by David P. Greisman
He is 9-0 with six knockouts, a professional boxer for less than two years, and he is sharing a ring with Antonio Margarito.
JíLeon Love, a 24-year-old middleweight prospect promoted by Lou DiBella, has fought four times this year, including appearances on the undercards to Andre Berto vs. Victor Ortiz, Carl Froch vs. Glen Johnson, and Sergio Martinez vs. Darren Barker.
A couple of weeks after his last fight (a six-round unanimous decision victory over Eddie Hunter), Love made his way from Detroit to Toluca, Mexico, where he has joined Margarito in advance of the former welterweight titleholderís pay-per-view rematch with Miguel Cotto.
BoxingScene.com: How do you think you have grown as a fighter this year?
Love: ďIím just taking things slow. You know, itís a marathon, not a sprint, so Iím just moving at a good pace and just getting the experience I need with the guys Iím fighting.
ďNow Iím just setting up better shots, delivering some pretty good body shots. Iím just breaking my opponents down. Body shots, head shots, jabs. Left hooks to the body, left hook to the heads. The whole nine. Iím just opening up more, showing more punches in my arsenal.Ē
BoxingScene.com: Where do you want to be a year from now, both with how you perform in the ring and also how youíre positioned within the sport?
ďI can step it up in opposition, so next year come January weíll be stepping it up and getting out there with better opponents. I feel Iím ready now. You know, you just want to gain the experience. It isnít no rush, so in the next year, I want to step it up and let the world see who JíLeon Love is.Ē
BoxingScene.com: What do you think you need to work on?
Love: ďI can work on everything. My game, period: defense, more offense, my arsenal of punches, everything. I can always improve. Thereís always room for improvement. Itís just getting the experience I need in different situations in the ring.
ďThatís what Iím gaining here. Iím gaining that good experience. Iím sparring with one of the best fighters in the world, Antonio Margarito, and itís very competitive. That just shows me that Iím ready to step it up now.Ē
BoxingScene.com: What made you decide to go spar with Antonio Margarito?
Love: ďI couldnít pass on the offer, just the experience with Antonio Margarito, getting ready for his second fight with Miguel Cotto on Dec. 3. I got a call and they asked me to come. I definitely said, ĎWhy not get the experience?í
ďThis is going on my second week now. Iíve been out here in Toluca, Mexico, in this crazy altitude, in the mountains. Itís great.Ē
BoxingScene.com: How is Margarito looking?
Love: ďAntonio Margarito is looking spectacular. This dude is a beast. I canít put it no more than that. Dude is a beast.
†ďYou hear things about his eye and heís been around and everything, the whole hand wrap issue. This guy is a beast, and come Dec. 3, Miguel Cotto, he wonít be able to last. I think it may be five rounds, or anything after five rounds may be a stoppage.Ē
BoxingScene.com: In what way is he looking like a beast?
Love: ďJust aggressive. The man is aggressive. He throws some good punches, body punches, uppercuts, the whole nine. And he can take a punch. We all know that. He can take a very good punch.
ďThe guy is relentless. He puts so much pressure on you. The pressure he puts on you, weíre doing six rounds of sparring, a little more than that. For six rounds, this man is putting so much pressure on you. Thatís what I mean by beast. The guy comes forward, doesnít stop, and doesnít stop throwing punches.Ē
BoxingScene.com: What are you learning from him?
Love: ďThis guy throws every punch in the book. Iíve been just working on my game, boxing, and it helps you mentally. You know that youíre sparring one of the best fighters in the world. That just puts you up there. It motivates you and you want to work harder.
ďIím working right next to a former champion and a big name. People love this man in Mexico and all over the world. Iím his main sparring partner, the guy helping him prep for a fight. That really helps me out a lot.Ē
BoxingScene.com: There are a lot of prospects in this sport. Why do you think people should be following you?
Love: ďIím hungry. I want to give the fans what the game is missing. Thereís a lot of actors in the game, you know what I mean? Thereís a lot of guys who just donít fight with their heart no more. They donít give the fans what they want.
ďIím here to give the fans what they want. You buy a fight, and you just know Iím going to fight the whole 12 rounds, whatever it lasts, whatever it is. Just giving the excitement back to boxing, the Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, you know, all those types of fights. Thatís what the game is missing, you know what I mean? Itís kind of scaring the fans away, and itís not giving the fans what they want.
ďThatís what I want to bring back. Thatís why they should definitely follow me, because Iím going to give it all.Ē
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send†questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Miguel Cotto , Antonio Margarito , Cotto vs Margarito , Cotto-Margarito