by David P. Greisman
You wouldn’t think that a boxer would want to leave the great fight city of Montreal in order to advance his career.
But that’s what junior welterweight Tony Luis (15-0, 7 knockouts) is looking to do, starting on tonight’s episode of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights,” which will be airing from the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Upstate New York.
This will be the second fight there for the 25-year-old junior welterweight, who made his American debut last September on the undercard of the Gennady Golovkin-Grzegorz Proksa bout.
Tonight, Luis is slated to take on late replacement Jose Hernandez, who is listed at 13-6-1 with 5 knockouts.
When he’s not boxing, Luis — pronounced “Lewis” — works in a warehouse. Prior to that, he held a full-time gig in social work, working with juveniles and alcohol and drug addicts. He had gone to college to work in law enforcement, but opted instead to focus on boxing now while he still could, which would still allow him to return to that career path later.
BoxingScene.com: There are a lot of prospects in boxing. For those who aren’t familiar with Tony Luis, tell us a little about yourself.
Luis: “I’m from a small town, Cornwall, Ontario. I tell people that if you look at the map, we’re in the armpit of Ontario, right between Toronto and Montreal, which are two big fights towns. That’s where the bulk of the amateur of my career was, I went to the Ottawa and Montreal fight scene a lot, growing and developing my skills. I was a 7-time provincial champion, and I was on the junior national B team for a couple of years.
“When I turned 20, I decided to turn pro. Since then, I would’ve liked to have been more active, but I’m 15-0. I’ve won the WBC Continental Americas title, and that got me rated by the WBC, got me my contract with Greg Cohen. Matt Yano’s my publicist, and now we’re on ESPN.”
BoxingScene.com: Why should people be paying attention to you, alongside all these other prospects?
Luis: “Because I know I have what it takes to excite the people and give them their money’s worth as I become a world champion.”
BoxingScene.com: How would you describe your style?
Luis: “Boxer-puncher. I’ve always been a boxer first, a puncher second. I rely on my speed and my movement, and I’ve always been a heavy body puncher. I’m slick defensively. I’m just an all-around complete fighter. Always in shape and ready to go.”
BoxingScene.com: You said you’d have liked to be more active. You fought twice in 2012, twice in 2011, three times in 2010. What’s kept you from being as active as you’d have liked to be?
Luis: “Sometimes bad luck and circumstances. Fight cancellations, injuries, stuff like that. And near the end, it got to be contract issues between me and my former promoter. Really, it’s just bad luck: cancellations and injuries over the past couple of years.”
BoxingScene.com: Who did you used to be promoted by?
Luis: “The first few years of my career, I was with Yvon Michel, GYM Promotions. And then we wanted out of our contract. They just weren’t honoring some of the commitments that were promised us in the contract, so we sent them a lawyer’s letter and got out after three years, but still with three years left on the contract. From there, we just kept busy with a few tune-up fights with Nestor, a local Montreal promoter. We needed him and he needed us.
“We both helped each other during that brief period, and he’s the one that actually got me the WBC Continental title match. Without him, I wouldn’t have gotten rated or been discovered by Matt Yano or Greg Cohen. In the little time that I was with him, even though I wasn’t fighting at the Bell Centre or having any kind of TV exposure, he was the one who got me what Yvon promised me. I’m always going to be grateful to Nestor for getting me that opportunity.”
BoxingScene.com: Where would you have preferred to be at this point in your career?
Luis: “You know what, everything happens for a reason. I’m not going to say that I’d prefer one way or another, that I should’ve been more further ahead or not, because all the while I was still training, staying in the gym, getting good sparring and improving. And now I know I’m ready to be on ESPN and step up and fight a better caliber of opposition. It happened for a reason.
“Some of the layoffs or injuries, if anything, it helped me grow mentally stronger as a fighter as well. There could’ve been times when I could’ve wanted to quit and go on and do something else with my life, but my love for the sport kept me in. I don’t regret anything, and it all has helped put me where I am today.”
BoxingScene.com: This is going to be your second fight in the United States. Montreal, as you said, is a big fight town. How do you feel about taking your career south of the border?
Luis: “I’m excited. I’ve always wanted to go to the States. At every point in a fighter’s career, it doesn’t matter from what part of the world they’re at, eventually it leads to if you want to get on HBO or Showtime, everybody’s got to hit America if they want to take their career to the next level and become a superstar. I’m looking forward to invading.”
BoxingScene.com: You’ve been on American television before, right?
Luis: “I was on ESPN a couple of years ago. I fought a swing bout against a southpaw by the name of Adrian Valdez, who had previously gone 10 rounds with Adrian Guerrero. That was actually really the only American TV fight that I’ve ever been involved with.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think you need to do to gain a foothold and return to American television more often?
Luis: “I have to make an impression. I have to look good, and I have to dominate.”
BoxingScene.com: I know that boxers never talk about what’s next. But given the way your career has gone to date and how you want to move your career forward, what do you want to do with your 2013?
Luis: “I want to be on TV more. I want to try and make point that every fight I’m getting more exposure. I want to keep moving further up the rankings and maybe have another belt before the end of the year and be closer to a title shot.”
BoxingScene.com: Anything else you want to tell people?
Luis: “Keep your eyes open Jan. 25. I’m looking to put on a show and show people what I’m all about.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]