By Jake Donovan
The past few weeks couldn’t have been much fun for Mike Dallas Jr. No fighter likes to be reminded of past losses – treat setbacks as learning experiences and move on, is usually the life lesson taught.
Easier said than done as Dallas Jr. heads into tonight’s fight with Javier Castro, which airs live from the Soboda Casino in San Jacinto, CA. on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. Rather than being the talk of the town, the 25-year old instead had to constantly hear the names of his two conquerors.
Josesito Lopez – who stopped Dallas Jr. in seven rounds in Jan. ’11 for his first loss - serves as the B-side for the weekend’s biggest fight, accepting assignment as a replacement for Andre Berto in Saturday’s SHOWTIME main event versus Victor Ortiz.
Mauricio Herrera was coming off of a Fight of the Year-level points loss to Mike Alvarado and was tabbed to appear on HBO next month before high profile opponent Brandon Rios abruptly pulled out of the show.
It’s one thing to move on from a loss without being able to avenge it. It’s another for your fight to have to take a back seat in terms of coverage, when all that is on your mind is moving on with your career. Still, Dallas Jr. has done well to find that balance.
“I’m still taking everything step by step,” Dallas Jr. (18-2-1, 7KO) states. “It’s part of the game. It’s about learning and gaining experience. The loss (to Lopez) made me stronger. This is another step in my progress.”
While there are two losses on his ledger, Dallas Jr. mentions ‘loss’ in singular form. There’s no disputing his stoppage loss to Lopez, which also came on Friday Night Fights. The loss was convincing enough to where the still-improving prospect momentarily struggled to move on with his career.
“I got my first loss and was down on that for a while,” recalls Dallas Jr., who was riding a high heading into that fight, having pulled off an upset win over previously unbeaten Lanard Lane on Shobox six months prior. “I got with new head trainer Virgil Hunter and was ready to move on.”
Then came yet another setback, dropping a narrow – and disputed – decision to Herrera in his very next fight just five months later. While many fighters struggle to cope with a loss they believe should have went their way, Dallas Jr. instead took note of the great strides he made between fights.
“That fight doesn’t bother me too much, because everyone thought I won,” Dallas Jr. says of his June ’11 majority decision loss to Herrera. “I left it all in the ring that night. I didn’t like that it went (to Herrera) but I was happy with my performance and that I improved from (the Lopez fight).”
Dallas Jr. showed his mettle earlier this year, surviving a foul-filled ESPN2-televised bout in pitching a shutout against Miguel Gonzalez. Both fighters accepted the bout on short notice, but it was Dallas who proved to be combat ready once the opening bell rang.
“My mindset for that fight was to win every minute of every round. I did just that. There was no way I was losing a third fight in a row and didn’t want to give the judges any reason to take it from me.”
That same all-in mentality is carried over into tonight’s fight as he faces a dangerous challenge in Castro. A fringe belt is at stake in terms of decorated hardware on display, but what’s really on the line is Dallas Jr’s future in the sport. A win helps advance the Californian to contender status, or at least keep him on the right track.
The repercussions of a third loss in his past four fights are so difficult to comprehend that Dallas Jr. doesn’t even bother to entertain the thought. “I’m up for the challenge,” he insists of Castro (27-2, 22KO), an iron-chinned knockout artist being prepped by Carlos Gamboa, whose son is unbeaten top featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa. “I hope he brings his all because I’m bringing my all.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
Tags: Mike Dallas Jr.