When Carlos Negron first walked up to Luis Ortiz's gym and help prepare the Cuban for his March 2018 matchup against WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, he was unhappy with the way his career had gone up to that point.
Before getting the call to fight WBC heavyweight title contender Dominic Breazeale on December 22 as part of a PBC card televised on FOX, Negron's career started with plenty of promise but little opportunities to show for it.
Negron had represented Puerto Rico in the 2008 Olympics, won a couple of regional titles from the WBC and was coming off a win against battle-tested veteran Derric Rossy. So why was Negron not happy with the way things had gone for the Puerto Rican heavyweight?
"A lot of things happened with my previous promoter. I just spent my time training and training and training... Back then, one day all of a sudden, I get calls saying I would fight on this date only to hear that it isn’t set in stone and then it doesn’t happen. I was always a boxer who has had problems with promotional companies that have kept me out of action for years and now I’ve been hurt so much, but I love boxing so much, that I always held out hope," Negron told Fightful in an exclusive interview.
But despite being a part of a training camp featuring an elite heavyweight, Negron's career was spiraling into obscurity and admitted he was considering leaving the sport for good. Negron would repeatedly call many moments of his career "a disappointment" as he essentially had to restart his career on a number of occasions.
The 31-year-old's pro career started off well enough. Negron won his first 13 fights, two of which happened at Madison Square Garden, and finished most of his fights inside the distance.
But the first "disappointment" in Negron's career was his first pro loss: a third-round TKO loss to former light heavyweight title challenger Epifanio Mendoza in 2011. That loss would be the start of several restarts on the once-promising prospects life in boxing's paid ranks.
The second "disappointment" in Negron's career was the four years of barely getting an opportunity to climb back into the heavyweight rankings after his first and only pro loss. Negron would fight just once in the span of more than 25 months since that loss and after that lengthy absence, he would spend 24 more months between 2013 and 2015 out of the ring. It got to the point, where Negron seriously considered leaving boxing for good.
"I spoke to my previous manager and told him I’ve been disappointed so many times on whether I would get a fight or not, I might as well just go work," Negron said.
His career was so mismanaged, according to him, that his fight schedule didn't allow him to work on his skills and improve. Instead, he had to basically start each training camp as if he was starting out for the first time. But there was no consistency in his career. If anything, the only thing that was consistent in his life was how inconsistent it was.
In 2016, Negron won the WBC FECARBOX heavyweight title and instead getting his career to the next level, Negron was placed in a fight against Alexis Castillo, who came into the fight with a 0-33 record just six days later.
Even after winning the biggest fight of his pro career, a fourth-round TKO victory over Rossy to win the WBC Continental Americas heavyweight title, there was no long-term plan to get him to the top of a division undergoing a Renaissance spearheaded by Wilder, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. Negron had not fought since that June 2017 win over Rossy.
Enter Jay Jimenez, Ortiz's manager, who saved Negron from being one of many boxers who had their careers ruined by promoters. After a good look at Negron's abilities in camp with Ortiz, Jimenez knew he was someone with potential.
Jimenez bought out Negron's promotional contract and since then, Negron became part of King Kong Promotions with the hope of finally realizing the expectations that many in Puerto Rico had bestowed upon him.
The original plan wasn't supposed to be a fight against Breazeale, the mandatory challenger to Wilder's world title. Negron was suppose to work off the ring rust and build his way up to a big fight someday. But when the option to fight Breazeale on national television came up for Negron, he and his team knew he was ready.
"Thanks to God who had a plan for me and just when I didn’t want to plan on boxing anymore, I got a call from Jay Jimenez who wanted to buy out my promotional contract. They negotiated and Jay bought out my contract and here we are... When you have a manager and a trainer, and I don’t mean to sound arrogant, that see you hit the mitts the way I’ve been hitting them, when they saw my potential in the gym and saw my desire, they said, ‘You’re not fit for these small fries. You are big and ready for the top fights.’ Of course I’m big. I’m 6’6” [laughs]. They weren’t thinking in small fights. They’re now thinking of major fights. I’m here because I want to be the world champion," Negron said.
With how his career has turned out, Negron understands that his next fight could be his final chance at becoming a player in the heavyweight division. Negron still has dreams of becoming the world heavyweight champion and the first step in his final attempt at doing so begins with Breazeale.
"My moment’s arrived. I think this is the moment I’ve been waiting for a long time and that moment has finally come to light. This will be the moment where people recognize Carlos Negron, the man from Villalba, in action and show that I can knock out Dominic Breazeale and show I have what it takes to be a top contender and reach my goals which is to become a world champion," Negron said.
Negron's fight will be the opening bout on the televised portion of the card that will be headlined by Jermall Charlo vs. Matt Korobov for the interim WBC middleweight title.