|After Five Years, McCombs is Ready for Round Two
INTERVIEW By Dan Horgan (March 20, 2007) Doghouse Boxing
Perhaps the most overlooked variable in boxing today is the vital importance of luck in a fighter’s career. Pugilists who benefit from good luck often find themselves at the top of the sport, while those who don’t generally retire not having lived up to their full potential. If luck in boxing was a body of water, then twenty-five year old Richard McCombs would be an arid desert.
Countless boxers attribute misfortune to inhibiting their careers. Everything from poor training to medical obscurities seem to come up when a fighter talks about a loss, but to know the true meaning of bad luck, one needs to know the story of Richard McCombs.
Growing up in Southeastern Washington D.C., McCombs, a self described “lost boy,” found solace in the fight game and began to excel at his craft. Training under Jerode Dews, McCombs compiled a 26-6 amateur record and even won a
Washington D.C. Golden Gloves title at 139 pounds.
On January 23, 2001, he made his pro debut at middleweight, knocking out the inexperienced Martin Ward in less than a minute. But over the next year, the downward spiral began.
“My mother-in-law died six months after the Ward victory,” explained McCombs. “And right after that, I was offered a fight on one days notice. At the time, I was extra confident from my first fight, so I took it. I ended up paying the price.”
For McCombs, “paying the price” meant suffering a first round knockout loss to the undefeated Tony Jeter. And the back luck didn’t end there.
“In my next fight, I was outweighed by fifteen pounds,” said McCombs. “I paid the price a second time.”
McCombs was again KO’d in the first round, this time at the hands of the untested Marvin Robinson. It was a tough time for the man they call “Too Sharp,” but McCombs was determined to again make things right.
“At that point in my career, I promised myself to never come into a fight unprepared again,” he told DogHouseBoxing.
But he never got the chance to. McCombs, who had signed a five year contract with Cleveland Burgess, a local manager, found himself in a catch-22 when Burgess fled to Mexico after “screwing over some fighters.” Although McCombs could fight while Burgess was gone, he would “need to pay Burgess a lot of money.” So McCombs, anxious to get back into the ring, has had to wait -- for five years and counting.
“It’s been frustrating,” said McCombs. “I’ve just been staying in the gym, staying in shape, and getting ready for when the time comes.”
McCombs first fight back will be in May versus an opponent to be named. Because his contract with Burgess is up, he can fight without losing money.
Although the five year layoff appears to be an issue of concern, McCombs is not worried about ring rust. In his time off, he has lived a disciplined life, dedicating nearly all of his time to his family and Jesus Christ. In addition, he has been keeping his skills sharp by sparring with former two time middleweight champion William Joppy. According to McCombs, the experience has been invaluable.
“I’ve learned a lot sparring with Joppy,” said McCombs. “And I‘ve been holding my own in there. Remember, I‘m a former champion myself.”
McCombs will embark on the second round of his career in May. His unnamed opponent will be facing a determined, strong, fresh McCombs who has been waiting to fight for over five years. Needless to say, that opponent is, well, pretty unlucky.
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