Photo: Will Hart
By Diego Morilla
Among the dozens of shiny little belts being passed around in the world of boxing these days, the true meaning of the title “world champion” has lost its meaning for many people.
Thomas Dulorme is not one of them.
As a French-speaking native of the island of Saint Martin in his early childhood, and as a resident of Dominican Republic later on, Dulorme developed a strong connection to each of the island-nations where he lived.
But it wasn’t until he found a country of his own to fight for that he came to understand the global nature of his quest for a championship.
“Saint Martin is my origin, the place where I was born, but I lived in Puerto Rico since I was very young, and Puerto Rico has given me everything,” said Dulorme, during a recent telephone interview during the last leg of his training camp in his homeland, adopted or not. “I always represented Puerto Rico, but I love all Latinos.”
Dulorme (22-1, 14 KOs) will have a career-defining chance to represent his people this Saturday April 18th on a HBO Boxing After Dark split-side doubleheader, when he will face lightweight titlist Terence Crawford (25-0, 17 KOs), in what will be Dulorme’s first crack at a world title after being hailed as the next boxing idol to come out of Puerto Rico a few years ago.
Now, Dulorme is in the final stages of a full recovery after being stopped in an early crossroads fight by Argentine challenger Luis Abregu in 2012. But Dulorme has managed to amass a 6-0 winning streak since that fateful night, and the long-awaited title bout is surely a reward for the hard work he has put on since then.
For that, he has recruited a group of similarly globetrotting trainers and advisors to guide him through this challenge, in an effort to minimize the margin of error and to make the most out of an opportunity that many people thought should have come earlier in his career.
“I have a great team for this fight,” said Dulorme, naming people such as Anthony Otero, Felix Pagan Pintor, Oscar “Don Khan” Seary, and the team’s newest addition in Jose Rosa, a former Olympian in Montreal 1976, in what comprises a team that has a combined amount of years of experience in boxing that could easily rival any boxing team in the world. “Some of them give me some great pad work, some others are focusing on correcting mistakes, others are great at hand-wrapping. Each one gives me something different.”
The loss to Abregu, as devastating as it may have been, did leave a few lessons on Dulorme, and learning not to underestimate his opponents appears to be one of them. His new team provide him with just enough combined knowledge to keep him ahead of his challenge, and opens a new chance for him to fulfill his once-limitless promise of becoming the next great Puerto Rican boxing hero.
No stranger to traveling through uncharted territory to get to the promised land, Dulorme believes his chance to finally shine on the big stage is near.
“I think I am closer now,” said Dulorme, when asked about his dream of becoming the new face of the illustrious Puerto Rican boxing tradition. “I think that if I win on Saturday I will be on track to be a great champion and get the big fights. I only have to win on Saturday and remain focused looking ahead, and continue winning.”
That path, however, is not uncharted territory for Dulorme. As an accomplished amateur fighter who started boxing when he was little more than a toddler, Dulorme has won the Puerto Rico Golden Gloves, Saint Martin Golden Gloves and Dominican Republic Golden Gloves, winning 142 amateur fights and losing only 2 of them in the process.
Continuing his winning streak in this stage of his career will require him to summon all of that mojo and then some. And he has managed to find that inspiration in a particularly unnerving situation.
“He did say a few disrespectful comments about us Latinos and I got a bit angry about that,” said Dulorme about his public dispute with Crawford’s trainer, Brian “BoMac” McIntire, who made a few seemingly inappropriate comments about Latinos. “It is nothing personal. But I still support and defend my people.”
One can only assume that Crawford has his own personal brand of pride to defend as well. But Dulorme believes this will only add pressure to his opponent, not to him.
“I think he is fighting before his own crowd, and they may be thinking that he has to look good, or be thinking on how to give a good impression. I am not thinking about that. I am thinking about making weight, staying focused and winning the fight,” said Dulorme about the task at hand, without forgetting that the attention of the boxing world will be divided between his bout and the Matthysse-Provodnikov bout that will follow from a different location.
“We are four great fighters in two terrific fights this Saturday, and they are both on HBO. I believe every boxing fan should be watching those great fights.”