One of my favorite moments covering Inkster, Mich. native J’Leon Love was a few weeks after perhaps his biggest win to date as a professional.
Love had overcome a fifth-round knockdown one fight prior before returning to defeat tough former title challenger Marco Antonio Periban over ten rounds on May 3 inside of the MGM Grand. That victory was a benchmark performance at the time for Love, as it opened the pay-per-view telecast featuring Floyd Mayweather’s victory over Marcos Maidana.
Speaking at the local Golden Gloves a few weeks after that harrowing triumph, Love reflected emotionally on his early days in the city.
Love first moved to Las Vegas in late 2011 and by the first quarter of the following year he had become a fixture at Floyd Mayweather’s personal gym.
Mayweather was then prepping for his May 2012 duel with Miguel Cotto and Love was brought in as one of his chief sparring mates.
The two men clicked following some brisk work with one another and it was obvious to anyone in the gym during those times that Love and Mayweather were forming a bond with one another.
“You know what?” Love reflected while at the tournament. “He always just thanked us for being in there working and helping him out. After, he started speaking to us and telling us a lot.
For Love, studying a legend was a priceless opportunity.
“Just what it took, what keeps him driven,” Love said of Floyd’s work ethic. “I just took all of that. Then, just watching him. Watching him the mitts and the bag for like an hour and 30 minutes straight.”
Fast forward a little over two years later and Love found himself the centerpiece of Mayweather Promotions, as he carried his 18-1 record with 10 knockouts into the ring against unheralded but resilient Rogelio ‘Porky’ Medina on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
While Love has shown loads of resiliency and grit in the past, this wasn’t to be his night, as Medina clipped him with a compact left hook in the third round that put him down for the count.
It was a tough scene to watch and emotions ran deep in the dressing room as Love’s friends and family consoled him.
And while this may be a tough pill to swallow, it was a beautiful thing to see Love so engaged with friends afterwards, even taking to social media to thank his fans.
It’s that kind of temperament that makes Love an endearing guy and it makes me look back at one of my favorite quotes from him.
“It’s worth it at the end of the day. This is all worth it. And the end of the day I think about that and I just continue to grind.”
Chris Robinson can be reached at CRobinson@hustleboss.com