For those who don't know me, they've call me "The Ghost" since I was little.
I started as an amateur at about nine years old, and I was so fast, I'd be there and I'd be gone. One of the coaches said, 'You can't see the punches coming, he's there and then he's not! He's like a ghost!' And the name stuck!
About me, I'm the IBF featherweight champ, with a 20-1-1 record. I'm 5-9. I've been married to Casey for two years and we have two kids, a two-year-old daughter, and a five month-old son. We live in Gilroy, California.
I'm fighting on September 15th, on the Marquez/Juarez undercard, in Las Vegas, against Martin Honorio (24-3-1). My wife gets nervous about me fighting, but she respects the sport and knows it's what I love to do. It's awesome to have a wife who respects your passion.
My last fight was in February, in Denmark, against Spend Abazi, for the vacant IBF featherweight championship. Going to Denmark, it semed like Rocky V, like going to Russia.
It was a one sided crowd. I've gotten booed before but...the only people there cheering for me were in my corner and I couldn't hear them!
I did what I needed to do, and got the job done (TKO9). I dropped him in the third and the fifth. I worked behind my jab. He was taking a lot of punishment. After the fight, the crowd applauded me, they respected what I'd done.
My first loss, against Gamaliel Diaz in 2005, was devastating to me. I'd had several straight knockouts in a row and the loss was heartbreaking. But it made me a better fighter. I bounced back and went to the gym and understood what I did wrong. It lit a bigger fire under me. Six months later I stopped him.
My second loss was to Orlando Salido in November but the result was overturned after he tested positive for steroids.
For that fight, I was in the greatest shape and I hit him with some shots, I couldn't believe he was still standing. Every round, he was stronger, faster. It didn't cross my mind at the time he was on steroids. But I was thinking, 'How's he keeping up this pace?' I took my hat off to him before I found out he was on steroids. But man it was like I was a BB gun shooting a bull.
I'm a Christian, I have a lot of faith. The first thing I did after the fight was pray, and I knew everything would be alright. Three days later, I heard he tested positive. God brings all evil to light. Being on steroids, that's evil in you. I was angry about it. It mad me mad, it was on a PPV show, Mayweather/Baldomir, and the casual fan maybe didn't know the story afterwards. Being on steroids, on an enhancer, it's like bringing a gun in. I lost respect for Salido. Guys like that shouldn't be in boxing.
My next fight is against Honorio, he's tall, lanky. He comes to fight, it'll be a great fight. Mexican fighters when they get a title shot, they aren't hungry, they're starving.
To close, I want to ask everyone, the readers, to pay attention to every weight class. The fighters must interact with the fans, and the press, not just for us, but for all of boxing. My motto is, I'll fight anybody. I want to go to 130, fight Pacquiao, Barrera, Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Juarez, all the big names. You fight the big names, your name gets bigger. I want to fight champions, and unify. The fans deserve that and boxing deserves it.
For all the more casual fans, read up on the boxers, not just the top level guys. Follow the undercards, the amateurs. it's a great sport. And to see it rise to the top is fullfilling. We have to give back to the sport and that means by fighting the big fights.
I thank TheSweetScience.com for following the sport so closely, and building the fighters up. It's an honor to get the chance to speak to the press. Email your friends, and tell them to check out TheSweetScience.com!
----as told to Michael Woods
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV