BOXING Darnell Boone beating guys with good records
The south sider shows promise with each bout.
By BOB ROTH
YOUNGSTOWN -- Darnell Boone began his pro boxing career on May 21, 2004 at the Byzantine Center on Shady Run Road in Youngstown.
Since then, he's compiled a 10-3-1 record with just four knockouts, but with four straight wins, he's starting to draw a lot of national attention.
The reason? He's beating guys with good records on the road near his opponents' hometowns.
Boone is co-managed by Tank DiCioccio and Jack Loew at the Southside boxing Club in Youngstown. Loew has trained him since he was 23 when he brought his younger brother to the Erie Street storefront in early 2003.
Itching to box
"The kid had an itch to try boxing, so I came to the gym closest to my house," said Boone, who has lived on the upper southside most of his life.
Boone was taken with the atmosphere of the gym. After a half hour, he walked up to Loew and said he wanted to spar with the "toughest kid in the gym."
Since he was over 150 pounds, that meant Kelly Pavlik who was in the process of running up an undefeated record in the middleweight division.
"I put him in with Kelly, who needed the work and told Darnell I would keep an eye on him and told Kelly to take it easy," he said.
Taking it easy was hard to do. Boone forced the action for three rounds and in his crude way was landing some good right hand leads. (Overall, however, he took a pounding.)
Boone signed up the next day. He had just 12 amateur fights (winning eight) but seemed to show promise with each bout.
"He was still crude," says Loew. "But I knew he was a tough kid when he came to the gym making a late start in boxing. But I never realized how talented a boxer he would become."
In 2004, he asked about turning pro.
"Tank and I decided he deserved a shot," Loew said.
Two years later, he's turning heads.
Boone will fight an eight-round super middleweight contest with Enrico Ornelas (22-2, 14 KOs) from La Habra, Calif. on a six-bout card March 3 at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif.
The 10-round light middleweight main event pits former welterweight champ Vernon Forest against Raul Munoz.
Boone started his pro career with four straight wins before a four-round draw with Walid Smichet in Canada. He lost his first bout last May in Airway Heights, Wash., falling in an eight-round unanimous decision to Walter Wright. His second loss came in Montreal when Boone suffered a cut over his eye.
"A difference in those early pro fights," says DiCioccio, "is that Darnell wanted to counter-punch and make the other guy come to him."
He lost again in November against 2004 Olympian Andre Ward, who is now 8-0 with four KOs. But something positive happened that night.
"Everything started to happen in the fourth round of that fight," Loew said. "Darnell began to let his hands go and the difference was immediate."
It was too late to beat Ward that night, but Boone hasn't lost since, showing more of an aggressive side.
"Darnell is now the complete package," Loew said. "He can box, counterpunch and he hits with power.
"Most of all, he has great patience."
The winning streak started in December against Cleveland's Gray's Armory. He's since beaten Ron Johnson (who was 6-0), Willie Lee (14-4), James Countryman (who was 8-0) and Rasheem Brown (17-3).
After the Brown fight, Boone moved from 32nd among U.S. middleweights to ninth.
"After I sparred with Pavlik I wanted to fight," says Boone, who went to Wilson and was raised by parents Abdul Fareed and Francine Boone. "Now I feel I can win every fight and that I can beat anybody. I have a growing inner confidence with every fight."