New Faces: Keandre Gibson
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Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri,
Weight class: Junior Welterweight
Height / reach: 5-10 (178 cm)/ 73 inches (185 cm)
Amateur record: 94-20
Turned pro: 2010
Pro record: 11-0-1, 5 knockouts
Trainer(s): Kenny Adams, Gerald Reed
Manager: Michael Miller
Promoter: Golden Boy Promotions
Best night of pro career: It’s five months since Gibson’s last fight, an eight-round split decision victory over young gatekeeper Jose Hernandez. Though Hernandez record was an unflattering 14-7-1 heading into their encounter, he had a draw on his ledger against future IBF lightweight champion Mickey Bey.
The Las Vegas resident says that is his best win to date for a variety of reasons.
“For the fans, I would say when I fought on Fox Sports,” Gibson told RingTV.com. “It was a good fight, I won a split decision but it was test, it was my first step up fight and I think I handled that well.”
Worst night of pro career: Gibson believes his weakest performance to date was in his pro debut in Oct. 2010 when he met Jamar Hampton.
“I’d say my first fight,” said Gibson. “He actually had a losing record but he had a good amateur background. He was a tough kid. I beat him but he put me down in the first round.”
Next fight: Gibson returns to Fox Sports 1 on Monday against trialhorse Nelson Lara (15-6-4, 8 knockouts) in San Antonio, Texas. The bout takes place on the undercard of the Rocky Juarez-Robinson Castellanos “Golden Boy Live!” main event.
The 31-year-old Nicaraguan-born fighter hasn’t won any of his last six outings but has faced decent opposition. Then-unbeaten Ali Chebah and Alberto Mosquera both knocked Lara out, and most recently the Costa Rica-based journeyman was stopped by Fidel Maldonado Jr.
“He’s a tough guy,” Gibson said of his opponent. “A come forward guy, he fights emotionally, he likes to get hit and comes right back at you.”
Why he’s a prospect: Gibson, who never won a national amateur title, enjoyed marginal success as a senior amateur. As a junior amateur he won the Silver Gloves, Junior Golden Gloves and a bronze at the Junior Olympics.
Gibson fought current professional standouts Sadam Ali, Jessie Vargas and Terence Crawford during his amateur career.
He has enjoyed training and sparring with the likes of Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao and Ruslan Provodnikov. Prior to his last fight he worked with top prospects Jose Ramirez and Frankie Gomez at the Wild Card Boxing Club. Interestingly, Gibson was the chief sparring partner for Canelo Alvarez, working with the Mexican for two-months ahead of the red-head’s ultimately unsuccessful superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Gibson moved to Las Vegas in early December with his wife and daughter where he linked up with respected Kenny Adams, after being advised by Devon Alexander and his manager/trainer Kevin Cunningham to reach out to the veteran trainer.
This will be their first fight together. Gibson is pleased with the new alliance.
“I think we work good together,” he said. “He watched me spar a few times and he said I’m very talented, he likes that I think a lot, I’m a smart fighter. He said I can already fight but where he can add to me is tricks to outsmart and confuse guys in the ring like feinting, setting up power punches. I’m learning the things when you’re trying to take your career to the next level.”
In the time they have worked together, Adams has liked the potential he has seen in his fighter.
“He’s got very good strength, good flexibility,” commented Adams. “I’ve got him pivoting. A lot of guys they don’t seem to have that. He picks (technique) up pretty quick.
“He’s a hard worker, he’s probably one of the better prospects I have started working with as his tools as they are. He spars with (lightweight contender) Sharif (Bogere) and both have their moments. He hangs tough.”
Why he’s a suspect: According to Adams, Gibson stacks up well in most departments though believes he can help him in one key area.
“We need to work on his power,” said the old sage. “It’s pretty good but he’s not getting the maximum out of it. That’s one thing I can work on.”
The fighter believes the experience of sparring with top fighters has helped but there’s nothing like a real fight to hone your skills.
Gibson knows that soon enough he’ll be stepping up to 10 and then 12 rounds, having only been eight so far, it’s a slight concern but one that under Adams he’ll work on.
“Just being focused and being able to get my mindset ready for going 12 rounds,” he said. “I feel it’s a mental thing. I’ve been eight rounds, two or three times but when I went eight rounds I think some day I’m going to have to go 12 rounds, it messes with me in my head.
“I think that’s one thing I need to work on mentally being prepared to go 12 rounds.”
One other concern would appear to be his lack of activity, only fighting 12 times in four years.
Story lines: Gibson comes from a boxing family, his father, uncles and cousins all fought. He doesn’t remember how he became involved.
“I don’t remember how I got to a gym,” said Gibson. “I was never asked to box, my dad took me to the gym one day and after so long of doing it I fell in love with it. I came up in a gym that was in the projects. I saw a lot of kids there who was going to the schools I was going to. The kids that were there inspired me because there was so many kids training and we always trained to be the best in the gym.”
His parents were separated and spent most of his time with his father, who Gibson says was “crazy about boxing.” Two of his three brothers boxed (he also has a sister) though none of them have taken it as far as he has.
“We came up in a boxing environment,” he said of his youth. “It was school and boxing.”
From an early age Gibson focused on boxing, his father often using the tough-love approach.
“My mom used to think my dad was hard on me a lot of the time,” Gibson said, reflecting on his childhood. “When a lot of the kids would be playing outside or having fun my dad had me outside running laps around the park, getting ready for tournaments.
“My family always thought my dad was hard on me but he was just getting me ready and prepared and letting me know about the discipline of being a boxer and if this was something I wanted to do, I had to work hard to be successful. It helped me out as I got older because I have the mentality of working hard. I still think when I’m in the ring but I also keep in mind (that) I (have) to train hard, work hard and run hard, everything I have to do is 100 percent.”
Gibson is a big fan of Sugar Ray Leonard.
“Growing up my dad always sat me down and I always watched fights of Ray Leonard. I thought he had it all. He had punching power, he had hand speed, he had the flashiness, the footwork, the skills and I always wanted to be a fighter like him.”
Oct 9 – Jamar Hampton – PTS 4
Oct. 29 – Tommy Bryant – PTS4
Aug. 12 – Lawrence Hughes – PTS6
Apr. 15 – Matt Schaeffer – KO1
Mar. 26 – Eliseo Valdez – KO7
Jan. 28 – Genaro Mendez – D4
July 7 – Moris Rodriguez – PTS6
Mar. 24 – Christopher Russell – KO3
Jan. 26 – Boyd Henley – PTS8
Aug. 7 – Jose Hernandez – PTS8
May 26 – John Nater – KO4
Mar. 8 – Antonio Wong – TKO4