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Spar Pacquiao? No, Henry

By Steve Kim (Photo © Chris Farina /

In the lead-up to his showdown with Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao has employed the services of Urbano Antillon, Shawn Porter and Jose Luis Castillo as sparring partners, while training in the Philippines. But perhaps the most attention was given to a young man who passed on the opportunity to move around with ’the Pac Man’.
Oftentimes, young, fledgling, prizefighters use these chances to go to training camp with marquee performers as a form of education in ’the sweet science’. But Omar Henry, eschewed Baguio because of his formal eduction.

" At the end of the day I turned down the opportunity because I’m a full-time college student," explained Henry, last week, before this past weekend’s bout in Corpus Christi, Texas." It really conflicted with my schedule and plus I had a fight coming up. The biggest thing, though, was my school schedule, it was the most important thing. What they were offering, I had to drop out of school basically and start back next year. It couldn’t work out that way."

He admits that he thought long and hard about it.
" It was very tempting, actually. It was an honor( to be asked) but school is number one," said Henry, who goes to ACC Central and ACC West Loop currently and then hopes to eventually transfer to the University of Houston-Downtown. About a month ago, the ’net was buzzing about Henry, who was described as a ’Cotto clone’, being brought in by Team Pacquiao. It was basically an unintended viral campaign, where the relatively unknown prospect from Houston, suddenly saw his profile raised.
" I was really amazed, I couldn’t believe it. I went on my Twitter and on my MySpace, I was like,’ Oh, my God, people are really talking about me.’ Half of the stuff was sent to me by messages,’ Hey man, did you know your name was on Boxingscene?  Hey, did you know your name was here?’ I kept going on the websites, I was like,’ Oh my God, all these people are talking about me?’ It was a blessing, still. Everyone had their attention on me. ’Who’s this guy, Omar Henry?’ And once they seen my fights on YouTube and stuff, they were like,’ Wow, this guy can fight.’ It was a blessing that my names out there now," said Henry, who eventually had to give interviews, clarifying that he was not going to be sparring with Pacquiao.
He grew up in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. He migrated to Houston in 2003 to embark on his boxing career.
" I had always been a boxing fan all my life. I always used to watch the fights and stuff like that and I don’t know, I think I was watching some fight on HBO, a Roy Jones fight, I was in complete amazement on what was happening," said Henry, who’s amateur career consisted of 65 bouts." I was like,’ Oh, my God, I want to do this, I can do this, too.’ Because of course, growing up in Chicago I got into plenty of street fights, as well, so it came natural to me. I was like,’ I want to do this.’ From there, I got obsessed with it."
The first gym he ever stepped into was in ’the Windy City’ but in H-town he settled in at the Savannah Boxing Club, which coincidentally happens to be the home of one Juan Diaz, who has already earned his diploma from UH-D.
" He inspires me a great deal," Henry says of ’the Baby Bull’," because I’ve seen that it can be done. I see his hard work in the gym. I’m like, Wow, he can go to school and box?’ I didn’t think that was possible growing up in high school. When I saw he got his degree this year and stuff, that was a big inspiration to me."
Henry, plans to major in Political Science and would one day like to get involved in politics. So in other words, he wants to go from one dirty racket, into another.
As you say this to him, he laughs loudly." I don’t know, man. I’ve just always been interested in politics all my life. As a matter of fact, UH-D was at my school the other day and told me about signing up for this Democratic thing around the Houston area. I’m going to get involved in the politics, already."
But for now, his time and focus is squarely on school and boxing. His days begin at around 5:30 in the morning and don’t end till around 10 at night. He’s either at studying or training. There isn’t time for much else. Which pleases his manager, Cameron Dunkin, who believes that too many young fighters simply have too much free time at their disposal.
" I like it when they’re busy and they have a place to go, something to do from hour to hour," said the respected manager, who’s current roster includes Kelly Pavlik, Nonito Donaire and Steven Luevano." He’s so direct, he knows exactly what he wants to do, what he wants to accomplish. He’s up in the morning and out the door and to the gym and running, going to the gym or going to school. It’s really terrific, I’m telling you, he’s a great kid."
Dunkin gushes over Henry, both on a professional and personal level.
" Just a wonderful kid," he says." So well-spoken and so smart and clean. I was just talking to Jay Johns about him today, just such a pleasure to be around, he’s fun to be around. Just a good, good guy for everybody and a tremendous talent."
While he’s about a year or two away from transferring into UH-D, he’s probably a little further away from graduating into a ten-round fighter. Currently his record stands at 6-0, with five stoppages. Along with Dunkin, he is also under the guidance of Top Rank, considered the best of all the major promotional companies at developing talent.
Brad Goodman, matchmaker for Top Rank says of Henry," Very, very technically sound. Great, offensively, can knock you out with either hand. I say he’s definitely a one-punch knockout artist. I like to just find somebody that’s durable enough to take him rounds. Let’s see if he can go four rounds."
Which is precisely what took place on Saturday night at Whataburger Stadium, as Carlos Aballe took him the four round distance. Henry, though, was able to score a knockdown in the last frame.
Dunkin, one of the best bird-dogs in the business, believes he has one of the most exciting young prospects in the game, stating," He’s a tremendous puncher and he looks like a one-punch knockout artist. But he can box, also. He’s got great speed and strength. he really does a little bit of everything. But right now he’s just hammering people out of there." His style has some people thinking he’s the right handed version of James Kirkland- but without the baggage." Well, a lot of people say he is James Kirkland, let’s wait and see," says Dunkin with a chuckle." Let’s not go crazy, yet."
He’s just 22 years old. The future seems bright- both in and out of the ring.
" I think my boxing is just progressing wonderfully, I can’t ask for anything more," says Henry." Since I’ve signed with Top Rank, I’ve been getting all the fights that I’ve wanted and they’ve taken me far. My manager, Cameron Dunkin and Jay( Johns), they’ve been taking me far. I feel like it’s going great. Especially now with this Pacquiao thing, I’m getting even more attention. So it’s wonderful."
And he hasn’t looked back on his choice to stay put and fulfill his other commitments.
" I don’t regret my decision, I feel like I did the right thing because ironically I became more popular for turning down Manny Pacquiao than I would have if I would’ve went in the first place," he explained." Because I keep hearing,’ Nobody, says no to Pacquiao and he’s the greatest fighter in the world,’ and everybody got pissed like, ’Who’s this Omar Henry guy, turning down Manny Pacquiao?’ I feel like I got a lot of great attention from that. Now everyone has been hitting me up from the Philippines to the U.K., from Australia, everywhere. I didn’t even know that these guys knew me. They’re like,’ Oh, I heard about the Manny Pacquiao thing. Good luck with your career and I’m following you.’ And these are people out of the country.
" So I feel like it’s turned out to be a blessing, actually."
Dan Goossen, who was a guest on the latest installment of ’the Main Event’( which is now archived and ready for pod-cast) stated on Wednesday night that because of Kelly Pavlik’s most recent setback, that Paul Williams will now face either Sergio Martinez or Sergeii Dzinziruk on December 5Th. That date is now a Goossen-Tutor/Heymon Boxing Organization date on HBO. And because of that, the match-up between Joshua Clottey and Carlos Quintana is off the board. In it’s place, according to the veteran promoter, will be heavyweight Chris Arreola in the opener that night.
It’s unfair that both Clottey and Quintana have to suffer this fate, I mean, what did they do, to deserve this fate? But that’s life in the big city, I guess.
Goossen, also mentioned that this show could be moving west.
In this game, you win some, you lose some. Promoter Lou DiBella was sky-high as he was in a position to move his guy( Martinez) into a bout with Williams. His mood wasn’t nearly as good as he found out that he lost a fight on this date when Quintana’s bout was scratched. What made it worse was that he and his fighter found out by reading it on the internet.
Adding insult to injury is that Quintana had been scheduled to fight on this weekend’s show in Puerto Rico alongside Kermit Cintron.
For the record, Henry’s Twitter account is OmarHenry1...Seriously, people still use MySpace?....Hey, was Oh Henry! a good candy bar? I was more of a Snickers and Butterfinger guy, as a youngster....Another edition of ’Boxeo Thompson’ airs tonight on Fox Sports Espanol.... Have you guys been watching that ’30 for 30’ series on ESPN? It’s been excellent. ’Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?’ was outstanding. Can’t lie, I loved that league as a kid and was a big LA Express fan. I actually went to Hershel Walker’s first game as a New Jersey General at the LA Coliseum versus the Express. Long live Eddie ’the Meat Cleaver’ Weaver!!!....So Isiah Thomas is now feuding Magic? Does ’Zeke’ get along with anybody?....This weeks edition of ’the Main Event’ had Goossen, Teddy Atlas and Al Bernstein. It is archived and ready to play....If you have any lingering issues with your Maxboxing account or have a question or comment for me at ’the Main Event’, you can email me at

**This week’s Edition of "The Main Event" Championship Radio with Host, Steve Kim. Click Here


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