By: Bryant Romero
Undefeated light heavyweight prospect Taylor Duerr from Detroit will be headlining an event in the Motor City on June 23 as part of the co-promotion between Tommy Hearns and Jackie Kallen. Duerr (6-0-1, 6 KOs) will look to keep his undefeated record intact as he works towards his goal of becoming the light heavyweight champion of the world within in the next two years. The 28-year-old from Detroit just made his professional debut in November 2016 as Duerr first gave up on the sport of boxing when he was a young teenager. It took a decade for him to rediscover his love for the sport as he struggled with his battle to overcome a drug addiction that at one point left him in rock bottom. Duerr has come a long way from his troubled past that left him homeless, to now an upcoming light heavyweight getting ready to headline his first card in the city he grew up in.
“I started boxing for a guy name Al Irish in the Detroit area,” Duerr said. “I started competing on the scene of Detroit and usually only one of the only white kids out there.
“I had a strong amateur boxing background up until when I was 15. I was (32-1) and when I was in high school I started experimenting with drugs and getting into a lot of trouble.
“Because of me doing so well in boxing, they wanted me to start traveling and competing more in tournaments,” he said.
However, Duerr was not ready to pursue a career in boxing and was unable to hold off on the temptations of what high school kids went through during after school activities. The path he chose would eventually make him quit boxing at just the age of 15 and would ultimately lead him to a bad heroin addiction at just the age of 17.
“I wasn’t willing to give up my after school life, which consisted of doing whatever we did in high school. Hang out with girls, smoking weed, popping pills and stuff like that,” Duerr said.
“I ended up quitting boxing, took some time off and I ended up getting in a lot of trouble as a teenager. I was in and out of juvi, and I was a bad heroin addict by the time I was 17.
“I got sober for awhile, I had a baby and I had a relapse after 3 years,” he told me.
Finally after a decade since hanging up his gloves as young amateur, Duerr while in recovery would meet an MMA fighter who would give him the spark he needed to start competing competitively again. After just a few training sessions in helping his friend out in MMA, Duerr would let fate decide on whether to compete as an MMA fighter, which would ultimately lead to his long awaited return to boxing.
“I met a buddy from recovery who was a MMA fighter and he asked me if I could help with his boxing,” Duerr said. “I started helping him out and he took me to the ground and I guess that fire and drive to learn kind of came back.
“I started learning a little bit of MMA and they gave me a fight on really short notice and the kid was really experienced in wrestling and jujitsu,” he explained.
“I took the fight on a coin toss and I only had done 3 jujitsu classes, but they felt like my boxing was good enough to carry me.
“I flipped the coin and I said ‘if it’s heads I’ll fight, so it landed on heads and I went in and beat the sh** out of this kid for 2 minutes standing up and he just kept trying to get me on the ground.
“This kid had a chin on him and he finally got me on the ground and I didn’t know what to do. I was gassed out and out of shape and they had to stop to fight.
“That was when the fire got relit and that was on March 21, 2015. I competed one more time in MMA and I won the fight by submission and I started focusing everything back in to boxing,” Duerr said.
Duerr is now riding on 9 and half years on sobriety and is now completely focused on his boxing craft. Training six days a week and running 4 miles a night and keeping close eyes on his diet. He has backers that have invested in his career with Jackie Kallen as his advisor, Phil Awada as his Manager, and Bobby Hitz promoting him. Duerr is looking forward to see where this journey leaves him but wants the boxing world to know that he not only fights for his family but also for recovering people that have been through what he’s endured.
“When I fight its different man, it’s not just I’m fighting for my family. I’ve been homeless from California and in all over the country as a result of where my disease has taken me,” Duerr explained.
“I have a huge following of recovering people, especially out of Detroit and somebody told me that I embody the fact that even though I was once a junkie and that my life was hopeless and after getting my life together, you still can pursue your dreams again. I stopped boxing when I was 15 and took it back when I was 25,” he said.
The 28-year-old is also a student of the game and is very well aware of the major threats in the division. Standing at 6 foot 5, he’s a towering light heavyweight with an 81 inch reach that could be a potential problem and he’s very comfortable on fighting on the inside despite his very long arms. Duerr sees himself right up there with top of the division in just two years time.
“This is my life. I love it, I have no fear. I’m just going to keep working as hard as I can and I know those opportunities will come.
“I see myself already competing with the top level guys, but I’m going to trust in my team. I want to show people that I’m the real deal. That I’m not on main stage because I’m a white boy with looks from Detroit. I’m up here because I can fight,” Duerr said.