Fort Worth born-and-bred boxer Sam Clarkson Jr. was highly motivated by the wrong forces growing up. He was heading down dangerous Dallas roads, ones that could potentially not only derail his life, but spoil his boxing talents as well.
Before the Cedar HIll native found the sweet science at the age of 17, he was already going in and out of jail.
Reflecting on his regressions today, Clarkson Jr. is not proud of his decisions, but he doesn’t regret them either because it made him the stronger.
Non-profit organization Ring Of Hope was created in 2010 to help kids like Clarkson Jr. in the greater Dallas area escape trouble. Over the last decade, Ring Of Hope has transformed communities and changed the lives of the youth by educating, empowering and engaging students through the fundamentals of boxing.
Clarkson Jr. is proof of the promise that Ring Of Hope presents. He embodies the organization’s mission , and now, Clarkson Jr. (22-5, 15 KOs) will headline Ring Of Hope’s ninth annual “Night To Fight” on Saturday, March 7 when he takes on the Freddie Roach-trained Israel Duffus (19-6, 16 KOs) at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving, Texas.
“It’s truly a huge blessing to headline Ring of Hope’s event,” said Clarkson Jr. “It’s great to see how Ring of Hope opens its doors to everyone and people of all different backgrounds. I want to become a part of a movement to show kids who may have troubled backgrounds that boxing accepts you no matter who you are.”
The light heavyweight Clarkson is a nine-year veteran who’s defeated the likes of Cedric Agnew and also challenged Dmitry Bivol and Jesse Hart in the past.
Before the 29-year-old southpaw appeared multiple times under the bright lights of Showtime television, he racked up an amateur record of 89-9 and won the National Pals in 2009 and the Ringside silver medal in 2010. Clarkson is also a two-time Texas Golden Gloves champion.
“I was a firecracker always up for a fight,” said Clarkson Jr. “I turned a negative into a positive. When I got introduced to boxing, it was mine, and I have stayed out of trouble for the last 13 years. Boxing has changed my life. For kids who are like me when I was growing up, if you have the right passion, there are no limitations to who you can become.”
Clarkson Jr. has frequented Ring of Hope gyms ever since its inception, whether it be for sparring, reconnecting with coaches and old friends or simply speaking and guiding children.
“A lot of the kids at Ring of Hope look up to me because I am a professional boxer. It feels great to motivate them,” said Clarkson Jr. “Ring of Hope is a great platform to help kids escape the streets. I take my hat off to them.
“I’ve returned to my comfort zone with spirituality. I’ve been reading the Bible a lot more and believe that God will set-up everything for me as a family man and a provider. I’ve fallen short a lot in the past, but ever since I’ve refocused my career, everything is falling back into place. I’m excited, and I can’t wait to put on a great show. Everyone will be pleased to see my skills. I’ll be coming to make a statement. I’m coming with a chip on my shoulder and I’m looking to dominate.”
Clarkson Jr. will attempt to conquer the Panamanian pugilist Duffus, a 27-year-old who’s been training with the Hall of Fame coach Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles ever since he permanently moved to the United States in 2014.
“The last few years have been rough for me. I split with my wife, and we have two very young children. The last thing on my mind in the middle of the storm was boxing,” said Duffus. “My personal issues were affecting me, but I’m doing better now, and I’m focused on putting my career back on track.”
Duffus was riding an eight-fight winning from 2017 and 2018 before his problems outside of the ring took over. He lost his next two fights by unanimous decision. Finally in a better place, he’s looking to bounce back versus Clarkson Jr.
“Freddie has a lot of confidence in me and my talent,” said Duffus, who also has an amateur record of 98-10. “He tells me exactly what I need to do to take advantage of my opponent, and that’s what I plan on doing March 7.”
Also to be featured in separate bouts are welterweights Jessy Martinez (14-0, 9 KOs) and Brandyn Lynch (10-1, 8 KOs), cruiserweight Robin Safar (10-0, 7 KOs) and heavyweight Patrick Mailata (4-0, 2 KOs), Austin-based super lightweight Robert Kevin Garcia (6-0, 5 KOs) and the Corpus Christi-based lightweight John Rincon (4-0, 2 KOs).
Night To Fight will be available live on Integrated Sports Pay Per View on cable, satellite and digital pay-per-view via iN Demand, Vubiquity, DIRECTV and DISH in the United States, Shaw PPV in Canada and worldwide via the FITE.TV app and website.
Hall of Fame Showtime TV broadcaster Al Bernstein, former two-division world champion Paulie Malignaggi and LA Times and Boxing Scene journalist and writer Manouk Akopyan will call the action from ringside.