Junior Younan, with new promoters, is staying busy and looking for big fights
FREEHOLD, N.J. — After nearly a decade as a professional, Junior Younan believes he may finally be having his moment. The 27-year-old super middleweight from Brooklyn, N.Y. is still an unbeaten fighter at 18-0-1 (11 knockouts), but things have not happened as quickly as one would expect for a child prodigy who turned pro a month after his 18th birthday.
He’s had a stop and start career which has been hampered by inactivity due to promotional issues and the COVID-19 pandemic. But after signing a new promotional deal with GH3 Promotions and Boxlab Promotions, his career finally has the direction it has often lacked.
On July 28, Younan will fight for the second time in a calendar year – something he hasn’t done since 2018 – when he faces Argentinian Abel Nicolas Adriel (27-28-3, 6 KOs) at Caribe Royale in Orlando, Fla. If all goes according to plan in the eight-round bout, Younan says the plan is to fight again in October.
“I think after this year I’ll be ready. I’ll be 20-0, God willing,” said Younan, who nows resides in the Central New Jersey town of Marlboro, N.J. and trains out of Juice Boxx in Freehold, N.J.
“I’m ready for whatever call I get. I’m finally making 168 comfortably again because I’m staying busy and I’m constantly in the gym and I have fights. They can call me for whoever and I’ll take the fight.”
It seemed that Younan was destined for success after an amateur career which saw him win virtually every state and national title that was available in the junior ranks. After coming out the gates with six fights in his first nine months as a pro, Younan fought just once in 2015. He had a busier 2016 with three outings for a total of six rounds, and had the same number of fights in 2017. The following year figured to be a breakout year for him, but he was held to a split draw in a ShoBox showcase fight with Ronald Ellis. Younan contends he deserved the decision there.
Through the inactivity that followed, Younan had his biggest win to date in July of 2022, a first round stoppage of former amateur standout Dauren Yeleussinov at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Afterwards, he touched base with promoter Vito Mielnicki Sr., the GH3 Promotions founder whose son was also fighting on that card, and a deal was struck.
Ironically, it was during the times when the sport was taken away from him that he began to appreciate it the most.
“I feel like you gotta really go through things to really find your purpose. When I was younger, I thought that maybe because this is what I had to do. When you wake up every day and you don’t have anything to do, you’re like damn this sucks, then you find the love again. I feel like the layoffs and everything drove me back to wanting to be the very best in what I do again,” said Younan.
Younan, who is still trained by his father, Sherif Younan, showed off his abs as proof of his fitness. He says he doesn’t spar unless he has a fight coming up, and feels well preserved in the sport. He feels he now has the momentum to get into a big fight with the top names at 168 pounds.
“I would love to fight Caleb Plant. He’s a great fighter but I would love to fight him. I would love to fight [David] Benavidez, everybody’s scared to fight him but if they gave me that call and the money is right, I’ll fight Benavidez,” said Younan.
“I’m always up for a challenge. This is the year that I’m gonna make my mark.”
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].