Chicago middleweight Donovan "Da Bomb" George says there will be more than a win or a loss on the line when he steps in the ring against former world title challenger David "The Destroyer" Lopez this Friday, March 22.
According to George, he must win or his boxing career has been a waste.
George (24-3-1, 21 KOs) will drop down to middleweight to face Lopez (41-13, 23 KOs) of Nogales, Mexico, in the 10-round middleweight main event, at Chicago's UIC Pavilion and televised live on ESPN Friday Night Fights.
Presented by 8 Count Productions, Round 3 Productions and Warriors Boxing the night's co-main event will pit former world champion Kermit "EL Asesino" Cintron (33-5-1, 28 KOs) dropping back down to welterweight to face Chicago slugger Adrian "EL Tigre" Granados (11-2-1, 7 KOs).
"If I never win a title or get close, my whole career is a bust," explained George. "I've done some local things and some national things but I'm not going to brag to my kids about being a former USBA Champ. I want to be world champion. I want to leave a legacy in this sport."
With every fibre of his being, George says he wants to wear a championship belt, so he's taken the unusual step of dropping down in weight midway through his career.
"If I look back at my career if don't want to wish I had done things differently. I'm going to do everything I possibly can, so I can look at myself in the mirror. Right now, I'm not content with what I've done. I feel like the last six years, I've been in the wrong weight class. I step up and lose. I don't know if it's because I'm too small, but we're going to find out. Normally as a fighter is getting older they go up in weight, but I'm making the suicidal move to go down. If I want to be world champ I have to make sacrifices."
In addition to his drop in weight, George travelled to Detroit to train at the Kronk Gym with Sugar Hill and spar with such notables as former opponent Adonis Stevenson and former heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev.
"I worked on a lot of the technical side with Sugar. He put in a lot of time and effort with me and I really appreciate it. If I can catch anybody I'll hurt them, but first I have to hit them. That meant re-learning Boxing 101 and going back to the basics with Sugar. My dad has been my trainer my whole career and he learned to train by reading books. He's brilliant to have been so successful with no tutelage at all, but Sugar has been able to show me some new things, technically. I'm going to try and show all the improvements I've made on Friday. I'm going to obviously fight smart and pick my shots and land my right hand, my best punch. I'm working on not telegraphing it. I hope I can set it up and land it. If I do, it will be an early night."
George also says it's "so far so good" with his experiment at middleweight.
"I have sparred some middleweights, and found that I did extremely well. I'm way too strong. I had a couple knockouts in the gym. I'm really excited to see how I do at 160 lbs."
Lopez will be George's third southpaw in the past three fights, a fact he isn't thrilled with, but says after 29 pro fights, he has to take any and all comers from every side.
"I've got some tapes on him. I know he's only lost once in nine years. There's reason for that. He can fight. He's a tough, tall southpaw from Mexico and he'll bring it. He's at his best at 154. Coming up nine pounds to fight me will make a big difference. I'll be a lot stronger than him. I'll be about 185 lbs. by fight night. I really respect the guy. Anyone with almost 60 pro fights, you have to. And when I look at his career, he didn't get his first title shot until 34 years old. I can relate. I've been a pro almost nine years and haven't come close. He doesn't give up either. I respect that."
Every fight is now make or break for Donovan George. Sacrificing and suffering to get down to a smaller weight class with one dream in mind. He is a man on a mission.
"What I'm doing is very difficult, but I'm so passionate it about it. You invest your whole life into something. Some people have a career, but boxing for me is not a career; it's my whole life. I have no backup plan. I don't have this or that to fall back on. I want to make it. If I don't, it'll be hard to live with. I don't care if I'm rich or famous. I just want a world title. That's all I want. I'll fight for free. I just want a title. I must win this fight. It's really 'do or die.' If I lose to a 35-year-old guy, where am I going? I must win this fight.
Donovan George sends his thanks and well wishes to Mike "Hollywood" Hernandez and his Uncle, Mike Apa.