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Boxing Firefighter Takes on Biggest Challenge Yet

Boxing Firefighter Takes on Biggest Challenge Yet

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The Houston Chronicle via YellowBrix

July 11, 2010

HOUSTON – Houston firefighter Lanard Lane, 12-0 (7 KOs), takes on the toughest challenge of his boxing career when he faces “The Silent Assassin” Mike Dallas, 14-0-1 (5 KOs), of Bakersfield, CA, Friday, July 16. The showdown between the two undefeated welterweights at the DeSoto Civic Center in Memphis, Tenn., will be aired live on Showtime.

It will be Lane’s debut on a major cable network and the first time he will be up against a fighter with a better record than his own. A victory over Dallas would undoubtedly raise his profile and elevate his status from prospect to contender.

“There’s no pressure at all. It’s a big step up, but I take everybody seriously,” Lane said. “I don’t have too much to say about (Dallas) other than that he’s a boxer-puncher. I just have to worry about my job. I have to make sure I’m in shape, alert and ready to fight.”

A full-time firefighter at Station 41, Lane, 27, has been on a hyper-hectic fight schedule, averaging a bout every two months, since turning pro in 2008. His most significant victory to date was a second-round knockout over previously-unbeaten Said El Harrak, 9-1 (4 KOs), last December. He could not have made such strides in boxing, he said, were it not for the support of the Houston Fire Department.

“They’ll work with my (training) schedule and let me take off or do whatever I have to do to get myself ready mentally and physically for a fight,” Lane said. “The give me a lot of support and always have my back.”

Co-trained by Derwin Richards and Hylon Williams, Sr., Lane has exposed himself to a diversity of styles in preparation for Dallas. He been sparring with former triple world titleholder Juan Diaz, 35-3 (17 KOs), who is gearing up for a world lightweight championship rematch against Juan Manuel Marquez on July 31. In addition, he, alongside Omar Henry and twins Jermell and Jermall Charlo make up a foursome of undefeated prospects known unofficially as the “Bash Team” who regularly spar amongst themselves at the Savannah Boxing Gym.

“Juan Diaz has a lot of speed and throws a lot of punches so we trade a lot of shots,” Lane said. “Then I work with Omar who has a lot of power. Jermell and Jermall are tall guys who are very strong so I learn to cope with different styles and that really helps you out at the end of the day.”

As for the rest of the foursome, Henry and Jermell Charlo have also made significant career strides in the first half of 2010, while Jermall Charlo has hit an impasse due to a dispute with his management.

All three are co-trained by Ronnie Shields and Jay Johns.

Henry, 10-0 (8 KOs), fought three times this year, scoring first- and second-round knockouts over two previously-undefeated fighters before winning his last fight on June 26 in San Antonio by four-round decision. Among the “Bash Team,” Henry, 23, has generated the most buzz in boxing circles thanks to his propensity to flatten opponents with a single punch.

Promoted by Top Rank, Henry, a junior middleweight, was featured in The Ring and Boxing Monthly this year, and footage of his most picturesque knockouts are posted on YouTube. The media attention, he said, is testament to his talent and potential star power. Although he fell short of stopping his last opponent, Henry said it was an invaluable test against a tough, cagey veteran who constantly switched from right-handed to southpaw.

Promoted by Top Rank, Henry, a junior middleweight, was featured in The Ring and Boxing Monthly this year, and footage of his most picturesque knockouts are posted on YouTube. The media attention, he said, is testament to his talent and potential star power. Although he fell short of stopping his last opponent, Henry said it was an invaluable test against a tough, cagey veteran who constantly switched from right-handed to southpaw.

“I belong here and I’m a top-notch fighter like everybody says I am,” Henry said. “I’m getting the experience and I know you can’t knock everybody out so you have to learn how to box as well, which I know how to do.”

“There’s always going to be room for improvement whether I have 10, 20 or 30 fights,” Henry added. "It just comes with every fight and coming to gym. You have to improve on everything – the jab, throwing combinations and body punching.

The first among the foursome to turn pro, Jermell Charlo, 12-0 (6 KOs), fought twice in 2010, winning an eight-round decision in March and a first-round knockout in June. Promoted by Golden Boy, Charlo’s progress as a prizefighter has been steady but less storied than Lane’s and Henry’s. At age 20, though, he has more leeway than his gym-mates to be moved cautiously up the ranks.

“I think I’m actually right on (target) in my career,” Charlo said.

Like Lane and Henry, Charlo recently upped the level of his opposition and defeated fighters with 11-1 and 6-0 records last year. Standing at a lanky 6’1", Charlo recently bulked up seven pounds from welterweight to junior middleweight.

“It takes time and experience to grow and develop in boxing and I’m learning that as I get older, I get wiser in the ring,” Charlo said. “I’m getting smarter by throwing more punches and being more accurate with my punches.”

The twins had always envisioned ascending to the top of the sport together, but Jermall, having begun his pro career nine months later than his brother and bogged down by contractual snafus, has seen his record stall at 6-0 (2 KOs). At this early juncture, though, the Charlos view Jermall’s delay as more of a speed bump than a major obstacle in their quest to becoming the first identical twins win world boxing championships.

“I’m not flying solo at all,” Jermall Charlo said. “He’s still my number-one supporter and my right hand man. It doesn’t matter how many fights he has below me, he’s still going to be as great as me.”


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