Dad-led box­ing pro­gram leads to ti­tle bout for son

Dal­las boxer, 31, has chance to ful­fill his dad’s dream

The Dallas Morning News - - FRONT PAGE - By BARRY HORN Staff Writer bhorn@dal­las­news.com

About the time the sto­ried box­ing club at the Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club was end­ing its run, Greg Hat­ley Sr. launched his own pro­gram de­signed es­pe­cially for his sons. On Sat­ur­day, Charles Hat­ley will fight for the WBC 154-pound world ti­tle.

About the time the sto­ried but on-the-ropes box­ing club at the nearby Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club was end­ing its run a quar­ter cen­tury ago, alum Greg Hat­ley Sr. launched his own pro­gram de­signed es­pe­cially for his sons, Greg Jr. and Charles.

Fa­ther had lit­tle choice, he be­lieved. He was in­tent on his boys be­com­ing fight­ers, and Tay­lor Au­gust, who had trained the fa­ther and hundreds of other am­a­teurs, was clos­ing up shop in Oak Cliff and mov­ing to a gym in East Dal­las.

“I played all kinds of sports but noth­ing did for me what box­ing did,” Greg Hat­ley Sr. said last week while proudly lead­ing a tour of his home­made gym. “Box­ing taught dis­ci­pline and re­spon­si­bil­ity like noth­ing else.”

At first Greg Sr., now a re­tired Dal­las fire­fighter who owns a con­struc­tion and roof­ing busi­ness, set up his box­ing gym in the fam­ily garage. About six years ago he re­al­ized his dream by con­vert­ing into a gym a once upon a time sta­ble on the fam­ily’s three acres in

“I played all kinds of sports but noth­ing did for me what box­ing did. Box­ing taught dis­ci­pline and re­spon­si­bil­ity like noth­ing else.” Greg Hat­ley Sr., who trains his son, Charles Hat­ley

the shadow of In­ter­state 45 just south of East Illi­nois Av­enue.

Greg Sr.’s dream had been for both sons to some­day com­pete for world cham­pi­onships un­der his tute­lage as their man­ager and trainer. But an in­jured shoul­der forced Greg Jr., a light heavy­weight who had forged a 12-1 record, to re­tire at age 30 in 2014.

That left Charles to carry the Hat­ley ban­ner in the fight game.

Charles is 31 now and fights at 154 pounds, 21 less than his big brother. He has sweated dili­gently away from the lime­light since climb­ing into the ring at 8 years old for the first of his 262 am­a­teur fights. In 2008, he made it all the way to al­ter­nate for the U.S. Olympic box­ing team.

Now, at long last, Charles Hat­ley, who has won 28 of 30 pro­fes­sional fights, has his shot at the spot­light.

Come Sat­ur­day night at Brook­lyn’s Bar­clays Cen­ter with his man­ager/trainer/fa­ther in his cor­ner, Charles will chal­lenge un­de­feated cham­pion Jer­mell Charlo of Houston for the WBC’s 154-pound world ti­tle.

Fa­ther and son have been dili­gently work­ing closely in pre­par­ing.

While Charles, his wife Shawna, their 11-year-old son Charles Jr. and daugh­ter, Jada, 8, live in Frisco, the fighter re­turned to stay at his par­ents’ Oak Cliff house while train­ing. It’s right next to the gym.

“Man, I miss go­ing home,” Charles Hat­ley said the other day, es­ti­mat­ing that it had been a month since he slept in his own bed. “But what I fi­nally have now is the chance of a life­time.”

In­ter­con­nected

If you don’t rec­og­nize the names Charles Hat­ley or Jer­mell Charlo you might be more fa­mil­iar with the three pre­vi­ous WBC 154-pound cham­pi­ons. Floyd May­weather Jr. owned that su­per wel­ter­weight ti­tle. So did Canelo Al­varez and Manny Pac­quiao.

Now that you’ve got that lin­eage straight, here comes a tan­gled web in the Charles Hat­ley story that takes us back to the Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club.

Charlo’s trainer is Derrick James, who once fought out of the Oak Cliff club where he and Greg Sr. were team­mates. Both trained un­der the watch­ful eye of Tay­lor Au­gust, a vol­un­teer coach who still leads the U.S. Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion’s of­fice for civil rights in Dal­las.

That is the same Tay­lor Au­gust, now 83, who has ad­vised Greg Hat­ley Sr. as he pre­pared his sons for their fights over the years.

Should Hat­ley de­feat the fa­vored Charlo, he would be­come only the third box­ing world cham­pion Dal­las has ever pro­duced.

Au­gust trained the sec­ond, Quincy Tay­lor, at the Boys & Girls Club. He guided Tay­lor to the WBC mid­dleweight (160 pounds) world cham­pi­onship. Tay­lor’s reign lasted only seven months in the mid-1990s. But he held the ti­tle none­the­less.

Over the years, Greg Sr. also sought sage ad­vice from Dal­las’ pre-em­i­nent boxer, Cur­tis Cokes. He reigned as the undis­puted wel­ter­weight (147 pounds) cham­pion of the world back in the late 1960s. That Cokes trained fight­ers at his own gym mat­tered lit­tle. When needed, Cokes has pro­vided ad­vice and guid­ance to the Hat­ley sons.

Here’s an­other sliver that might perk up lo­cal in­ter­est be­yond Dal­las’ ra­bid but rel­a­tively tiny box­ing com­mu­nity. Four weeks af­ter Hat­ley’s fight, his ac­quain­tance and some­time spar­ring mate Er­rol Spence Jr. of DeSoto, who is also trained by James, will meet Eng­land’s Kell Brook, for the IBF slice of the wel­ter­weight world ti­tle.

In re­cent weeks, Spence has been train­ing with and sparred with Charlo, help­ing him pre­pare for what­ever the Hat­leys throw at him.

Still, by May 27, should Charles Hat­ley and Spence both win, Dal­las could dou­ble the num­ber of world cham­pi­ons it has pro­duced.

“Dal­las could be back on the box­ing map,” Charles Hat­ley said.

Aussie sur­prise

Charles Hat­ley trav­eled to Aus­tralia for his last fight. On Nov. 11, 2015, he up­set Syd­ney’s An­thony Mun­dine for the WBC’s sil­ver 154-pound cham­pi­onship. It is a ti­tle that Charles Hat­ley is proud of, but it should not be mis­taken for a world ti­tle.

“Char­lie was brought in to be the op­po­nent in that fight,” Au­gust, the sage ad­vi­sor ex­plained. “But he sur­prised them.”

Trans­la­tion: Charles Hat­ley was im­ported to be fod­der for the fa­vored Mun­dine. In­stead, he knocked the 40year-old Mun­dine down four times be­fore the fight was stopped in the 11th round. That earned Hat­ley, knocked down once by Mun­dine, his shot at Charlo.

Once again, Hat­ley finds him­self the un­der­dog against Charlo.

Sev­eral months af­ter re­turn­ing from Aus­tralia, Charles Hat­ley, with his trainer and man­ager fa­ther at his side, signed a pro­mo­tional con­tract with Don King.

Tired of their in­de­pen­dent route that had pro­duced mostly club fights, they de­cided to try a more con­ven­tional path to big-time fights.

But the Hat­ley’s con­tend that King, the leg­endary pro­moter on the down­side of his own ca­reer, didn’t fol­low through on a com­mit­ment to get Charles fights in 2016. They filed a law­suit against King ear­lier this month. It has been 17 months since Hat­ley’s fight in Aus­tralia.

King told box­ingnew­son­line.net he felt sucker punched.

“Charles is the same fighter that couldn’t get a ti­tle shot from his pre­vi­ous pro­moter, and I turn around af­ter he comes to me to help him,” King told the web­site. “I de­liver him a ti­tle shot and he de­liv­ers me pa­pers.”

Not men­tioned by King was this de­tail: The Hat­leyCharlo matchup was man­dated by the WBC.

Stand and de­liver

There’s noth­ing pretty about Charles Hat­ley’s style in the ring. He doesn’t dance or feint. He’s phys­i­cally strong and is con­tent to make op­po­nents slug it out. He has been known to take a punch in or­der to land a more dev­as­tat­ing blow.

Hat­ley (26-1-1 with 18 knock­outs) has won nine con­sec­u­tive bouts — eight in Dal­las — since suf­fer­ing the only de­feat of his ca­reer at Dal­las’ Fair­mont Ho­tel. The fight had to be stopped in the first round af­ter an over­whelmed Hat­ley rein­jured a dam­aged an an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment he had torn while play­ing foot­ball in high school. Surgery fol­lowed the fight. At 26, Charlo (28-0 with 13 KOs) will eas­ily be the best op­po­nent Hat­ley has ever fought. He’s light on his feet, a tac­ti­cian who has been pol­ished by James into a metic­u­lous boxer. But he’s not a heavy puncher.

“This could be the skilled fighter vs. the brawler,” James said. “I be­lieve we have the younger, bet­ter, fresher fighter.”Greg Hat­ley Sr., who no longer ex­changes pleas­antries with his former Oak Cliff Boys’ & Girls club team­mate, coun­tered. “We have the stronger fighter who won’t be de­nied,” he said.

Charles Hat­ley said he will box Charlo when nec­es­sary or he will sim­ply bang away.

“De­pends on the fight,” he said. “I will adapt to my op­po­nent. This is go­ing to be some­thing else.”

A world cham­pion for a Dal­las, its first since 1996, may just the “some­thing else” Charles Hat­ley has in mind.

Tom Fox/Staff Pho­tog­ra­pher

With the movie Rocky play­ing on the flat screen tele­vi­sion, Charles Hat­ley (left) pre­pared for Sat­ur­day’s WBC wel­ter­weight ti­tle fight with his coach and fa­ther, Greg Hat­ley, at the fam­ily’s gym in a former sta­ble in South­east Oak Cliff.

Tom Fox/Staff Pho­tog­ra­pher

Charles Hat­ley won the WBC Sil­ver Cham­pion belt in the 154-pound class when he up­set An­thony Mun­dine in Aus­tralia in Novem­ber 2015.

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