By John J. Raspanti
"The best won’t fight me"
A record can be misleading.
Darnell “Deezol” Boone has had 50 professional fights. Although he’s won half of them, getting a fight with a top-tier opponent seems virtually impossible for the Youngstown, OH. native.
The reasons are simple. Boone always comes to win, and he can fight.
Two years ago, Boone faced undefeated Phillip Jackson Benson. Jackson Benson entered the squared circle that night riding a 12-fight win streak--including 10 consecutive knockouts.
He undoubtedly was aware of Boone’s misleading record. Probably figured he could beat Boone with one hand tied behind his back.
Jackson Benson was a touch overconfident. He did pretty well in the ring that night for five rounds.
Then came the fatal sixth. Boone played a game of possum with his young opponent, waiting for the right moment to unleash his big right hand.
In the blink of an eye, Boone saw his opening.
He let fly with the right.
The punch landed flush on the chin.
Goodnight, Jackson Benson.
Boone has taken on a lot of fighters since first entering the ring 13 years ago.
Wait! A lot of good fighters.
Boone, 37, sent a guy by the name of Andre Ward to the canvas in 2005.
Ward got up to win, but he knew he had been in a tough fight. Boone has lost three split decisions, one of them to former light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovelov, and engaged in four draws.
Boone calls himself “Deezol” but could easily go by “Rocky” or “The Road Warrior" since he travels to an opponent’s home turf, usually on short notice.
He’s supposed to lose. Doesn’t always happen.
Boone has ended the winning streaks of Chris Archer, James Countryman, Willie Monroe Jr, James Johnson, and Adonis Stevenson, who just happens to be the reigning WBC light heavyweight champion.
Last year, he ventured to Florida and stopped favored Dionisio Miranda.
Boone has been on the short end of at least a half dozen dubious verdicts, but the Atlanta resident remains upbeat.
"I’m not bitter about the bad decisions,” Boone told this writer last year. "With boxing, you always get another chance."
Boone’s next chance will be Feb.25 when he takes on the much younger Luis Ramon Nicholas at the Blaine Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota.
As usual. Boone is the underdog. As always, he’s determined.
"Every fight is big to me,” said Boone. “I treat them all as if they’re championship fights."
Boone almost bagged a championship match last year but the fight fell through at the last minute.
"I’m looking to fight for a title this year,” Boone said. “If these guys quit chickening out."
Boone turned professional in 2004 when he was 24 with only 10 amateur matches under his belt.
It’s been on-the-job training ever since.
"I didn’t have a big amateur career,” Boone said. "The stuff I was supposed to learn then, I didn’t. I was rushed because of my age.
"But I feel like I’m always improving, I find something out about myself every day."
As much as he loves to box, Boone has faced one disappointment after another due to management issues and postponements.
He was so frustrated a few years ago that he almost retired.
"There have been times when I wanted to hang up the gloves, “said Boone.” But I keep going to show fans and family, that no matter how tough it gets, you can still pull an upset.
"That’s not just in boxing. That’s life," he added.
Even with all the disappointments, Boone’s passion for the "sweet science" remains.
"Everything starts on February twenty-fifth,” Boone said. "I’m more focused than ever. The hunger is back. These guys can’t hide forever. I’m tired of working so hard and being robbed. I have to do everything in my power to not fall victim to it again.
"Those guys are going to see the most dangerous Darnell Boone ever."
Boone is a fighter in more ways than one.
"Those guys" better not underestimate him.