One of the most promising rising contenders in the middleweight division, Antoine Douglas, fights on Showtime’s Shobox Series this Saturday night, from the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Douglas is 17-0-1 with 11 KOs and faces fellow unbeaten, Istvan Szili of Hungary.
I saw three of Doulgas’ first 10 fights back in 2013, from ringside while covering cards at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. It was obvious at the time that I was watching a fighter with rare talent. With an extensive international amateur pedigree, Douglas was already a polished, highly skilled boxer.
Now 22, Douglas is poised to make a move towards the top of the middleweight division. His lone setback was a draw with Michel Soro almost exactly a year ago. Soro is an older, more experienced professional and a definite world-class fighter who has only lost to Zaurbek Baysangurov in a bid to capture the WBO junior middleweight title. Since drawing with Douglas, Soro has recorded a win against the tough, hard-punching Glen Tapia.
In that fight, Douglas’ inexperience may have cost him, as he faded somewhat in the later rounds. He has rebounded since then to knockout fellow unbeaten Thomas Lamanna last March.
Douglas has the kind of story that is good for boxing. Born to a drug addicted mother, his childhood was grim, filled with physical abuse and malnutrition. Yet he is part of a tight-knit group of siblings who hung together to become successful adults. His older brother was a role model for him and his sister Tyrieshia is an outstanding boxer in her own right. Like Antoine, she qualified for the Olympic trials in 2012, a very rare brother-sister accomplishment.
Douglas’ opponent, Szili, is a fighter I know very little about. He is 32 and has been a professional since he was 26. He has fought primarily in his adopted country of Switzerland and none of his opponents are names I recognize. He drew with Matteo Signani of Italy in May 2014, when he fought for the European Union middleweight belt. Overall, his record is 18-0-2 with just 8 KOs.
In video he looks like an educated counter puncher, but would seem to lack both the athleticism and power to deal with Douglas. Still, this could be a reasonably challenging fight for Douglas. He’s reached the point in his career where most of his fights probably will be.