Freeport junior middleweight Patrick Day figures to have a lot of eyes on him Friday when he takes on Guillermo Ibarra (11-4, 7 KOs) on the ESPN Friday Night Fights card at Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange, NJ.
One set of eyes will belong to veteran trainer and ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas, who will work the televised portion of the card.
Atlas, whose list of fighters includes a young Mike Tyson, Michael Moorer, Alexander Povetkin and Donny Lalonde, said he needs to see Day perform against better competition before he can make a final assessment.
In his last outing, Day (5-0-1, 2 KOs) fought to a draw against Urmat Ryskeldiev at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn.
“You don’t want to put him in there against Godzilla too early. I understand that,” Atlas told Newsday. “But he’s got a long way to go. But he’s 21 and has time to grow.”
Padding a young fighter’s early record comes with the territory in boxing. With more television money available (HBO, SHOWTIME, ESPN, FOXSPORTS 1, NBC Sports Network), fight promoters and managers are reluctant to put hot prospects in dangerous bouts too early, which could jeopardize the opportunity for future big money bouts.
Day’s competition through six fights raised a few concerns with Atlas.
Said Atlas: “They’ve carefully packaged him, so right now the record is very deceptive and not very telling. When you look at his record, you need to look at his last few fights. [Ryskeldiev’s] lost by knockout his two fights before Day, so that tells you he doesn’t have a lot of power. That tells you when he fights better guys he might struggle.”
His blunt assessment notwithstanding, Atlas does see some positives and believes Day could improve with more work in the Gym.
“He’s a willing kid that has some of the basics you’d want him to have,” Atlas said. “He’s has good fundamentals that are consistent with being a boxer.”
So when does a promoter and manager raise the level of competition for a prospect? There’s no simple answer, according to Atlas.
“A trainer just has to know when his fighter is ready,” Atlas said.
The next three or four fights should tell more of the story for Day.
“He’ll have close to 10 fights,” Atlas said. “By then he’ll probably be fighting more competitive guys and be ready to make a little bit of a move.”