Philip H. Anselmo: J’Leon Love, Future Middleweight Threat?
From the second I met 21-year-old, 6’0” amateur
J’Leon Love at the recent KRONK fundraiser in Detroit, there was an immediate feeling in my gut that this kid could be the future of the middleweights. He had that look in his eyes, and a no-nonsense attitude. Love resonated confidence as we spoke on and off throughout the night, so I kept in touch with this youngster and it seems my instincts were correct. “He’s my little right-handed Marvin Hagler,” commented KRONK head trainer Emanuel Steward of J’Leon. “He’s a very tough, fast, determined young man, who could definitely be considered a “prospect” right when he turns pro.”
J’Leon Love was born on the 25th of September and raised in the small town of Inkster Michigan and now resides in Deerborn Heights. He sports well over 80 fights under his belt with only five losses. He’s never been stopped. His credentials boast winning a silver medal at the 2007 National PAL meeting; 2007 Golden Gloves National silver medalist; 2006 Ringside Champion; 2006, ’07, ’08, ’09 Detroit Metro Golden Gloves champ and the 2006-2009 Michigan State Champion.
Love went to the 2007 US Championships in Colorado Springs and qualified for the Olympic trials, but couldn’t go because of a car accident with his Olympic training partner. “When I went home”, explained Love, “I fought in a state tournament (and won). It was wintertime, the weather was really bad, and we were traveling back as a team, but in separate cars. A teammate and coach were in the front, and I had fallen asleep in the backseat, when the car lost control and hit another vehicle.” Love was thrown into the windshield, causing several career threatening injuries that sidelined him for most of the following year. “I had brain swelling, a broken C3 in my neck, and had split my head open”, reflected J’Leon. “I was out of boxing for what seemed like a lifetime, and I missed out on the trials in Houston, and other tournaments thereafter.”
Being away from the sport did not sit well with Love. “It felt like someone stabbed me in the heart. I didn’t know what to do. I was in a neck brace with staples in my head, and couldn’t do anything but heal and get fat,” lamented J’Leon. “It was the worst time in my life. I was so depressed, but my mother, father, and the man upstairs, my lord and savior Jesus Christ kept me with hope, and I came back even stronger. So when I get into the ring, I’m fighting for my family, and I think to myself, ‘This guy hasn’t been through what I’ve been through’, and THAT’S, what makes me fight the way I do.”
He’s fought several bouts against other countries best competition whilst representing the USA team. Love says, “I’ve fought some of the best fighters all over the world and beat most of them.” “THE KRONK gym has a lot of talented boxers, but we’re not getting the exposure.” J’Leon is hungry to turn pro.
He has been the main sparring partner for badass middleweight contender Andy Lee in numerous training camps and has learned a lot from the once defeated, Irish prospect’s intelligence in the ring. “Andy is a hard worker and I believe he’ll be a world champion very soon. When Jermain Taylor came down to The Kronk, he sparred with Andy and it was ugly” recalled Love. “Jermain couldn’t handle Andy. It was really something to see.”
J’Leon gives big props to Lee by saying, “We all look up to him, because he can pave the way for us upcoming boxers behind him. I watch him in the gym, he’s a real humble guy.”
Ultimately, J’Leon Love brings a blunt confidence with him and describes his style as, “A boxer and a banger. I have speed and power in both hands. I’m a right-handed (orthodox) fighter and although I’m not sure of the number, I’ve stopped most of my opponents. I want to finish up ’09, and turn pro in 2010 so I can take it to the next level. So if Oscar De La Hoya, Lou Dibella, Shelly Finklel, Bob Arum, or Al Haymon are reading this, I’ll be ready.”
That’s the confidence this kid has, and it isn’t bravado, his words come from his heart, and in meeting him, I could not help but to believe in him. This kid may be humble now, but after shaking his hand at the end of a successful, long night of KRONK-mania, I had the feeling that the biggest star amongst many that crazy weekend, may have been one that had yet to rise.
If J’Leon Love continues on the straight-and-narrow under the tutelage of Steward, and honors his WILL, perhaps one day his name can be mentioned along side THE KRONK Gym’s elite.
**As of this time of writing, it seems that J’Leon Love’s mission towards excellence is still in the “accomplished” mode, as this past weekend (April 4th, and 5th) Love won his 4th Michigan State Golden Gloves championship at middleweight, both bouts by way of stoppage.