By Dave Spencer
Photo Herby Whyne
The year 2012 thus far has not been the one that welterweight Antonin Decarie (26-1 7KO) had been anticipating after his convincing victory last December versus 19-1-2 Victor Lupo. Hoping to build on the momentum of dominating his opponent and capturing the WBC International belt in the process, this was supposed to have been a breakout year for the 30 year-old welterweight, but injuries and fights falling through have been the rule and not the exception for the fighter up until this point; something that changes Saturday night as Decarie makes his HBO debut versus undefeated Alex Perez (16-0 9KO) on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.
Trainer Mark Ramsay sums it up best when he tells FightNews, “Antonin was frustrated but never discouraged,” adding “He’s always in good shape and working hard in the gym. We only received three weeks notice on our side, but we know we’ll be in shape, we’re not sure if they can say the same on the other side.”
Decarie agreed, “I was disappointed, but never enough to stop training.
“We got the call, not last-minute, but shorter than normal. I was getting ready for October 12th (in Montreal) so we changed the preparation a bit with a little more sparring and a little more pads and maybe less sprints but overall I’m feeling great. I was supposed to have fought on August 11th on Jean Pascal’s card but when that got cancelled I never stopped training, I just stayed at the gym. It’s awesome and I feel great and I’m excited to have this chance to fight and perform on HBO.”
In boxing it’s always what you don’t see coming that has the biggest effect and the HBO offer was one that Decarie who has headlined on ESPN and fought for a world interim title didn’t hesitate in snatching up and saying yes to. “I was injured and pulled out of my fight in April and accepted two other fights that fell through. We’d say yes and they wouldn’t call us back. I was disappointed but never left the gym, that’s why when this came up I was very excited. I think we’ve done our homework really well.”
It’s a dividend that has finally paid off on what has been a very long a determined road for Decarie who started boxing when he was fourteen. "The major sport was hockey but I weighed 106 pounds so I wasn’t the right size. There was a boxing gym near my house and I tried it and loved it. It took me three months and I had my first fight and two or three years later I was Canadian champ in the juniors.”
Decaries’ opponent Perez certainly comes as challenge to any welterweight. Six feet tall, undefeated, aggressive. “Not bad at all,” says trainer Ramsay summing it up nicely.
“It’s something pretty rare at this weight,” says Decarie, “Six feet tall AND a southpaw, but I think we brought in the perfect guy to get ready for him, John O’Donnell from England, he’s 5’11” and left-handed and he was a very good sparring partner."
Decarie feels that even with an undefeated docket, Perez doesn’t measure up in experience and level of opposition. “My advantage that even if if he’s undefeated, he hasn’t fought the same level of fighter as me. I’ve gone ten and twelve rounds many times in my career and it doesn’t bother me, I’m ready to go hard for ten hard rounds, from the beginning to the end I’ll be able to bring it to him. I think he’s going to find it hard to deal with that kind of intensity. For his first big fight, I think he’s going to find it difficult. Experience is the only thing you can’t buy in life, you have to live it to gain it. When I fought for the world championship in Paris, even though I didn’t get the decision and I was disappointed, I’m sure it’s going to help me a lot.”
Unlike a lot of fighters who just point to numbers or statistics as a measure of experience, the personable Decarie points to some concrete lessons that have helped gain experience over his seven plus year career. “I know in Paris I came in too tense, I wanted to do too much in the beginning and I got tired a bit. I was trying to do too much because whenever you’re on the road, whenever you hit your opponent, the crowd doesn’t react. I guess it was frustrating a bit. I didn’t realize, I was hitting him and there was no reaction, I was thinking maybe I didn’t land my shot properly. I wasn’t composed enough and I strayed from the game plan a bit at the beginning. This is something I’m not going to do again.
“Everybody dreams of making it on HBO one day. It could have been anybody as an opponent, it’s an awesome opportunity. When I looked at him, no disrespect, he’s a great fighter, but I think style wise I got the tools to beat this guy.”