MIAMI (Oct. 13, 2014) – Modern day road warrior Marcus “Arillius” Upshaw (17-13-2, 8 KOs) plans to jumpstart his career October 23 against fellow gatekeeper and upset specialist, Aaron Pryor Jr. (19-7, 12 KOs), in the 10-round main event on a private (no tickets sold or media coverage) Alarm Charity Boxing fundraiser event at Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C.
“I’ve fought everybody,” Upshaw said from training camp. “It seems like I’ve fought forever as a super middleweight but I’m a middleweight and this fight is going to help me get a fight against a top middleweight. My mind is right for this fight and I know what I need to do. I’m not going to leave fights in the hands of the judges anymore.
“I went the distance with some big dogs (David Lemieux, Marcos Antonio Rubio,Gilberto Ramirez Sanchez, Lamar Russ, Patrick Majewski, Tarvis Simms andEdwin Rodriguez). I didn’t get knocked out or quit in those fights and my mind is set now. You’re only as good as your camp and I’m having a great one, sparring withJermain Taylor and some other good fighters for this fight.”
In 2008, Upshaw impressively derailed the rise to the top of the then 19-1 James McGirt with a controversial 10-round majority draw, in which, most fans felt Upshaw should have won. Two fights later, he upset 10-0 prospect Ashandi Gibbs (10-0) by way of a fourth-round technical knockout for the Florida State middleweight championship. Upshaw traveled to Quebec City in 2010 and registered his most significant victory to date, a stunning 10-round decision over 21-1-1 local hero Renan St. Juste in his opponent’s backyard, pushing Upshaw up in the world ratings (IBF #6, WBO #9, WBC #11).
“Announcers always say it’s really all about which Marcus Upshaw would be fighting,” Upshaw added. “It’s really all about my mind set. I went back to Ground Zero and I’m just going to be me from now on. I’m positive and have built myself back up from scratch. I want to get back to where I was at my peak, against St. Juste, and then get a rematch with Lemieux or Rubio, but not in Mexico again.”
Like Upshaw, Pryor has been in against the iron during his career, primarily fought in the shadows of his Hall-of-Fame father, Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor. The 36-year-old Pryor Jr., who went the distance in losing efforts against Rodriguez, Dyah Davis, Will Rosinsky and Thomas Oosthuizen, defeated three-time world title challengerLibrado Andrade (DEC10) in 2011, and the only fighter to stop him is World Boxing Council (WBC) light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.
“I’m not going into my opponent’s backyard for this fight,” Upshaw concluded. “Pryor is from Cincinnati. I don’t plan to leave this fight in the hands of the judges. He won’t be able to handle me. I’ve fought a lot tougher guys than him. If I don’t stop him it’s going to be a long ass-whipping I give him.”
Upshaw, like Pryor, also has rich athletic bloodlines. His uncle, the late Gene Upshaw, was an NFL Hall of Fame offensive guard for the Oakland Raiders.
“Marcus is a big, tough, strong middleweight who hasn’t always used his size advantage,” Upshaw’s longtime manager Si Stern remarked. “This is a very big fight for him. His problem has been not finishing off guys. He has a whole new attitude. Marcus was misused earlier in his career fighting guys much bigger than him. He’s really a 160-pound fighter and that’s weight class Marcus should be fighting at as he is in this fight. I’m confident that Marcus will put on a good show and, if he wins, his career will be a lot brighter.”
Damian Frias preparing for Ring return
Another one of Stern’s fighters, always dangerous welterweight Damian “Devo” Frias (19-8-1, 10 KOs), is ready to return to the ring before 2014 concludes. The Cuban southpaw, fighting out of Miami, has been hampered by hand injuries during the past few years.
Frias hasn’t been stopped in 28 fights, including losses to present International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior middleweight champion Carlos Molina (19-5-2),Mikael Zewski (19-0), Ionut Dan Ion (30-2), Vitaliy Demyanenko (21-0) andFreddy Hernandez (25-1). The highlight of the 38-year-old Frias’ career remains a ninth-round TKO of Henry Crawford.
“I injured my left hand in sparring for my last fight against Zewski,” Frias explained. “It was the biggest fight of my career, fighting for the first time on an HBO undercard, so I didn’t say anything and kept icing it. I felt I could stop him but I lost a decision and aggravated my hand injury. It hurt badly after that fight (June 15, 2013). I could have had surgery but we decided to rest it and have cortisone treatment. I hope to be back fighting in November, at least by the end of this year. My hand has held up in sparring and we’ll have to wait and see if it holds up in a real fight.
“I’ve had injuries with my hands. They’re real small for a guy my size and chronically swollen. I already had surgery on my right hand. It’s been real difficult and aggravating. My hands are wrapped good and I’ve blocked out the pain during fights once the blood gets flowing, but I was just throwing punches at a target instead of punching through ’em. I fought with damaged hands against Zewski, Ion, and Demyanenko but I’m optimistic now. I’m going for broke. This is my last run; I’m not a young buck anymore.”
Stern added, “Of all the fighters I’ve been around, nobody is tougher than Damian, who’s never been afraid of fighting anybody. In most of the fights he’s lost, Damian was strong in the early rounds, until his hand swelled and he couldn’t use his left hand. His hand is stronger now after rest, medication and rehab. We’re all hoping his hands hold up in a fight.”