He went to Las Vegas five years ago to make a name for himself in the boxing world and now he says:
“I’m a regular rock star!”
Unfortunately – at least when it comes to his recent fight resume – Daquan Mays was talking about his life outside the ring.
“Besides boxing, my life is wild,” the Trotwood Madison grad who left here with a budding amateur reputation said with a laugh as we spoke by phone from Vegas a few days ago.
“When I came here I was just 19 and I was on my own, but I had a plan. Part of it was the survive and enjoy myself no matter what was going on and I have. I’m well connected to a lot of clubs. I love to party, to kick it, to hang out with my friends.”
But that’s not to say he hasn’t immersed himself in boxing, too.
Last summer he worked as a sparring partner for Floyd Mayweather — a world champ at five weight classes, who retired 50-0 and was ranked the greatest pound-for-pound boxer in the past 25 years by ESPN – when he prepared for his lucrative fight with Conor McGregor.
Mays said he also was a sparring mate of other world champs, including Jorge Linares, the former champ at three weight classes, and Jessie Vargas and Zab Judah, both former champs in two weight divisions.
He also was involved in the World Series of Boxing and had amateur bouts in China, Algeria and France. But that was over four years ago.
His last time in the ring was the Olympic Trials qualifier he lost on a disputed decision in 2015.
He hasn’t fought in almost three years and still has not had a pro fight.
Along the way proposed management deals with Mayweather Promotions, Mike Tyson and Top Rank either fell through or never materialized, he said. Various attempts at a pro debut – in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Cincinnati and Dayton – never happened either.
“Sometimes I felt the promoter didn’t have things lined up the way I thought they should be,” he said. “Once my opponent didn’t show.
“I had my down moments along the way and was depressed about it, but I got through it. I realize boxing has its ups and downs and I know one thing for sure:
“If you want to be anything in life, you have to fight for it.”
And Saturday night – finally – that’s what he will be doing in Indianapolis.
In his pro debut, Mays will meet Mundo Martinez in a four-round lightweight bout on the undercard of the Midwest Boxing Showcase put on by 4 Champs Promotions at The Factory. (Tickets $30 at door, first bout at 7 p.m.)
Martinez, a 33-year-old from South Bend, has lost both of his pro fights by knockout.
Mays, who said he now manages himself, admitted he put up his own money to buy a spot on the card.
“I’m finally trying to take my career into my own hands,“ he said. “I’m excited the way things are finally coming together.”
Although he did the bulk of his preparation for this fight in Las Vegas, he has trained this week at the MPower Gym, the Vandalia fight club owned by Will Ashcraft and Mike Baker.
When Mays meets Martinez Saturday night, he will have former Dayton trainers – Ron Daniels and Craig Thurman – working his corner.”
“After this I’m hoping to fight almost once a month for the rest of the year,” he said. “I think I’m ready to take off.”
Off to Vegas
He began his career training at the Trotwood gym then run by Chris Pearson’s father Milt.
Mays showed some real flair early on when he won a pair of Ohio State Fair titles, was one of the featured boxers at the 2010 amateur show at Fifth Third Field and was accepted in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Education Center program at Northern Michigan University.
It was a program that was meant to develop Olympic caliber boxers while allowing them to work toward a college degree. But before he got there, the program went through a reorganization process and he ended up never going.
“My dad wanted me to get an education and a regular job,” Mays said. “He didn’t really support the boxing that much back then, but his plan wasn’t for me. I knew I had a gift in my boxing ability and I was going to commit to it.
“Finally I made the decision. I broke up with my girlfriend, quit arguing with my dad and I went to Vegas.”
He followed another stablemate — Will Clemons — out there and soon Pearson was in Vegas, too, launching his much-anticipated pro career.
At the time, though, Pearson was under a managerial contract with the well-connected but often controversial Al Haymon, the former music promoter whose list of boxing clients included 60 champs and up-and-coming fighters.
Mays, meanwhile, was on his own.
“A lot of guys really didn’t take me serious at first, but I kept working on my craft and after a while I got work with a lot of people – a lot of world champs – and I beat the mess out of some of ‘em, too,” he said with a laugh.
He now trains at both the City Athletic Gym and the Mayweather Boxing Club — both in Vegas — and said he worked for a month helping prep Mayweather for his McGregor fight and the reported $300 million payday Floyd got from it.
“I hate to ride his coattails, but when you work with Floyd — and he’s the best boxer out there — people look at you differently,” Mays said. “They know you’re real.”
Late start on pro career
Although he’s now 25, Mays said he doesn’t worry that he’s getting a late start on his pro career:
“To me, boxing isn’t as much a young man’s game or an old man’s game as it is a thinking man’s sport,” he said.
“I’m ready to go about boxing the right way now and I’m trying to work on other things, too.
“I’ve got a cleaning business out here. I’m certified in marble cleaning. The prices are crazy — $4 a square foot, $8 a square foot. You know how much marble there is in Vegas?
“Like I told you, ‘I’m a thing man’.”
And a rock star, too.
Now, if he just can become that pro boxer many thought he would be.