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.
J’Leon 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 titleholder’s pay-per-view rematch with Miguel Cotto.
BoxingScene.com: How do you think you have grown as a fighter this year?
Love: “I’m just taking things slow. You know, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so I’m just moving at a good pace and just getting the experience I need with the guys I’m fighting.
“Now I’m just setting up better shots, delivering some pretty good body shots. I’m just breaking my opponents down. Body shots, head shots, jabs. Left hooks to the body, left hook to the heads. The whole nine. I’m just opening up more, showing more punches in my arsenal.”
BoxingScene.com: Where do you want to be a year from now, both with how you perform in the ring and also how you’re positioned within the sport?
“I can step it up in opposition, so next year come January we’ll be stepping it up and getting out there with better opponents. I feel I’m ready now. You know, you just want to gain the experience. It isn’t no rush, so in the next year, I want to step it up and let the world see who J’Leon Love is.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think you need to work on?
Love: “I can work on everything. My game, period: defense, more offense, my arsenal of punches, everything. I can always improve. There’s always room for improvement. It’s just getting the experience I need in different situations in the ring.
“That’s what I’m gaining here. I’m gaining that good experience. I’m sparring with one of the best fighters in the world, Antonio Margarito, and it’s very competitive. That just shows me that I’m ready to step it up now.”
BoxingScene.com: What made you decide to go spar with Antonio Margarito?
Love: “I couldn’t 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, ‘Why not get the experience?’
“This is going on my second week now. I’ve been out here in Toluca, Mexico, in this crazy altitude, in the mountains. It’s great.”
BoxingScene.com: How is Margarito looking?
Love: “Antonio Margarito is looking spectacular. This dude is a beast. I can’t put it no more than that. Dude is a beast.
“You hear things about his eye and he’s been around and everything, the whole hand wrap issue. This guy is a beast, and come Dec. 3, Miguel Cotto, he won’t be able to last. I think it may be five rounds, or anything after five rounds may be a stoppage.”
BoxingScene.com: In what way is he looking like a beast?
Love: “Just 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.
“The guy is relentless. He puts so much pressure on you. The pressure he puts on you, we’re doing six rounds of sparring, a little more than that. For six rounds, this man is putting so much pressure on you. That’s what I mean by beast. The guy comes forward, doesn’t stop, and doesn’t stop throwing punches.”
BoxingScene.com: What are you learning from him?
Love: “This guy throws every punch in the book. I’ve been just working on my game, boxing, and it helps you mentally. You know that you’re sparring one of the best fighters in the world. That just puts you up there. It motivates you and you want to work harder.
“I’m working right next to a former champion and a big name. People love this man in Mexico and all over the world. I’m his main sparring partner, the guy helping him prep for a fight. That really helps me out a lot.”
BoxingScene.com: There are a lot of prospects in this sport. Why do you think people should be following you?
Love: “I’m hungry. I want to give the fans what the game is missing. There’s a lot of actors in the game, you know what I mean? There’s a lot of guys who just don’t fight with their heart no more. They don’t give the fans what they want.
“I’m here to give the fans what they want. You buy a fight, and you just know I’m 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. That’s what the game is missing, you know what I mean? It’s kind of scaring the fans away, and it’s not giving the fans what they want.
“That’s what I want to bring back. That’s why they should definitely follow me, because I’m going to give it all.”
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 [email protected]