Coming off his first career loss after 17 successful bouts, Chordale Booker could’ve done what a lot of fighters do these days. He could’ve pointed fingers. He could’ve made excuses. He could’ve cleaned house internally and found a new team.
Instead, Booker looked in the mirror and decided any necessary changes to whatever routine, tradition, or game plan that didn’t work would start with him. So the Chordale Booker you see Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in his long-awaited return to the ring isn’t necessarily a “new-look” Booker. It’s the same Chordale Booker with the same team and a new chip on his shoulder.
“I’m not the type of fighter that when they lose, they throw out the whole ship. That ship got me to 17-0,” said Booker, who faces middleweight Angel Hernandez in an eight-round bout Saturday on the undercard of CES Boxing’s Winter Brawl.
“We’re going to sit down, reassess what happened, and get back to it. I talk to my team like men. We’re going to come back stronger and better, and that road begins this weekend.”
Tickets for Winter Brawl are available online at CESFights.com, MoheganSun.com, or at the Mohegan Sun box office. The event is headlined by heavyweight “The Sicilian Nightmare” Juiseppe Cusumano (21-4, 19 KOs) facing “The Hungarian Hammer” Istvan Bernath (10-1, 8 KOs) in the 10-round main event in addition to Worcester, MA, featherweight Irvin Gonzalez Jr. (15-3, 11 KOs) battling Dominican Dannis Aguero Arias (19-2, 16 KOs) in an eight-round bout for the vacant WBC Silver 126-pound title.
The setback Booker (17-1, 7 KOs) is referring to is his April 30 first-round knockout loss to Austin Williams at Madison Square Garden, a wild anomaly on an unblemished record that began more than six years ago when he turned pro in 2016.
As a late bloomer, the Stamford, CT, southpaw has never fallen into the trap of taking bad career advice from those in the industry who don’t have best interests in mind. He started boxing at the age of 19 and turned pro at 24. So while 31 may be considered past the prime years for most fighters, Booker “absolutely” feels he’s in his prime, hence why he’s in no need to rush the process, even coming off a loss in April.
“My prime will hit different,” said Booker, who is managed by Paul Guarino of PG Sports. “I don’t care what anyone says about my age. It’s probably why I don’t get the same opportunities some of the young guys get, but I don’t have to be on the same path as everyone else.
“This is my own race. I’m not trying to compete with anyone but myself.”
When looking back at the fight against Williams, Booker admits he wasn’t in the right head space, perhaps pulled in different directions by distractions outside the right – life’s obligations that fans often forget professional athletes still have to deal with despite their place in the limelight.
At the same time, Booker also admits his meteoric rise to the top of the 160-pound division gave him some false illusions, the idea that he could “cut corners” from time to time and still succeed. He learned otherwise in April, and it might be the lesson he needed to turn the corner.
“I took it personal. That’s exactly what I did,” Booker said. “I don’t like losing. I don’t train this hard and give up everything I’ve got just to lose and be mediocre. I’ve spent some time taking the sport for granted. I’ve got a lot of talent and because of that I don’t do everything I’m supposed to.
“Not anymore. Every lesson we learn in life is because we’ve gotten too comfortable. I’m ready to move on to something bigger.”
The journey back to the top begins Saturday. Booker has a chip on his shoulder, plenty to fight for, and many prime years left as he begins the next chapter. Fighting in front of his hometown fans will be the icing on the cake.
“I’ve never fought at Mohegan, so I’ve very excited,” he said. “Nothing brings the best out of me like fighting in front of my friends and family. They’re excited to come out for this one. I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am with the support I’ve been getting since we announced this fight. It’s been very motivating and I’m anxious to get back in that ring come Saturday.”
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