By Mike Coppinger
It's been a trying few years for Mike Dallas Jr.
After suffering his first and second pro losses in 2011 (consecutive defeats to Josesito Lopez and Mauricio Herrera, he endured a far worse 2012 outside of the ring. His father and cornerman, Mike Dallas Sr., died in November after losing his battle with Leukemia.
As the calendar turned to 2013, Dallas Jr. (19-2-1, 8 KOs) received a stroke of luck when Hank Lundy was forced to pull out of his Showtime main event with Lucas Matthysse (32-2, 30 KOs). Dallas Jr. readily accepted the challenge without hesitation for his first headline bout, but it's his first foray into the ring without his father in his corner and the odds are stacked against him.
Before I didn't have any experience, now i have more experience," said Dallas Jr., who is trained by reigning Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter. "I'm going to be more smart in there and focus in the ring. Me and Virg have been working on a lot of things. I'll be in good condition come fight time."
Dallas Jr., 26, enters the ring with a heavy heart, but believes the loss will fuel him to the upset victory over one of the biggest punchers in the sport.
"I'm just gonna take my father with me in the ring and give it my all and get this "W" for him," said Dallas Jr. "This is my motivation. This is the first fight he ain't here, it just made me stronger. I know he would like to see my get this, and we talked about this all the time. i want to win a championship not just for me but for him also.
"I'm gonna get the win and shock a lot of people."
Mike Coppinger is a contributor to USA TODAY's boxing coverage. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger