The Fire Inside
“At first, I hated it because, like anyone, I wanted to be undefeated. I wanted to have a perfect record. But when it doesn’t happen, what are you going to do? I think that’s a nice metaphor for life. When you fail once, are you just going to quit? Perfection exists, but it’s very rare, and if that isn’t my course, I can’t do anything about it. So I took my breaks in the pro ranks, fighting against the grain, and those lessons gave me the knowledge I can use today. I always tell my fighters in the gym, it’s not about the setback: it’s about the bounce-back.”
If anyone understands the trials and tribulations in the rough world of the fight game, it’s Steve Claggett (28-6-2), a junior welterweight from Calgary, Alberta. Claggett turned pro at nineteen after going 24-5 as an amateur and the challenges he has faced since have served as great teachers, helping “The Dragon” develop the resiliency and determination essential for success in the ruthless business that is pro boxing.
“After I lost my first fight in the Philippines, I came back and six months later, I won the Canadian title. Later I took another loss in Edmonton, but then a couple of months after, I won the North American title. So there’s ups and downs but, overall, I’m happy with what boxing has created inside of me. And because of the lessons I’ve learned, I know I will be able to help up-and-coming fighters down the road. I feel like a young veteran now. I took my bumps and bruises early so I have knowledge of the game I would never have gotten if I hadn’t had those challenges. And now I’m in a great spot. I’m with the best promoter in the country, and competing in a tournament with the best fighters in the country.”
Claggett refers to the “Four Aces” round-robin tournament promoted by Eye of the Tiger Management, with the four top super lightweights in Canada battling to see who is number one. All boxers will face each other at least once, with a scoring system that awards three points for a knockout or unanimous decision, two points for a split-decision, and one point for a draw. Ultimately one fighter will be left standing and that winner receives fifty grand, on top of their purses for the fights, in addition to significantly improving their world ranking.
Claggett is ecstatic to be a part of the tournament and has every intention of making a massive statement. “For me, as a fighter, it’s beautiful because I am a man of preparation. You better believe I have been studying these guys every day. I think preparation is the key to success, and this tournament allows me to prepare as much as I want. And it’s against the best in the country, so everybody wins. The fans get the best fights; the boxers get to bring their absolute best to the ring. And mark my words, you are going to see my absolute best.”
Besides Claggett, the tournament competitors include David Theroux (16-3), Yves Ulysse Jr. (18-2), and Mathieu Germain (18-1-1) and the first round of bouts take place this Saturday in Rimouski, Quebec. On that card, Claggett will be taking on Theroux in the co-feature, while Ulysse and Germain square off in the main event.
Even though Theroux is the least known of the four fighters, Claggett refuses to overlook him. “I think he’s going to be hungry because people are looking at him as the underdog. But not me. I know what it’s like to be the underdog and I know he’s going to have a fire that only comes when people tell you you can’t do something. So I know he’s going to bring his best, but unfortunately for him, I am also full of fire. And I am going into this as if people see me as the underdog because I have some scores to settle.”
Those “scores” are Claggett’s past battles with Ulysse and Germain. “The Dragon” defeated Ulysse by split decision in their first encounter in 2017, but then lost the rematch by unanimous decision two years later. Between those two fights, Claggett battled Germain to an exciting draw at the Montreal Casino. Given his history with two of the three tournament competitors, Claggett is highly motivated as he heads into a make-or-break stretch of his career.
“I am excited to fight Germain because I want to set the score straight. On top of that, I want to fight Yves because we’re 1-1, and that was everything. I feel like I won that fight, and they took it from me, so I want that back. For both those guys, I have massive fire and desire. I want to prove how much I can do because I don’t feel like I showed what I’m really capable of in those three fights, and I am still breaking through within myself. I think having the chance for full preparation before facing these guys again will truly bring out the best in me.
“My fire comes from inside because I want to be world champion. I’ve wanted that since I was eleven-years-old. When the world stopped this year, that gave me more fire because I got to prove to myself that I have the work ethic. Since my last fight, I haven’t stopped training and I can’t wait to show the improvements I’ve made. Like I say, it’s all about preparation, because a champion is one before he gets crowned. I don’t know where the rankings are going to go or what’s going to be official when this tournament is done, but I am dead-set on my plan to be the first world champion from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.” — Jamie Rebner