A report by Steve Kim for ESPN.
The list of baseball players from the Dominican Republic is long and illustrious. Juan Marichal, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, Sammy Sosa, Adrien Beltre and Robinson Cano make up just a partial list of the stars who have come from the island.
But the Dominican list of boxers isn’t nearly as impressive, and that’s what Carlos Adames is trying to change.
Adames, who faces Frank Galarza in a junior middleweight match Saturday night at the famed Madison Square Garden as part of the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan undercard, hopes to prove that this Caribbean nation can produce more than just standouts on the diamond. He was inked to a promotional pact last year by Top Rank mainly on the strength of his work as a sparring partner for Crawford.
“Every person has their own thing … I was never a baseball player. I’ve always been into boxing,” he said. “I just want to demonstrate and show everything that I have as a fighter to the people. Being from the Dominican Republic, I want to make history like the Mexican fighters like Canelo [Alvarez], or any other big fighter.
“I want to show that the Dominican Republic fighters have the same skills, and I want to be the fighter that demonstrates that.”
And being a pugilist, it wasn’t Miguel Tejada or Albert Pujols whom he looked up to, but the legendary Manny Pacquiao.
“It’s not just from the boxing standpoint, but how he is outside of the ring,” he said through Alfredo Escarcega, an undefeated junior lightweight who trains alongside Adames. “He’s very humble — he’s always been that way. He treats all of his fans with respect. So it’s inside the ring and outside the ring, the way he handles himself that I admire.”
For Adames, Saturday’s fight presents an opportunity to showcase his skills in front of the world, as it’s the featured bout on ESPN2 ahead of the pay-per-view broadcast. It’s also his first camp under Robert Garcia, who also trains Mikey Garcia, Jose Ramirez and Vergil Ortiz.
“Adames is one of those talented guys like Joan Guzman, Argenis Mendez,” Garcia said. “The only difference is that he has a lot more power. … His power is insane. It’s something you don’t see often.”
His power comes with some versatility, as he has the ability to switch to the southpaw stance. He also showcases the discipline necessary to get the job done. Adames came in heavy for this camp a few months ago, but Garcia noted his unwavering work ethic and adherence to the menu set by their in-house cook hired by Garcia for his stable.
A year ago, Adames was placed on the ESPN broadcast before Vasiliy Lomachenko faced Jorge Linares and scored a clear 10-round decision over Alejandro Barrera. Since then he has racked up early-round stoppages of Joshua Conley (TKO2) and Juan Ruiz (KO3). It’s evident that Adames is a heavy-handed banger, but it’s also clear that there are plenty of rough edges to smooth out technically.
“Hot and cold” is the way Carl Moretti, vice president of boxing operations for Top Rank, describes Adames’ progress thus far under their banner. His belief is that the better the training camp environment and sparring that’s available to him, the better he has performed. For this particular camp, Adames moved around with the likes of Ortiz, Esquiva Falcao, Alexis Espino and Alexis Rocha, who are all undefeated and highly regarded.
Moretti believes that for Adames — and other boxers from this part of the world — it’s not an issue of ability when it comes to their long-term success in their professional endeavors.
“It’s just getting them more Americanized, that’s more the issue,” he explained. “When they start getting a little bit of money, that translates to a lot of money in their countries and they’re not quite adapted to react that way.”
And when discipline and focus become an issue, that’s when careers are derailed.
“But as long as you overcome that — put them in the right situation — then they’ve got just as good a chance to succeed as anyone,” Moretti continued.
This upcoming fight will gauge just where Adames is at this point. If he’s ready for the next step, then he’ll have the opportunity on Saturday to prove it in front of the world.
“This is pretty much the fight that I need to get myself ready for the bigger fights,” Adames said. “But I’m ready for any challenge or title fight coming up. Whenever they say I’m ready, I’m fine with it.”