New Faces: Tyler Howard
Chris Howard never reached a title shot during his nearly 10-year pro career. His young brother, Tyler, is hell-bent on a different journey.
The power-punching middleweight prospect recently signed with Top Rank and competes for the first time in 2019 on Friday in Hinckley, Minnesota. His eight-round bout against Cristian Olivas will be streamed on ESPN+.
Howard hopes one day soon, he’ll be headlining his own events on ESPN in Nashville. The capital of Tennessee sits approximately 113 miles outside his hometown of Crossville, a city of fewer than 12,000 people.
First, Howard (16-0, 11 knockouts) must continue to finish foes the way he did in his Top Rank audition in July, when he scored a second-round stoppage. The 25-year-0old followed that performance up with a first-round KO in November. As the competition heightens, Howard knows it’s necessary to keep the knockouts coming.
“Obviously right now we can not be content that we are with Top Rank, they have like 60 fighters,” Howard told The Ring. “The fighters they see the most talent in are the ones they put in these TV slots. … My way to Top Rank has been very, very hard but I always believed in myself and my father has believed in me.”
Before he trained his son, Eric Howard was a professional boxer, too. The journeyman retired in 2010 after compiling a record of 11-18-1. He was knocked out by the likes of William Joppy, Curtis Stevens and Jean Pascal during a career that began in 1996.
Then it was Chris’ turn. He competed at 135 and 140 pounds while his father was still boxing and appeared on ESPN’s now defunct Friday Night Fights series. Tyler, with the backing of Top Rank, is confident he’s headed for greater things in the sport.
“Before the end of the year I want to be rated in the top 10 of one of the four (sanctioning) bodies,” said Howard, who was engaged in October. ” … My time is coming. I’m going to keep working hard and keep punching.”
Howard sees an opening on the marketing side, too. There’s just one white American with a titleholder: Caleb Plant, who also hails from Tennessee.
“It’s always nice to have a very good white fighter, we are the minority in the sport, that is no secret to everybody,” Howard acknowledged. “Even the great white fighters today, they’re Russians. We don’t have a lot of great white fighters.”
He hopes to fill that void in a sport that’s always promoted fighters to local communities. Bob Arum and Top Rank are the leaders at building fighters into hometown attractions, and Howard’s manager, Tim Van Newhouse of Split-T Management, is confident Howard is the next one.
“He keeps you on the edge of your seat as he has the power to knock you out at any moment,” Van New House told The Ring. “He’s athletic and fast and has good snap on his jab. He’s charismatic and he’s an overall great person to work with.
“I see a big trajectory for this kid and tonight will determine a lot for his future. Internally there’s some intriguing matches, particularly Ryota Murata, Esquiva Falcao and Rob Brant.”