NJ prospect Robert Terry takes calculated gamble in first ShoBox fight
BAYONNE, N.J. — Robert Terry may be the betting underdog heading into his first nationally televised fight, but his trainer believes this is the right opportunity at the right time.
Bobby Rooney Jr., who has trained the unbeaten 29-year-old for the past 14 years, says there have been other opportunities to fight on television, but he said yes to facing the hard-punching Raul Garcia this Friday at Cache Creek Casino in Brooks, Calif. He feels this eight-round junior middleweight fight, which opens up a ShoBox: The New Generation triple header, is a gamble worth taking.
“I really think Robert beats this guy,” said Rooney, who runs the Bayonne Recreation Gym in Bayonne, N.J. “We’ve had these opportunities against guys that, not that I think he couldn’t beat them, but they were more of a challenge than he was ready for.”
Terry, a native of Jersey City, says he doesn’t watch video of his opponents, because the fighter who shows up on fight night may not be what he saw on YouTube. Instead, Rooney has watched each fight multiple times, and says his fighter has greater speed and the chin to handle the power.
“This is what we worked hard for. We want to show everybody my skills and talent,” added Terry (9-0, 3 knockouts), a native of Jersey City.
Fights may be won in the ring, but oftentimes, they’re made on Boxrec. The 24-year-old Raul Garcia (12-0, 10 KOs) of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic has the far higher knockout percentage, and turned professional 2021 after a reported amateur record of over 150 fights. He signed earlier this year with Sampson Lewkowicz, who helped create big fight opportunities for international talents like Manny Pacquiao, Sergio Martinez and Jeison Rosario.
Terry, who had a respectable amateur career of about 70 fights, including four New Jersey Golden Gloves titles and a 2017 runner-up finish at the National Golden Gloves, turned professional in 2018 but had his career slowed by the pandemic and the absence of a big promoter to finance his career.
After fighting just four times in 2018 and 2019, Terry sat out for nearly three years before fighting five times in 2022. He won his first six bouts by decision before cranking up the power in his last three bouts, scoring stoppages in each of them.
“He’s 9-0 with 3 knockouts, if he was 9-0 with 9 knockouts we probably wouldn’t be having this opportunity on Showtime,” said Rooney.
“The reason the knockouts started to come is because he was in against better fighters. A lot of those guys in the beginning posed no threat, so it didn’t bring out the best in him. Once we got into six round fights against guys with a little more of a skill set, that’s when he had to fight harder.”
For Terry, half the battle with getting his career going has been balancing work life with boxing life. The father of two works overnight shifts as a loss prevention specialist at the Americold Logistics warehouse in Newark, working until the early morning hours before returning home to sleep, and then waking up to train.
Junior middleweight Robert Terry (8-0, 2 KOs) scored his second straight knockout, stopping the experienced Jimmy Williams (18-10-2, 6 KOs) at 2:22 of round 6 at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ pic.twitter.com/fR4YCcDGA8
— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) November 13, 2022
To prepare for this fight, Terry sparred with prospects like Nikita Ababiy (12-0, 6 KOs), Dezmond Lucas (6-1, 3 KOs), Dwyke Flemmings Jr. (3-0, 3 KOs) and Keithland King (3-1, 3 KOs).
What has impressed Rooney is the work that he wasn’t there to witness.
“If Robert tells me he ran eight miles, he ran eight miles. Firemen I know who are out on a call at 2 in the morning will tell me they saw Robert running on Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City,” said Rooney.
Terry is a solid-underdog in the fight, with Draft Kings setting the money line at -260 for Garcia and +200 for Terry. Rooney believes a win here will open eyes, and help them get the opportunities to progress.
“I think this is gonna possibly get him signed and make things a lot easier. Because right now I’m getting him on shows based on the amount of tickets I’m able to sell, but sometimes it costs money. Once we get signed with a promoter that can move him, we can get some more TV appearances and get ranked,” said Rooney.
“I’ve been feeling that it’s just a matter of time for me. I’m progressing every time. It was just the wait. I already pictured things like this in my mind,” added Terry.
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].