By Cliff Rold
In our social media world, the right punch, the right highlight, can raise eyebrows and create awareness in an instant. Heavyweight Cassius Chaney (16-0, 10 KO) had one of those moments last month at the MGM Grand in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
In the first round of Chaney’s fight with Joel Caudle, on the undercard of Teofimo Lopez-Masayoshi Nakatani, a series of right hands wobbled the heavy set Caudle. The combination of right hands, lost balance, and raw power resulted in Caudle falling hard through the ropes to the floor headfirst.
Caudle made it back in the ring but was stopped not long after. The official time of stoppage didn’t matter much. Chaney had already won in the world of shares and retweets.
It was a homecoming of sorts for a new face in the division. “It felt great fighting back in Maryland,” I’m from Baltimore,” Chaney said after the fight. Billed from Connecticut, Chaney noted about the discrepancy, “I’d like them to say from Baltimore by way of New London, Connecticut. They didn’t ask me. It’s all good,” he said with a laugh.
Chaney catches the eye in the ring. He looks the part, standing 6’5 and hovering between 240-250 lbs. He’s got real snap in his right hand and displays good balance and agility. His background helps explain why.
Already 32, Chaney came to boxing late and already with a solid foundation for life in place. He attended the University of New Haven on a scholarship and played basketball for the Division II Chargers. In his senior season, he averaged just over 17 points and nine rebounds a game as a forward before going on to graduate with a degree in sports management. Chaney got into boxing after college and sees some benefit to the late start at his size. “I’m lucky to be a heavyweight because I’m still young in the sport. I’m fresh, my body’s fresh. I feel good.”
Going from the hardwood to the hard life of heavyweight boxing wasn’t a surprise to Chaney. “I always knew I was going to end up boxing. I just never had the time because I played basketball. I’m just happy I didn’t, because if I would have started when I was in school I would have probably lost my scholarship,” Chaney said, conveying the significance of his education.
Turned pro in 2015, Chaney is now signed to Main Events and is being steadily brought along with an eye towards his need to develop. “I only had 27 amateur fights,” Chaney said about the transition from basketball before adding, ”but I went places to spar.” Referring to his childhood, Chaney said further, “I grew up fighting all through Baltimore. I didn’t go to Connecticut until high school. I grew up having to fight older guys and I always felt like I would probably end up boxing, but I’m really happy no one steered me to it young because it takes a toll on your body.”
Chaney occasionally returns to his first sporting passion to help nurture his new craft. “I still play (basketball) sometimes just for the action, for my eyes. It definitely helps because you have to be able to react, anticipate.” Relating it to the fight with Caudle, Chaney added, “It felt like he was surprised at my footwork.” Chaney knows the real surprise comes at the end of his glove. “Whenever I catch somebody with the right hand, I know they feel it,” he said. With three first round knockouts in his last four fights, the evidence suggests he’s correct.
It’s still a work in progress though and Chaney’s boxing career isn’t yet at the stage where it can be his sole endeavor. Chaney looks forward to boxing eventually being his full time job but said he’s still working in Connecticut and mentoring young people. He eventually hopes to work with local schools in his birth state.
Before he gets there, Chaney will need to make the move from prospect to contender. Asked how far he thinks he is from beginning to face the men who will move him up the ranks, Chaney estimated, “Maybe like a year.” For Chaney, it’s already a full emotional investment. “One thing I do, and do well, whatever I’ve been getting for boxing, monetary, is going to boxing. I don’t have kids. I don’t have a wife. I’m not playing around. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t even party. I’m still young in that sense, and I’m kind of mature in that aspect but I know when that time comes and I’m able to train full time it’s going to take me to a whole other level.”
Considering his late start, Chaney was asked if boxing is something he could see himself doing until his forties. His response showed age 40 is still, for him, a long way away. “Klitschko did that,” he said respectfully before seeming to think more about it. “I don’t know. It depends. Klitschko’s a great athlete and I’m like, I think I’m a better athlete.”
It was a comment acknowledging how long the journey still is if he hopes to hit the peaks of the game while wondering about the assets that might get him there. It was the dreaming out loud of a fresh face in the heavyweight division who doesn’t know how far he’ll get yet.
Fight fans don’t know yet either but Joel Caudle can probably tell them Cassius Chaney is one to keep an eye on going forward.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]