After getting cut from his high school freshman basketball team, Mike Jones turned his full attention to boxing, and he’s been a one-sport guy ever since. Philadelphia’s welterweight prospect Jones recently answered six questions in anticipation of his fight against Irving Garcia, a 12-round main event bout on ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday, July 9, live on SHOWTIME ® (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) from the ballroom at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall.
Jones, 27, puts his perfect (21-0, 17 KOs) on the line against Puerto Rico’s Garcia (17-4-3, 8 KOs), while promising, once-beaten Antwone Smith (18-1-1, 10 KOs) of Miami, Fla., will face Houston’s Lanardo Tyner (23-3, 14 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight tussle in an exciting co-feature.
The fight is being promoted by Peltz Boxing Promotions in association with DiBella Entertainment.
You’ve been trained and managed by the same people since you turned pro. Has that consistency helped you?
Yeah, Vaughn Jackson is my trainer and Jim Williams and Doc Nowicki are my managers. They’ll all be in my corner. I’m just really comfortable with them and it’s been great to have the same guys around and to just have that familiarity. They do their jobs pretty well, which is to make sure I’m ready for each of my fights. I’ve been in better shape for each [consecutive] fight.
You fight in one of boxing’s toughest divisions. Who would you like to fight most in the future?
I’ll fight anyone. Throw them in there with me. There’s been word that I might fight Antwone Smith if we both win on Friday night. I won’t be watching his fight Friday, but I’ll have it Tivo’ed and will catch it later.
You come from boxing-rich Philadelphia. Do you feel any added pressure being from an area that has produced some great world champions like Joe Frazier and Bernard Hopkins, just to name two?
There’s no pressure. I’ve worked at Joe Frazier’s gym and he trained me as an amateur and I’ve worked out with his son Marvis. They’re great guys. But I was actually a Muhammad Ali fan growing up. I’ve sparred with Bernard’s nephew Demetrius. There are a lot of great ones that have come through here. There’s never a shortage of boxing talk in the barbershops.
Did you play in any other sports growing up?
I was actually a basketball player. I didn’t start boxing until I was 15 after I got cut from the high school team. I thought I was going to play for the 76ers but I knew some guys who boxed and I found out I was good at it and just kept going. I could dunk when I was a kid, but basketball and the other sports I played weren’t rough enough.
You’ve fought in Atlantic City the last five fights. You must be on a first-name basis with some of the ushers by now.
Yeah, it’s pretty exciting fighting there. I have a lot of fans that come out that have seen me fight before so you start to develop a little bit of a following. It’s an electric venue. These are my fans and they expect greatness from me. That’s what I’m going to give them on Friday night.
What did you do last Monday (June 28) on Mike Jones Day in Newtown, Pa.?
(Laughing) Not a lot. It’s not my hometown but it’s close to it. I always go up there and train at the Newtown Athletic Club. It’s pretty nice to be recognized by them.
Curt Menefee will call the action on Friday night from ringside with Steve Farhood and Antonio Tarver serving as expert analysts. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Chuck McKean directing.