By Rick Scharmberg
Photos: Rick Scharmberg and Greg Sterns
This Friday, January 25, Amir “Hardcore” Mansour (16-0, 12 KOs) returns to the ring to face Dominique “Diamond” Alexander (23-15-1, 11 KOs) in the ten round heavyweight main event at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover, Delaware. Mansour will be looking to shake off some ring rust after sitting out 2012 with some legal issues. Even though his fight with Alexander is considered a comeback fight, Mansour is in no position to take anyone lightly. “I train the same way for every fight; like it’s a championship fight. I take nobody for granted. I expect him to fight me hard,” said Mansour of his opponent. “He has been aware of this fight since August, and I expect him to be ready to fight his heart out.”
The road hasn’t been easy for Amir Mansour. Turning pro in 1997, Mansour compiled a 9-0, 6 KO record before being sent up on a narcotics conviction. He received a stiffer sentence that most get for such a crime, but made the most of it.
While doing his time, Amir met and befriended Calvin “Strictly Business” Davis, a lightweight who was going places before having his own struggles with the law. Together, they kept each other’s spirits up, and even drummed up ways to box. Using makeshift gloves, and a large closet for a ring, they were able to spar and shadow box the time away, while maintaining their physical conditioning.
After serving eight years, Mansour was released to a halfway house, and made the local news when he resumed his boxing career on the very same day, scoring a second round KO over Samuel Brown on August 27, 2010.
Mansour reeled off five highlight reel knockouts, before stepping up to face former contender Dominick Guinn. Mansour nailed Guinn with titanic bombs in every round, but amazingly could not drop him.
“I hit him with shots that guys got carried out on a stretcher with, and he just shook his head,” recalls Mansour. “He can take a shot.”
Mansour shut Guinn out over the ten-round distance, and by doing so proved to himself and everyone else that he wasn’t just a knockout artist.
“I was glad to go the distance in order to show that I had ten or twelve rounds in me,” he said.
In his next – and most recent – bout, on December 2, 2011, Amir picked up a minor title to go with his NABO belt when he scored a sixth round TKO over tricky Epifiano Mendoza. Shortly thereafter, Mansour was sent back to prison for a few months after inadvertently violating his parole, forcing him to vacate his coveted NABO title and the top-ten world ranking that went with it.
Released in mid-2012, Amir got right back in the gym. “I feel great,” he said. “It hasn’t been that long. I’ve been training since July, staying on the low. I got back on July 12, and I started training on July 16. I am with my original trainer, Howard Mosley.”
With his bald pate, lean but muscular physique, and stalking southpaw style, Amir Mansour reminds you of a heavyweight Marvin Hagler. His hand speed and brutal power brings to mind a southpaw version of Mike Tyson. He hits that hard.
“That’s my spirit in the ring,” stated Mansour when asked where his intensity comes from. “I am a forward moving fighter and I don’t back up unless I want to back up. I’ve been lucky enough not to have gotten clipped on my way in, but I’m faster on my feet than the average heavyweight and I have good head movement.”
Now Mansour wants to reclaim what he believes is his. “There isn’t a heavyweight here in America that can beat me. For the most part, their handlers know that. In interviews they say they will fight, but they all end up turning me down,” he said.
“I was supposed to fight Seth Mitchell for the NABO title, but they didn’t want to fight us. As soon as I vacated, he fought for it. I am not impressed. Guys like that they promote as the best thing, but they end up getting knocked out on the [HBO] network in two rounds,” Mansour continued.
So who does he want to fight?
“Johnathan Banks. And I’ve wanted to fight Adamek for the longest time. Anyone in the top-five is who I want to fight. I’ve knocked on enough of these guy’s doors and they turned us down, and it wasn’t because of money,” said Mansour. “Johnathan Banks is the one to beat. I want to fight the best.”
Mansour has his sights on highly-ranked Banks, but would jump at the chance to fight Seth Mitchell, should Mitchell defeat Banks in their rematch in February. He feels that Mitchell hasn’t paid his dues in the sport for him to be ranked where he is.
“Seth played football, and with helmet to helmet contact, concussions occur. He played linebacker and was a big hitter. But his knees are blown, and when his body no longer allowed him to play football, he jumps in the ring – news flash! He can’t take a punch from a guy like me if he can’t take one from a small heavyweight like Johnathan Banks. He’s been exposed. The element of surprise is gone.”
When he was asked what his take was on the heavyweight division, Mansour said, “They are recycling heavyweights. The last ten opponents the Klitschko’s beat, they already fought. And when they try to fight someone new, they try to put a guy like Tyson Fury in with Klitschko. That fight didn’t happen, but it was sanctioned. Look at Alexander Povetkin. He is the heavyweight champion, and he just fought Hasim Rahman! Why not fight Amir Mansour? I would love to make that fight”
Mansour is on the fast track and looking to make up for lost time. He wants to fight and beat a contender next and position himself squarely in the title picture once again, now that the Klitschko’s careers are winding down.
“One year from now I hope to be right on the brink of fighting somebody for a major world title,” he said.
When he is not in the ring, Amir enjoys relaxing with his friends and family. “I love fishing, being with my kids, friends and family,” he said. “I’m also trying to learn this real estate game to focus on when I’m done boxing.”
Mansour is truly appreciative and loyal to those who stood by him through the tough times, such as longtime manager Keith Stoffer, and the promotional staff at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, who promoted six of his seven comeback bouts to this point.
“People in Delaware, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C., and Virginia, I’m humble and in awe at the support you gave me. You never turned your backs on me, and continue to support me. It is overwhelming. You give me strength every time I go into the ring,” stated Mansour.
Tickets for the Mansour – Alexander card are priced from $40 to $200 and can be purchased by calling 1-800-711-5882.