Ever wonder how many times someone has assumed middleweight prospect Derrick Colemon Jr. was the son of another pro athlete from Detroit, former NBA star Derrick Coleman?
“Probably a hundred thousand,” deadpanned Colemon.
That must be annoying.
“Oh, real annoying,” he laughs. “But we’re cool, though. I know him.”
If Colemon has his way, people will soon start asking “DC” if he’s related to a fighter many believe has world championship potential. And the way the 20-year-old sees it, the road to reaching that potential truly begins on February 14 when he puts his 11-0 record on the line in a ShoBox televised bout against 15-0 Joseph Jackson.
Fighting on Valentine’s Day? Is that an issue?
“Nah, it’s business,” said Colemon, who has a good excuse to get out of buying chocolate and flowers this time around.
“We’re gonna have a hundred Valentine Days, not a hundred fights.”
But all joking aside, this is a big fight for the unbeaten up and comer.
“That’s exactly how I look at it,” he said. “It’s the fight that’s gonna change my whole life and put me where I need to be in boxing; the one that’s gonna get me recognized in my division.”
A life-changing fight? That’s a lot of pressure to put on one eight-round segment of your life, isn’t it?
“Yeah it is, but you gotta start somewhere,” said Colemon. “And I like this because a lot of great champions started off on ShoBox, so it’s an opportunity.”
It is, and it’s one that’s due for a fighter with a solid amateur career but has yet to face opposition commensurate with his talent. But if Colemon is concerned before facing a foe sharing an undefeated record with him, he’s not showing it.
“I’ve been fighting all my life, so I’m not worried about this,” he said. “It’s just another step. I’ve been fighting since I was four. I’m here in LA, getting the best sparring, sparring at Wild Card Gym, I’m not worried. I wish the fight was this afternoon. I’m ready to get to Philadelphia and the 2300 Arena.”
It’s fitting that Colemon is fighting in Philadelphia, as few fighters have reputations quite like those from Philly and the Motor City. But for the uninitiated, what should fans expect from a Detroit fighter?
“Detroit fighters are rough, rugged,” Colemon said. “Everybody got a chip on their shoulder, everybody comes to a boxing gym to escape something, so every day you fight, and when you’re sparring somebody, you’re not sparring just them; you’re sparring the problems that they’re bringing from home, maybe you’re sparring the hurt they got from living in Detroit, and you’re sparring more than a fighter. You’re sparring a lot of pain. And when they come to the gym, they’re trying to hurt you.”
That will make a fighter grow up fast, and Colemon has seen a lot more in the gym than he has in the pro ring. It’s built his character and his toughness, and that’s something that will serve him well as the level of competition rises.
“Everybody is fighting for a reason,” he said. “Everybody has problems that they’re trying to overcome, and they know boxing is a way to escape those problems that they’re living every day.”
So what’s his reason?
“My reason is for family, for life-changing reasons, to escape Detroit,” he said. “For my family to escape Detroit and to be somebody, to be something.”
Oh yeah, Mr. Colemon wants to be great, too. And it all starts in a little over a week.
“I feel like if I wasn’t chasing greatness, then I’d be in the wrong sport,” he said. “I think about that every day, and every time that thought goes through my mind, it gives me chills. I just know that after this night comes, people will be looking at me in that way, and every time I think about getting my hand raised, I get chills because I know it’s coming and I feel it.”