If you haven’t heard of SlyAza, the chances are you might have soon. The unbeaten middleweight is scheduled to face off against Demetrius Andrade on the 21st of October and I managed to squeeze our conversation in as he brings his camp to a close.
A veteran amateur with over 150 wins, Fox has racked up 23 victories as a professional. He seems at ease with his status as a relative unknown, explaining during our conversation how other people have been viewing the task ahead of him.
“I feel like I’m facing down a giant or some sort of mythological creature of some kind. Everyone believes that I have no chance as if I am against insurmountable odds and I love it. Gives me chills and a rush every time I think about it. I’m not mad or upset about being the underdog at all.”
Fox has been allowed to slip under the mainstream’s radar until now. His larger than life personality, somewhat a mystery. Standing at 6’5, he is a beanstalk of a middleweight contender. The Sweet Science was not always the natural choice, growing up in Maryland he tried his hand at a more appropriate ‘tall mans’ sport.
“I played basketball, football and I boxed. Notice how I didn’t say ‘played’ boxing. It’s not a game. I was a good student up until about 9th grade. I knew when I was about 11 or 12 that I’d be boxing or at least that’s what I dreamed.”
Following his dream led to some difficult decision making, primarily around his education. Alantez had a keen awareness of his physicality and also of the time-constraints felt by a top-level athlete. In combat sports, especially, the wear and tear of a camp can break the body down. It was refreshing to hear that he made this decision at such a young age.
“I spent most of school feeling like it’s taking away from what I really wanted to do. So I didn’t go to college after high school. I knew I had a gift and I’d rather pursue my dream and come back to school afterward. This isn’t something you can leave and come back to but, school can be.”
I first paid attention to SlyAza Fox when seeing him engage with Luis Arias over Social Media. Arias was chasing a showdown with Andy Lee, Fox interjected, offering Arias the fight in order to determine who was really worthy of the step up. A month or so on; Fox v Andrade and Arias v Danny Jacobs are slated.
With an increasing number of fights provisionally made over the internet, I asked Alantez his honest opinion on Social Media and its involvement in the sport.
“I guess it’s kind of a major factor in those aspects of my career but they only show a small percentage of what I do in order to be the boxer I am. It’s important to put your face out there and some of your work so that people can help you build up to some of the bigger fights. Social Media is definitely helping advertise this fight and makes people question who I am and if this fight is even worth the watch.”
With question marks over Andrade’s step up to middleweight, Fox’s calibre and the fight in isolation it was fascinating to chat to the underdog. He struck me as a family man, someone extremely keen to recognise those helping him on his journey.
“My team in the ring are; Mykal Fox, my brother/second coach and fellow fighter. My father who is the head coach and my cutman Reggie Brown… So many miscellaneous names to give as far as training partners but I don’t want to leave anyone out…”
The way he was able to rhyme off a list of the key players in his career told me everything I had to know about Alantez Fox. He values, remembers and credits every single one. Learning from each other and celebrating successes as a team, the support network behind SlyAza was as follows;
“My S&C coach is D’Angelo Kinard of Advanced Sports Performance. My gym partners including Myke Fox, Gregory Outlaw, Luther Smith, Ronald Stallings formerly of the UFC, Sijara Eubanks of the UFC show, Shevon Lewis because I know she wants to be included Lamont Roach Jr, Kevin Rivers Jr, Kareem Martin, Alex Rincon, D’Mitrius Ballard, Mike Reed. I was always taught if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!”
I was sure he had to take a breath…
“My mother! I don’t want to forget my mother!”
Fox was as confident as you’d expect from an American World-ranked fighter. He was clear and concise when discussing his plans for the fight. It was true, Andrade had never faced someone like him. Physical attributes that most middleweights cannot replicate, he is convinced he has Andrade’s number.
“I see that he swings widely and his defense is little to none while he’s doing it. I’m going to out-maneuver and out-land him. Anything passed that on my part is great but like I said, I’m here to box my ass off. I’m extremely confident in my abilities. That is to say… I know I can be beat him.”
Taking the potential victory in our stride, we closed our conversation by looking at the future. The platform for Fox was enormous. A high profile fight with a multiple-time World champion, but what would beating Andrade mean for him a year down the line?
“Twelve months down the line, I’m thinking middleweight title shot and victory. There’s no need to set the bar low but I believe I can do it either way. Just like I’m not here to lose this one I don’t plan on losing any time soon either. You’re going to have to beat me to beat me. As long as I keep winning I’ll be there and every victory is a humbling experience.”
At aged 25, the future is bright for Alantez Fox. Regardless of the fights outcome, he has developed a voice for the wider boxing public. Fans and casual fans will see him in press conferences, videos and obviously in battle. He is fixated on his crowning victory. As with everything else, time will tell. But if it’s not broke…
Written by Craig Scott