Friday, May 24, 2024  |


NJ prospect Rajon Chance gets fresh start with new promoter in home state

Photo from Premier Boxing Champions
Fighters Network

This Saturday’s fight is a rare treat for unbeaten prospect Rajon Chance. The 22-year-old from East Orange, N.J. will get to fight in his home state of New Jersey for just the second time as a professional when he faces Martin Diaz of Nicaragua in his first eight-round bout at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, N.J.

For him, it’s just another outing in the ring, as he locks in on the task of securing his eighth professional victory since turning pro a month before the pandemic shut the world down in 2020.

“The energy is a little different, but the only difference I can see is that it’s a crowd that’s going my way. But they’re not in the ring with me,” said the junior featherweight prospect Chance (7-0-1, 5 knockouts).

Saturday’s fight will be the start of a new beginning for Chance. The fight will be the first under new promoter Star Boxing, after years of arranging fights with Premier Boxing Champions through his association with fellow prospect Chris Colbert. Chance said his deal with the New York-based promoter will see him fight four times this year after managing just one bout, a record padding outing last June in Colombia, in 2022.

“That deal is on me. So if I’m successful, it’s my fault. If I’m not successful, it’s my fault. Basically I’m the boss of this,” said Chance, who was a finalist at the 2019 National Golden Gloves.

It’s also an opportunity to show that he’s better than his highest profile outings to date, when he drew with Elon de Jesus in their first meeting in 2021, and then earned a split decision three months later in Newark. Chance says that he sustained a concussion in sparring from a headbutt prior to the first De Jesus fight, and says he was affected the first time he got hit in the fight.

“De Jesus didn’t hit hard, I just wasn’t mentally there. But the second time we fought I made sure I was healthy, made sure I was at least mentally OK. I wasn’t even fully there but I could tell it was going to be a different fight because I had to mentally say, ‘You are not beating me tonight,’” said Chance.

Chance says stepping up to 8 rounds won’t be an issue, since he routinely spars up to 14 rounds in the gym to build his endurance. He says he has had solid work in sparring with pro fighters like Julian Rodriguez and Tevin Farmer. He also says he benefited from having inspirational figures around like experienced pros Shadasia Green, Ian Green and Norman Neely, the latter of whom is a local heavyweight who will also appear on the card, as well as top-rated female amateur Elise Soto, who is the daughter of his conditioning coach and co-manager Veronica Soto.

Against Diaz (18-14-2, 8 KOs) of Managua, Nicaragua, Chance says he expects a tough fighter who is coming to put pressure on him. The 27-year-old Diaz has lost his last three bouts, and is winless in all five of his fights outside of his native country.

His highest profile fight came last April, when he went the distance with unbeaten prospect Albert Bell.

My job is, if I can get him out of there, cool. If I can shine, cool. But the mission is to look beautiful, look fantastic, show that I’m a star,” said Chance.

Head trainer Aroz “Terrific” Gist, who has been involved with his career since he was an amateur, believes Chance has every attribute needed to become a champion, as long as he stays focused and remains patient.

He’s growing, he’s getting stronger, he’s getting faster. Just patience for him, keep beating the guys they put in front of you and stay in the gym and keep working hard. Your time is coming,” said Gist, a former amateur standout best known for guiding Kendall Holt to the WBO junior welterweight title.

“Is he ready for a title right now? No, but he will be soon.”

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].