Richardson Hitchins’ journey towards his first nationally televised fight didn’t come easy, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Growing up in Brooklyn, Hitchins was no stranger to fighting on the streets. There were days when he would he end up fighting older kids on the streets but even before learning the art of the sweet science, one could tell that he was born to be a fighter.
It wasn’t until Hitchins was 12 years old that a family friend recommended he take up boxing and after searching up boxing gyms in New York, he ended up going to Atlas Cops and Kids boxing gym in Brooklyn. The moment he first stepped into the gym and realized the people working and training at the gym would be like a second family to him, he was hooked.
“The gym I found was free and it was the best boxing gym in New York and it made the best amateurs in the nation. When I first stepped into the gym, I fell in love with the smell, putting on the gloves and the sport in general. It’s like a brotherhood there. It’s like when you first start out at high school and you find a group of friends that you stick with for the whole school year, so it was kind of like that going to the gym,” Hitchins told Fightful in an exclusive interview.
Hitchins was naturally gifted as a young boxer and even won a number of amateur tournaments before heading to the Olympics. But even that didn’t come easy. Hitchins failed to qualify representing the United States for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, yet managed to still secure a spot in the Olympics representing Haiti. When the time came for him to turn professional, Hitchins' future was tied to someone he had seen on television several years prior.
Like many boxers his age, one of the most prominent boxers they saw growing up was the undefeated multi-time world champion Floyd Mayweather. But it wasn’t his fights against Arturo Gatti, Ricky Hatton, Jose Luis Castillo or Oscar De La Hoya that Hitchins first saw Mayweather, it was in the wrestling ring when he had his feud with WWE’s Big Show at WrestleMania 24 in 2008.
In a sense, Hitchins feels it is poetic that he first saw Mayweather as a child on television, but now gets to fight for his promotional company Mayweather Promotions years later.
“It was a crazy situation. I remember I wasn’t sure if I was going to be signed by Mayweather but just wanted to get signed coming up. I felt like Mayweather Promotions stood out. I understand that he could take me to where I wanted to be," Hitchins said.
Now, representing Brooklyn, Hitchins heads to Las Vegas for his first fight on Showtime on November 1 against Kevin Johnson. Although a win over Johnson isn’t necessarily one that will make people believe he’s ready for a title shot, Hitchins views this fight as an opportunity to showcase his talents in front of an unsuspecting nation.
As 2019 comes to an end, Hitchins is targeting bigger fights for 2020 and a potential run at smaller titles as a stepping stone to becoming a true world title contender.
“I definitely want to step up in competition. By next year, I want to be fighting for a belt. Any belt, even the Intercontinental (a minor non-world title belt used in some of the major sanctioning bodies). I want to go and step up and face tougher competition. I want to fight at a championship level as soon as possible because I feel like I can fight world-class guys that can push me. I’m looking for that kind of fight. The world is going to get to see what I bring to the table and contribute to the sport," Hitchins said.
One thing about Hitchins is clear: he doesn’t want to spend years fighting run-of-the-mill journeymen just to pad his record. Hitchins is looking to be mentioned among other top boxers at his age, such as current world champions Devin Haney and Shakur Stevenson.
“With my skills, I feel like I need to keep on fighting mediocre guys just to pad my record. Just throw me into the wolves and watch me come out on top. I honestly think I’m the best young fighter in boxing. I’m up there with those other guys that keep getting talked about like Devin Haney and Shakur Stevenson. I feel like I’m a top caliber fighter like those guys," Hitchins said.
Hitchins vs. Johnson will take place on the November 1 edition of ShoBox: The New Generation from Sams Town Live in Las Vegas.