It was less than two weeks ago that V.I. heavyweight boxer Clayton Laurent Jr. received word of a potential fight in Puerto Rico. Within a couple of days, the details were confirmed and just last Wednesday, the 28-year old boarded a plane and prayed that he would be returning home to celebrate his third professional win.
He did, despite the hurried arrangements.
“For a fight, it was extremely short notice,” Laurent said before heading off. “But I talked to my dad, talked to my team, we prayed about it, and once we scouted my opponent a little bit, we decided it was a good idea.”
Making the decision easier was Laurent’s continuous training routine, which he has maintained since his August bout against Sherman Artis Jr., who he knocked out in the second round to improve to 2-0.
Over the past few months, Laurent dropped from 330 to 289 pounds, while the opponent he faced Friday, Kenny Cruz Carasquillo (3-3-1), was a natural cruiserweight who recently started competing at the heavyweight level.
“We had actually sparred together in Puerto Rico,” said Laurent, who, as an amateur, fought for the Puerto Rico Hurricanes in the World Series of Boxing. “Once I saw him Thursday at the weigh-in, I knew exactly who he was and I knew he would try to get me to make some of the same mistakes I made back then as an amateur. But I’ve grown since then, and I was ready to show him.”
Stepping into the ring Friday night at the Coliseo Ruben Zayaz Montanez in Puerto Rico, Laurent was able to prove his mettle by maintaining a steady rhythm of jabs and combinations through four rounds. This was the first time he had gone the distance – both Laurent’s bout with Artis and his first professional fight in 2017 ended with quick TKOs – and while Laurent spoke after of being disoriented by a series of head butts thrown by Carasquillo throughout the bout, he knew the win lay in the number of punches he was able to land.
The judges agreed. While one ended up calling the fight a draw, the other two found Laurent’s defense kept Carasquillo from continuously connecting, which is exactly what Laurent and step-father Julian Jackson were counting on.
“What went right for me was the plan: stick to the jab, use good intellect, use good movement and then let my punches come off after a good defense,” Laurent said after being announced the winner. “There were a few times he hit me a lot of head butts and it kind of disoriented me for a little bit because it wasn’t something I was used to so I lost my rhythm a little, but definitely got it back and used good boxing skills.”
In a statement after the fight, promoter Lou DiBella also applauded Laurent’s performance, crediting a good application of pressure and boxing combos.
Asked Saturday what his next move is, Laurent said he plans to work off some soreness with a few days of rest before hitting the gym again Monday or Tuesday.
“You never know when Mr. DiBella will call,” he said, adding that his hope is for four more fights in the new year. “I want to be a champion, that’s the plan. And I’m going to do whatever it takes.”