By: William Holmes
The gym is musty and crowded, and is located on the second floor of a building in North Philadelphia. The boxing gym known as Shuler’s is filled with boxers working out and a few local observers watching the action in the ring. To the right of me is a juvenile boxer, no older than twelve, who works and maneuvers around and underneath a tear drop heavy bag with ease and precision. By the looks of it, he may have been training his whole life, and if he wants to become a professional one day, he chose the right place.
Two fighters stand in the ring, perennial contender and former title challenger Yusaf Mack stands across from South Jersey native and rising prospect Derrick Webster. They work round after round with their corner yelling instructions, as both fighters have upcoming fights. Mack has a bout on January 28th, and Webster has a bout on January 21st.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Mack and Webster have obviously chosen each other to spar with to keep themselves sharp and ready for their upcoming bouts, and the partnership is mutually beneficial. Below is a transcript of an interview with undefeated prospect Derrick Webster.
Boxinginsider: How long have you been boxing for?
Derrick Webster: About six years now.
Boxinginsider: What made you get into the sport of boxing?
Derrick Webster: It was something that I just picked up, and found success in. I’m trying to get faster, and trying to work, my quick reflexes is one of my key points.
Boxinginsider: I saw you sparring in there with Yusaf Mack, how long have you been working with him?
Derrick Webster: This will be my second time training with him this week. I try to get the top sparring, and you can’t get no better than Yusaf. I’ve been sparring with other contenders around here, Mack and Dhafir Smith have been helping me out. These guys are contenders, I think Yusaf is number three in the world. Dhafir has been around, I learn a lot being in the ring with them.
Boxinginsider: Where you from originally? Tell me a little bit about your background and past.
Derrick Webster: Glassboro, NJ. High school graduate of Glassboro high, bachelor’s degree in juvenile criminal justice from Salem Community College. My whole life has been basketball and music. I love singing and I love music, boxing is something that I picked up on, something to keep me grounded. I always see myself as finding success, I always told myself that the gift that God gave me would make it happen so, I’m a man of many talents and boxing is looking pretty big for me right now.
Boxinginsider: What made you decide to box?
Derrick Webster: It’s something that I picked up and chose to do. There really was not one particular thing, I had Hard Knocks Gym down near the corner of my house growing up as a kid, I popped in my head here and there and worked on the bags, but I never really took it seriously as a kid. I go out on the backyard with socks on my hands and box with the neighbors, stuff like that, but it was never really something I’d see myself doing until now. I saw myself doing music, but, boxing is where it’s at.
Boxinginsider: You’re currently undefeated, are you holding any belts? Do you plan on staying at light heavyweight?
Derrick Webster: I’m holding the BAM Light Heavyweight Title, I’m either fighting for a new belt, the NABA, or defending my title. I’m not even a light heavyweight. I’m originally a middleweight, 160, I’ve been low as 158, light heavyweight just kind of happened. I’m 6’4, I can carry the weight, I pack the power so I can outbox these guys, but I would never say that I’m a light heavyweight. I’m really trying to find my way back to my weight class, either at middleweight, super middleweight I’m good at too, but I can get back to 160 with no problems. I don’t like being at light heavyweight, but keep myself moving and keep feeding my family, I find a lot of success at it, but I see myself at light heavyweight, maybe even heavyweight, towards the end of my career.
Boxinginsider: Tell me about your fight coming up this week?
Derrick Webster: I’m fighting Brian Bernard. I really don’t know too much about him. So far he hasn’t bailed out, I’m used to them switching opponents on me. It’s hard to match me. I really just train for the boxers, the brawlers, the pressure fighters, that’s why I train with Yusaf, he brings the best of both worlds. The game plan is to go in there and do what I do, and not worry about who he is and what he does. I definitely plan on knocking him out in the first or second round.
Boxinginsider: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Derrick Webster: I see myself as a world champion a few times over, my kids choosing the best schools, my family basically getting what they want. Basically putting my family in the best place possible, no worries. My lady she works hard, I don’t want her working as hard as she is working.
Boxinginsider: Any fighters you look up to?
Derrick Webster: I love Tommy Hearns. The smaller guys, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Joe Frazier, even today if I watch I go back and watch a lot of the older guys. If I watch anything today I watch like the Zab Judah when he was in his prime, Mayweather..I like the combinations they put together. I have the speed to emulate a lot of the things they do. You really don’t find too many guys with my hand speed and my reactions.
Boxinginsider: How many times do you plan on fighting this year?
Derrick Webster: This year I’m trying to get in there at least eight times. I like to stay busy.
Boxinginsider: Any plans on taking a step up on competition and taking on a big name fighter this year?
Derrick Webster: I would love to. We are talking about big names, Kelly Pavlik, I would love to see Kelly Pavlik. Jeff Lacy….if I could go back in time Trinidad. I definitely want to get some big names on my roster. What separates me from other fighters coming up, you get fighters who have power but no speed, I consider myself the total package the speed, reflexes, the defense, and I can move really well for my height. Any opposition you put in front of me right now I feel like I could beat. There’s a few guys I’m looking to go after. I’m definitely looking at Mike Paschell, he’s a light heavyweight who’s 25-2 or 25-3. He’s a southpaw like me, and we can call it the southpaw showdown. I do, and will say, that I am the best southpaw around.
Guys aren’t doing what I’m doing even training wise. I’m dedicated to this, I’m training three times a day. While guys are sleeping I’m out running. Even if I wake up at 1 or 2 in the morning I’m on the floor doing pushups or I go outside and do some sprints. I live this, I want this, I want this bad. I’m not saying other fighters don’t want this bad, but I want it bad.
Boxinginsider: Who’s your current promoter?
Derrick Webster: Nadal Promotions is my promoter..he’s moving me really well. We are looking for some TV dates this year. A possible couple title shots this year, I plan on making this year a really big year. A lot of prayer, eating well and living well, and surrounding myself with the right people, and stay focused on my friends, my family, and my career.
My trainer Denny Brown is definitely a guy who has my back and has my best interests at heart. He’s been making me a better fighter, and he’s been my trainer for the past two years. He doesn’t focus on the things I do right, he focuses on the things I do wrong, and pushes me and makes me rise to the occasion.
Boxinsider: Any plans on fighting in Atlantic City this year?
Derrick Webster: Definitely. I plan on making Atlantic City my home. When they think about fights, I want them to think about me. Glassboro definitely comes out and supports me, and my childhood friends come out and show me some love. Glassboro is a small town that makes stars. I like to stay where the love is at.
Boxinginsider: Last question, I see you do a lot of work in the community, anything you want to tell your fans about that?
Derrick Webster: Boxing is not just about me. If I didn’t have the fans that I have, my family wouldn’t be eating. If I didn’t have the fans that I have “Take it to the Bank” would be unknown. I have a pretty good buzz, so any chance I get, whether it’s domestic violence events or charity events for children’s hospital like we did at Campbell’s Field in Camden…anything I can do for the community. I’m mentoring 16 kids, I don’t want kids to go through what I went through in life. I talk to them, I have a training camp, the “Take it to the Bank” training camp, I help the kids with their homework. If they are having any problems at home, I talk to the kids about respecting their parents. I grew up basically without any, so I know how that feels, so if you have a mother and father you should honor them, especially if you have a mother and father that’s working hard for you to have a better life. I love giving back and helping children and young teens as much as possible. Somebody has to do it, instead of just walking past young kids acting a fool, I’d rather talk to them. Not to make myself seem like a saint or anything like that because everyone has issues but even through my issues if I can help somebody, that’s what I strive to do.