He Just Made The Semi-Finals Of Oscar DelaHoya’s “The Contender” and He Could Be Boxings Next Diamond In The Rough!
13.06.04 – Interview by Carlos Kalinchuk: Jr. Welterweight Raymond Charles is currently 9-0 with 5 KO’s. Most boxing aficionados would point out that there are a lot of fighters with 9-0 records and they would invariably ask, “Why are you interviewing this kid?” The reason is simple. The kids’ got skills and he may yet again be another fighter in the next 2 years that will make the Jr. Welterweight more interesting (as if it were not already interesting enough). He’s aggressive in the ring, he’s twenty-four years old, and if you saw the punches he took to the chops (and handled out as well) in his last fight against the extremely tough Carlos DeLeon, you’d also know he’s also got a strong chin to boot. Oh by the way, he came back and won that fight albeit closely. Not impressed yet? That’s reasonable. But he also had an amateur record of approximately 85-10. Still not impressed? Charles also stopped the very Hot Demitrius Hopkins in three rounds when they fought as amateurs. Still skeptical?
He has sparred and continues to spar with some of boxings best like Diego Corrales, Juan Diaz, and “Jesse” James Leija. Oh, and did I mention he was a semi-finalist for Oscar DelaHoya’s upcoming reality show “The Contender?”
Does this all mean he’s boxing next Superstar? Not quite, because those things are not decided on paper or on speculation or by some producer who’s concerned about how his personality will fair for advertising dollars if he is selected as a finalist on the TV show The Contender. No, it WILL ALL be about what he accomplishes in the ring. I repeat, his abilities and how good or great he becomes will all be measured only by what he does in the ring.
But Raymond Charles has potential and that’s something that can’t be ignored and won’t be if he has anything to say about it. I caught up with Raymond and we spoke at length about a variety of topics from his nearly 5 year boxing hiatus to his promise to his grandmother. Not only is he good in the ring, but also very cordial out of it. This is my full interview with one of boxing up and coming prospects.
Eastsideboxing: Raymond, tell us a little bit about what you learned about your last fight. Looking back, what did you learn?
Raymond Charles: Well, I know I can go eight rounds (laughs)! I’ll have more confidence and I’ll come out blazing like I usually do for a six round fights the next time. I just needed the experience of the eight round fight. It’s all mental. Most of the sport is mental. Just going to eight rounds is a big thing in and of itself so that’s what I learned right off.
Eastsideboxing: Do you feel the mentality of going into that fight was wrong for you, considering you normally start off so aggressive?
Raymond Charles: Oh yeah! In this sport it’s about who wants it more. That’s basically it and you see that in the fights. My next fight you’re going to definitely see me coming out blazing because if it’s not, they’ll catch you off guard for coming out that way. It’s the way the sport is. You have to be rough and mean.
Eastsideboxing: For those boxing fans who don’t know you outside of Houston, can you share with them who you’ve sparred with so they can know a little bit more what type of talent you possess?
Raymond Charles: I’ve sparred with Diego Corrales, Juan Diaz (I’ve sparred with him quite a bit); I’ve also sparred with James Leija. We’ve sparred a lot and he was going to use me for the Bojado fight. We have a similar style so we were trying to do it for the Bojado fight but my schedule and his schedule kind of conflicted so that’s the reason that didn’t go through.
Eastsideboxing: How do you interpret the fact that both rising and former champions and hot prospects in the sport have used you to spar with?
Raymond Charles: I interpret it as a form of where I stand in the boxing world. The night I fought my first eight rounder (my last fight) it was a bad night for me but God blessed me with a win; but thank God. But as far as sparring with those guys, it gives me more confidence because sparring with those guys…not to say the fighter I’m fighting is nothing because I respect any guy that gets in that ring, but it just makes me more confident.
Eastsideboxing: How much encouragement is it for you to know that some of boxings current/former champions have learned their crafts from sparring sessions with other great fighters as well?
Raymond Charles: It’s a whole lot of encouragement because the guys will let me know that “hey” your doing this wrong and my trainers see how hard I’m working in the gym. I guess it goes back to confidence, and confidence is a big factor in this sport.
Eastsideboxing: What was the last thing that you learned from a sparring session?
Raymond Charles: Hmmm, well I know that last thing I learned especially from this last fight, is that you’ll never see me with my hands down! I was trying to work on a different type of defense with my hands down but you will never see me with that type of defense. That’s not the way I fight.
Eastsideboxing: Like Floyd Mayweather huh?
Raymond Charles: Yeah, like a Floyd Mayweather or Roy Jones. You’ll never see me do that again.
Eastsideboxing: Can you share with me how you envision the next year and a half playing out for you?
Raymond Charles: It’s kind of hard to see that far out considering this is such a hard tough rugged sport…
Eastsideboxing: Well in a perfect world then…
Raymond Charles: In a perfect world, fighting about 4-5 more fights by the end of the year and then by next year setting myself up to be in the top ten.
Eastsideboxing: When did you start boxing?
Raymond Charles: When I was 11 years old. I had a great amateur career.
Eastsideboxing: What was you record as an amateur?
Raymond Charles: My amateur record was about 85-10. I had a good amateur background. I fought on the USA Team. I fought in Germany and I fought against Finland in San Diego. I went to Russia in a World Ranking Tournament and so I fought there as well. Those kind of gave me international experience, which is a big factor in the sport because when you go and fight internationally (as a pro) it kind of bothers a lot of fighters who haven’t done so.
Eastsideboxing: That and you have the opportunity to see so many styles right?
Raymond Charles: That’s the key factor. A lot of people ask me if I’ve seen certain tapes of fighters and I have to say, I really don’t watch tapes because I fought in the Amateurs and I’ve seen so many styles and you adjust to each style. I just go into the first round and feel them out to see what happens and what I’ll do from there.
Eastsideboxing: Since many fighters that are in the upper echelon of boxing do that as they progress (watch videos) their careers do you see yourself gravitating to that as your career develops?
Raymond Charles: Well there’s a lot of tough guys coming out right now, like Dimetrius Hopkins. I stopped him in the third round.
Eastsideboxing: As an amateur right?
Raymond Charles: Yeah as an amateur. I see those guys coming up and it gives me a lot of desire to come back. You see I was out of boxing for a bit because my mother got real sick. I had been doing really good l and I had fought on ESPN 2 on my last fight before the lay off but my mom had gotten really sick so I was out of boxing for a bit. She got really sick and I just dropped everything and left. Her along with my manager really just encouraged me and then I just decided to come back.
Eastsideboxing: If it’s not too personal, what may I ask did she have?
Raymond Charles: She contracted Hepatitis in the hospital. She worked in the Hospital and there was an accident and she caught the worst form of it. She started to get really bad and really sick and she started to look pale and her hair was starting to fall out but now they are looking at a surgery that will get rid of it. My niece and nephew and my little girl keep her going though. She’s the type of woman that doesn’t complain if she’s in pain or hurting so I have to keep in touch with the people that are really close to her because she’s got a lot of character and she’s not one to complain. That’s the type of lady my mother is. She’s supposed come visit me before she goes into surgery soon though so I’ll get to see her soon. She’s supposed to be here on the 17th and I’ll be training but I’ll get to spend some time with her. Her and my brother may decide to move up here after the surgery from what I understand so I’m really looking forward to that if it happens.
Eastsideboxing: When did that happen? And when did you come back?
Raymond Charles: That happened (her sickness) in 99 and I just came back this January.
Eastsideboxing: That long????
Raymond Charles: Yeah.
Eastsideboxing: That’s a big break!
Raymond Charles: Yeah. That’s a big break and I came back at the arena theatre in January and then I had this last fight but there was a lot of rescheduling issues because OSF was canceling a lot of shows and they would be on then off so that kind of made it a factor in my last fight.
Eastsideboxing: Considering you’re doing what a lot of boxers do…you’re a working man (and there are a lot of fighters who do that as well as they work their way up the rankings), how difficult do you find it committing to the sport knowing what you have to give back to it to be successful?
Raymond Charles: It’s real difficult. I have time away from my little girl and a wife at home and it’s difficult because I have no time for myself. This sport is so demanding and it demands a whole lot and you’re not going to get anything unless you put something into it. I’m glad I have my wife though because she’s very supportive of me but if she wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do anything at all. You know how that is. I would say it’s really hard. It’s a really hard sport and if you can’t do it 100% then you really ought to leave it alone.
Eastsideboxing: When’s your next fight?
Raymond Charles: In August and my little girls birthday is in July so I told everybody “Hands off of me in July (smiles)!” I told everybody to leave me alone for July but I’m looking for early August.
Eastsideboxing: What’s your biggest asset and weapon in the ring?
Raymond Charles: I would say my biggest weapon is my heart. I have one of the biggest hearts in the sport today. I refuse to lose and that’s what I would say is my biggest weapon.
Eastsideboxing: In your last fight your chin was tested by a very tough fighter in Carlos DeLeon, however, you stayed on your feet and in my opinion passed the test. I thought the first and the last rounds were the toughest for you. Knowing the division you’re in, and how tough it is, how does that help you when you begin fighting those cats?
Raymond Charles: Once I get to that level, I’ll be ready. It’s like when I was an amateur. When I was 16 and in the open division I never thought I’d be ready for those guys. And I was in there with those guys but it’s just a process. When you’re at that level and when you get to that level, you’ll be in better shape and hitting harder and everything is going to come altogether.
Eastsideboxing: Do you feel that you have to remind yourself that since you were out for so long that you can turn that negative into a positive?
Raymond Charles: Oh yeah. I’m only 24 years old so I’ve got a whole lot in me. I’m definitely on for the long haul and my grandmother died from the same disease in 97 and I promised her I’d never quit the sport until I got what I needed to get out of it. If boxing doesn’t work out I can always go back to school but with everything I have going on right now, I can’t but there’s always a backup plan.
Eastsideboxing: For all the people who don’t know you personally, what do you like to do outside the ring?
Raymond Charles: I like to spend time with my family. When I see my little girl when I come home she just lights me up so when I’m not boxing I like to spend time with my family. If I’m able to go home in west Texas, which is 9 hours away, I like to visit my mom and brothers. That’s a big thing.
Eastsideboxing: Are you from El Paso?
Raymond Charles: No I’m from Lubbock Texas. I really like to go out there and visit those guys but you know how hard it is to do that often so I get to see them all like twice a year. That’s another big thing. You have to make sacrifices to succeed in this sport.
Eastsideboxing: What brought you to Houston?
Raymond Charles: Houston Boxing brought me to Houston and I boxed in Houston when my parents moved to Lubbock but I stayed behind to continue boxing. But I relocated when my mom got sick but when I came back after the lay off I came back here so now I’ve been hitting it full blast ever since. I came here weighing 170 and I dropped to 140 because I was training really hard. I know what the sport demands and I know what I have to do, now it’s about getting out there and doing it.
Eastsideboxing: Any regrets on the decision and promise to your grandmother?
Raymond Charles: No regrets. I promised her that I would do a lot. God’s blessed me with a gift and I have to share that gift. I deserve it and the fans deserve it and I should go out there and do that.
Eastsideboxing: When are boxing fans going to see you on a national stage so people will get to know you more?
Raymond Charles: I’ve been trying to get outside of Houston but my manager wants me to stay here since Houston is such a huge fight town. Fights are happening here and he feels that I should fight here in my home base but I’m more anxious to get my name known and get out there and travel and fight those guys out there but I’m leaving it all to my manager and my team, but I’m really anxious to get out there and show my skills and make it happen.
Eastsideboxing: Since you’re not really from Houston, how have the fans accepted you? Do they feel you’re one of us when you fight here?
Raymond Charles: When I stepped out for this last fight the guy was from Monterrey Mexico and so NOT AT ALL (Laughs). That was a big factor. That was kind of big because the guy was from Monterrey Mexico and I’m not really known here in Houston as a Houston fighter. I think once people know more and more about me and who I am, I think they will accept me more. I love Houston. It’s a great fight town and I plan on making a lot of good fights here.
Eastsideboxing: Who in the top ten would you like to fight when you do get that point in your perfect world?
Raymond Charles: That’s kind of hard to say because there’s a lot of guys that I respect and that I have in the back of my mind and that I can do well against but I don’t want to throw any names out there but there’s a lot of people that I think I could go with.
Eastsideboxing: Who do you admire in the division?
Raymond Charles: I know this is crazy to say but I’m actually a fan of the 140 division (smiles)! I’m a fan nearly all those guys, Gatti; Dorin. I mean I enjoy watching Juan Diaz fight. I enjoy watching Cotto fight. I fought on a card with him but it’s kind of crazy because I’m a big fan of all of them (smiles)!
Eastsideboxing: That’s kind of weird to hear?
Raymond Charles: Yeah I know (smiles) but I’m a big fan of the 140-weight class (Laughs).
Eastsideboxing: What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you in or out of the ring since you got into boxing?
Raymond Charles: I’m sure there are lots of things (thinking).
Eastsideboxing: Don’t worry man, everybody freezes up when I ask that question.
Raymond Charles: (Laughs) I don’t know. Hmmmm (thinking again). Okay, once I had this guy in training tap me on the butt and he was trying to be a Roy Jones and he was gyrating and shaking his butt and I was sparring with him and he kind of grabbed my butt with his glove (Laughs). That kind of threw me off a little bit and I said, “Hey man, we’re not here to play!” It really shocked me (Laughs).” I don’t know I guess it was something you’d expect from a guy like (Chop, Chop) Corley. I don’t want to spar with any guys like that (Laughs).
Eastsideboxing: (Laughs) Yeah that whole Victoria Secrets thing is a little freaky if you ask me. I don’t care how hard you hit, that’s squirrelly.
Raymond Charles: Yeah, you got to keep that “out the” ring (Laughs).
Eastsideboxing: Any closing comments? When are you going to go 10 rounds?
Raymond Charles: We’re looking at that for my next two fights. I just want to say to everybody I had a bad outing my last fight-which was good. A lot of people thought I did really good, but I thought it was not to my potential. I just want to tell the people that once I get out there, Raymond Charles is here to stay. I’m going to give everybody a hard fight and I’m going to move up in the ranks.
Eastsideboxing: Opps almost forgot, I heard you are a semi-finalist for the Upcoming show “The Contender.” Can you tell us a little bit about how that worked out?
Raymond Charles: I wasn’t planning on going up to Dallas but my manager talked me into taking a couple of days out of my training so I could go to Dallas and try out. It turned out to be a good move because now I’m a semi-finalist. I sparred with a guy up in Dallas who was an undefeated pro and they were impressed with the way I moved and things so I got an interview. A lot of people got interviewed but not too many people got the paper work to be selected. They didn’t base it entirely on your skills but also you’re personality and they picked me. I just got the paper work 3 days ago! If they pick my weight class then I’m flying out to Los Angeles to do that and from that batch of 60 people they pick 16 to live in a house for two months and eventually fight each other.
Eastsideboxing: How are you thinking about being two months away from your family?
Raymond Charles: That’s going to be real rough.
Eastsideboxing: Well I’m all out of question bro, but I did want to add that I hope everything will be fine with your mother and that situation, and I wish you good luck on The Contender and a lot of success with your future in the sport-good luck.
Raymond Charles: Thank you man. Good luck with your reporting and I’ve read your stuff for quite some time and you always do a great job so thanks a lot and thank you for interviewing me.
Eastsideboxing: You’re welcome.
Carlos “Stiff-jab” Kalinchuk
Contributing Writer & Photographer