Fast rising Chinese-Canadian welterweight prospect Steve ‘The Dragon’ Claggett (15-1-1, 10 KOs) will fight in his home province of Alberta, Canada for the first time in nearly a year this Saturday, March 2nd when he faces once beaten Alexandre Lepelley (10-1-1, 3 KOs) of France. The bout will take place at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton as the main event of KO Boxing’s “Triple Threat” card. It will mark the 2013 debut for 23-year old Claggett who has spent a year as a permanent fixture at Las Vegas’s renowned Mayweather Boxing Club.
“My time down here in Vegas has done so much for me,” Claggett said this week. “Not just as a fighter but as a person. I’ve grown a lot. I’ve had the chance to train with guys that I used to watch and idolize when I was younger. I’ve constantly upped my level of training over and over and I’m still going up. Coming to train in Vegas was the best decision I could’ve made for my career. The Mayweather Gym is awesome, filled with good people and friends, and it feels like home now.”
While Boxing is booming in Eastern Canada, Claggett grew up learning his craft with long-time coach and friend Eric de Guzman of Teofista Stables in Calgary, Alberta, some three thousand kilometers from the pugilistic hotbed of Montreal. In 2012, instead of looking east, the young Canuck packed up and moved south of the border to Las Vegas where he immediately began to turn heads at what has quickly become one of the most well known boxing gyms in the world.
“He’s not like the typical Canadian fighters that I’ve seen,” ace trainer Roger Mayweather said of the young Canadian. “He’s got some slickness to him. I know because I’ve seen him spar some top guys down here and he’s done very well.”
The culture at the gym has done wonders for Claggett who routinely spends months at a time working with and training alongside some of the best fighters in the world. Under the watchful eye of veteran trainer Tony Martin, Claggett has spent months sparring five time world champion Zab Judah who now seeks him out as his primary sparring partner when preparing for a fight.
Celestino Caballero, Jessie Vargas, Urbano Antillon and Kofi Jantuah are just a few more of the name Claggett has spent a great deal of time locking horns with in his time spent maturing south of the border. World champions and top contenders are just part of the crowd at the Las Vegas stronghold, but none compare to aura and example set by the gym’s owner and most famous resident.
“I’ve sparred in front of Floyd,” Claggett said. “I was sparring a Commonwealth Champion and when I climbed out of the ring at the end he said ‘Great work’. The pressure that comes with that kind of audience is similar to being in a real fight but at the end of the day it has helped me become more and more calm come fight night.”
The proof has been in the pudding, and the hard work and dedication has already began to payoff. In his last outing on Oct. 19, 2012, Claggett took a step up and accepted the biggest fight of his life coming in as the opponent to highly touted southern California welterweight Ricky Duenas in his hometown of Ontario, just outside Los Angeles. The once-beaten knockout artist was being courted by Thompson Promotions and was a heavy favorite going into the bout against Claggett, who many of the Los Angeles area fans and media were unfamiliar with.
Duenas caught Claggett in the first round with a shot that knocked him down for the first time in his life, but the Canadian showed great poise and heart to rise and come roaring back. In the second the Canadian flattened the local fighter with a huge right hand and completely took over the fight. Claggett punished Duenas for two more rounds, decking him in the fourth with another plumb of a right that ultimately caused the hometown corner to throw in the towel.
The win really put the Canadian on the map as nearly every major boxing media outlet was on hand to praise the surprise winner of that evening’s main event.
Claggett spent the duration of 2012 working in Las Vegas, and in the new year returned to camp with Zab Judah as he began to prepare for his (now postponed) bout with Danny Garcia.
When the opportunity to return home to Alberta came up, Claggett jumped on it.
“Coming home is always fun,” he said. “Things change and I’ve been away for a while but sacrifice is part of the plan. Everyone coming to the fight in Edmonton on March 2 should expect a whole new fighter. I’m going to showcase new skills, more speed, better defense and my power has really developed in the last year. I feel like I’m representing the Mayweather Boxing Club so I’m coming to win. Nothing but that result is acceptable.”
Promoted by KO Boxing, “Triple Threat” is scheduled for Saturday, March 2nd, 2013 at 07:00 p.m. MST at the Shaw Conference Centre (9797 Jasper Ave. NW) in Edmonton, Canada. The card is also set to feature fast rising Canadian light heavyweight Steve Franjic and local favorite Suki Keo in addition to several other exciting western Canadian fighters.