By Jake Donovan
You’ll have to pardon Amir Mansour for his overload of confidence heading into this weekend’s showdown with Kelvin Price. The 42-year old heavyweight prospect – yes, you read that correctly – continues to make up for lost time, accepting any assignment thrown his way as he knows time isn’t exactly on his side.
It’s not often that a fighter whose pro debut came more than 16 years ago is still in the building stages of his career. The unbeaten Delaware native has led a rough life, which several stints in prison combining for nearly 17 years behind bars—or as he puts it, “almost half of my life.”
Saturday marks his fourth fight in 2013, after missing out on 2012 due to a parole violation. Prior to that came a ring return in 2010 following more than 8 ½ years due to a controlled substance charge.
Knowing the life he lead, hearing the sob stories of others doesn’t immediately leave him impressed, or even sympathetic.
“Everyone has a story of getting through obstacles, trials and tribulations. Eight years in prison, honestly 16 years and 7 months in prison, almost half of my life. Nobody is going to outwork me in the ring,” insists Mansour (19-0, 14KO), whose scheduled 10-round clash with Price airs live Saturday evening on NBC Sports Network.
During Thursday’s press conference to promote this weekend’s show, Mansour listened to his opponent talk about the long journey transitioning from basketball–having played in the NBA’s Developmental League as well as overseas—to the sweet science. To that, he shared his own tales, including true survival well beyond the world of sports.
“I didn't grow up playing basketball or football. I grew up fighting. I survived 10'x'10' cells fighting guys with knives,” Mansour revealed in a past of which he’s not particular fond, but knows it helped shape him into the man he’s become. “Nobody with gloves in the ring is going to deny me. If he ain't got a 9MM, he ain't going to stop me.”
While not offering an official prediction on Saturday’s affair, Mansour made an indirect guarantee in the form of lending assistance to a friend.
Former cruiserweight champ Steve Cunningham, fighting for the first time since a knockout loss to Tyson Fury earlier this year, is scheduled to appear on the non-televised portion of the undercard. His bout will make its way to the telecast only if time permits.
“Steve, I got mad love for you,” Mansour said while turning to his friend at the podium as he unofficially vowed to knock out Price, whose lone loss came exactly 52 weeks ago, a third round stoppage versus Deontay Wilder last December on Showtime. “I'm going to make sure they get to showcase your fight.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox