With a new year comes hope and promise. For 20-year old light middleweight Patrick Day, 2013 marks the start of a promising boxing career as the top ranked 152-pound amateur boxer in the nation prepares to make his pro debut at BB King Blues Club & Grill in Manhattan on January 23. We continue with our visit to the Freeport P.A.L. Boxing Gym and the introduction of Patrick "All" Day in this edition of Boxing 101.
Day, who lives across the street from gym owner and coach Joe Higgins in Freeport, New York, experimented with boxing as a child but was not committed to pursuing it until the observant coach recognized the young man's talent and drew him into the gym when he was 14 years old. By the time he was 19, Day (75-5) had become a four-time New York Metropolitan champion and won the 2012 New York Golden Gloves, the 2012 USA Boxing National championship, the Long Island and New York championships and silver medals in the Northeast Regionals and 2012 Olympic Trial Qualifier. Additionally, he served as an alternate to Errol Spence in the 2012 Olympic Games last summer.
The volume of work involved with these tournaments is rather striking, with Day competing five straight days against the nation’s best regional champions at Fort Carlson, Colorado Army Base last March to win the USA Boxing National championship. When he competed in the last chance qualifier in July 2011 for the U.S. boxing team Olympic trials in Cincinnati, Day boxed six straight days, winning five in a row before losing a very close final to secure a silver medal and a national ranking.
"It's a lot of sacrifice and total dedication. You have to go to another state and commit your whole week to that tournament. Every second that you're there, that's what it's all about. Having to fight 5-6 days in a row is a lot of wear and tear on your body but it's more mental wear and tear so it's mind over matter," explained Day.
"I just think about how badly I want it. Just being away from home, I didn't get on a plane and fly three hours to lose. That's what drives me all week, just thinking about all of the hard work Joe [Higgins] and I put in the gym," said Day, who gives much of the credit of his success to his tough-minded coach.
The mental fortitude that Day developed as an amateur is expected to serve him well as he transitions to the pros and prepares to adjust to the differences that exist at that level.
"It's more mental having to fight my nerves to get ready to take the headgear off," said Day who believes he is physically prepared for his first four-round pro bout against former kickboxer Zachariah Kelley (1-1, 1 KO).
Day is curious as to how much difference the smaller gloves that are used in the pros will actually have when he enters the ring, but he is optimistic that the professional scoring system will benefit him.
"There are some good advantages, like being able to take your time with a different scoring system. Power shots and knockdowns count more so it's not all about punch tally. You can find your comfort zone and land your shots better which fits my style more," said the elusive fighter who has stylistically been compared to Sugar Ray Leonard.
"I describe myself as a boxer-puncher. I like to find my openings with my movement and frustrate my opponent. When they're frustrated, then I just really get to work and dig in."
This movement was on full display during a six round sparring session where Day exhibited exceptional footwork, circling backwards with ease while sticking a straight jab followed by a three-punch combination under the watchful eye of Higgins who coached and encouraged the future star throughout the session.
While Day has had tremendous amateur success, he looks forward to showcasing even greater abilities as a pro and developing a taste for more knockouts, something that has somewhat limited him to this point given the structure of amateur scoring where body shots and knockdowns are not counted.
"It's all pitty pats and taps. I'm sick of it, personally," Day said of the amateur scoring system. "I'm ready to start hurting people cuz' I'm getting older and getting my man strength. I'm ready to land some hard body shots and stop some people."
Day, who has been given nicknames "The Haitian Sensation", "Sugar Ray Day" and "Straight-A Day", will be campaigning at 154 pounds as a pro and is hopeful he can proudly represent the future of the light middleweight division, one that is currently among the most heavily stacked in boxing.
"In five years I hope to be just as far as I can in the professional ranks. Hopefully, a world champion by the age of 25 but I can't get too ahead of myself. There's some tough guys out there but I feel like I'm more skilled than all of them," the ambitious young fighter told Boxing 101. "I feel like they just have toughness and ring experience because they're all older guys with a lot of fights, but I feel like skill-wise no one's really that polished anymore in the pros these days. I feel like that's where I'm going to shine."
A straight-A student who graduated from Freeport High School in 2010 as a member of the National Honor Society, Day has been equally skilled and disciplined outside of the ring. He is currently majoring in Nutrition at Nassau Community College to pursue his second passion.
"He has never played another sport competitively and he's an honor student. It's very rare to have done so well," Higgins said of Day's success in boxing. "Seanie [Monaghan] is the star of Long Beach and Patrick will be the star of Freeport."
Boxing 101 thanks Joe, Sean and Patrick for taking time out of their busy training schedules to spend time with us. We wish them all the best in their upcoming bouts and look forward to following their respective careers.
Also:Boxing, Freeport P.A.L. Boxing Gym, Joe Higgins, Patrick Day