Mikkel LesPierre fights out of the famed and fabled Gleason’s Gym in DUMBO, Brooklyn, which has been home to a gaggle of champions over their decades as a fight factory. Right now, though, estrogen is dominant within the confines, as female fighters have been doing their thing to a superlative level, more so than the guys.
Banners for all the titlists dot the gym, which is almost as much a museum as training ground; posters and pics tell tales all around the location, and owner Bruce Silverglade can tell you about every single image, and the stories behind it.
The newest banner in the joint lauds Heather Hardy, who earned a WBO featherweight crown by beating Shelly Vincent last October. And the last banner advertising the magnificent exploits of a male Gleason’s boxer?
Got to go back to 2009, when they hung up a pronouncement touting Yuri Foreman’s junior middleweight strap grab, taking the WBA belt from Daniel Santos.
On Saturday, Mikkel LesPierre can get one back for the dudes.
OK, there really isn’t that dynamic existing in the gym — everyone there is grinding, hustling, working to make the ends meet in this city where cost of living forces one to rise up or get out.
LesPierre is 34. He just celebrated a birthday on Tuesday and no, he wasn’t gobbling cake to celebrate the milestone. He has a fight to look to on Saturday in Verona, New York, at Turning Stone Casino, against 140-pound ace Maurice Hooker, streaming live on DAZN.
Hooker owns the WBO title, which was vacant when he rumbled with Terry Flanagan for the rights to the bauble. Hooker, now 23-0, defended against Alex Saucedo in November, and now seeks to elongate his reign against the 21-0-1 LesPierre, who was born in Trinidad.
I chatted with LesPierre’s trainer, Don Saxby on Wednesday afternoon, to gauge what’s what in regards to Hooker vs LesPierre.
“Mikkel has all the tools to beat Hooker. He has the speed, the agility, the IQ, and he has the will,” Saxby told me. “We’re banking on that and you are going to see the best Mikkel LesPierre that you ever seen come fight night. He’s simply ready.”
The tutor said Les has stayed in shape, but wait, he’s 34. Is that not a lil’ old?
“It’s a good thing for him, because he can be overlooked because he’s 34. It can be a bad thing for Hooker, because he might be overlooking him because he’s 34. But LesPierre lives an extremely clean life. You can look at him being 34, but you can look at him being a 24-year-old 34. He’s lived a clean life, so we don’t even worry about it.”
And yeah, Saxby knows LesPierre hasn’t been in as tough as Hooker.
“Of course, but he hasn’t been in with Mikkel yet,” he noted.
At the Wednesday presser, Saxby heard Hooker say he’s looking for the KO. Saxby saw his kid smile — and he liked that reaction.
”We’re not thinking about the belt, it’s just tunnel vision. The primary goal is just to beat Hooker! Prediction? We win, he becomes champion, that’s my prediction. I won’t predict knockout or predict how we win, but we will win.”