, the legendary “Old Master” and one of the greatest lightweights in history.

Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Don King waxed lyrical about his young prodigy.

“Amir Imam is a great kid and a very exciting fighter, and this is going to be a very exciting fight,” said the hall of fame promoter. “I think Amir is going to be the next Tito Trinidad. He can both box and punch and he is going to be a bad man. I want a title for Amir and this fight with Maldonado is en route to that.”

Fight-by-fight record

2011

Dec. 9 – Joseph Fernandez – TKO4

Nov. 4 – Christian Steele – PTS4

2012

Nov. 16 – Tony Walker – TKO2

Jun. 23 – Kelvin Williams – TKO1

Apr. 14 – John Willoughby – TKO2

Feb. 10 – Devarise Crayton – TKO2

2013

Dec. 20 – Sergio Perez – KO1

Oct. 19 – Jose Luis Rodriguez – TKO2

May 24 – Miguelo Tavares – TKO2

Apr. 12 – Jeremy Bryan – TKO2

Mar. 9 – Alejandro Lebron – RTD2

Feb. 16 – Franklin Frias – TKO2

2014

Dec. 13 – Santos Benavides – KO6

May 10 – Yordenis Ugas – PTS8

Feb. 21 – Jared Robinson – TKO4

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright

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