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PAWTUCKET ‚ÄĒ The regional and national tournaments are all a thing of the past. So is the points scoring system that he‚Äôs had to worry about every time he‚Äôs fought, as well as the headgear that he‚Äôs had to strap on for 130 amateur fights, 119 of which he won.
The next time Toka Kahn-Clary steps in the ring, the Manfredo‚Äôs Gym fighter will do so as a professional. His name and his pro fights will be etched forever on boxrec.com, and yes, he will be fattening his wallet with some extra greens.
Top Rank Boxing, Inc, which has been long considered the country‚Äôs premier boxing promotions company, announced the signing of the 20-year-old junior lightweight to a five-year contract on Wednesday.
‚ÄúThis is huge,‚ÄĚ exclaimed Kahn-Clary‚Äôs trainer, Peter Manfredo Sr. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the No. 1 promotional company in the world. Bob Arum is the No. 1 promoter in the world. You look at Top Rank‚Äôs roster and there‚Äôs nothing but top-of-the-line boxers.‚ÄĚ
And the list of Top Rank‚Äôs top-of-the-line boxers is a long and distinguished one. Included among the 51 fighters in its stable are 12 current world champions, including the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world in WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao and three-time world champion Miguel Cotto.
‚ÄúI had my heart set on Top Rank because they‚Äôre No. 1 in the world,‚ÄĚ offered Kahn-Clary. ‚ÄúEverybody knows them because of Manny Pacquiao, and they have a lot of top-notch fighters. When they told me they wanted to sign me, I was excited. I talked to Peter and my manager (Mike Criscio) and I felt like it was a good place to be.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm excited to be part of Top Rank, but at the same time, I know I‚Äôm going to have to work hard to compete and be on the same level as their other guys. It‚Äôs excited, but it‚Äôs a challenge too.‚ÄĚ
And the folks at Top Rank are more than happy to have Kahn-Clary. In a press release, Arum noted, ‚ÄúEveryone at Top Rank is excited to have Toka,‚ÄĚ while Bruce Trampler, Top Rank's Hall of Fame matchmaker, added, ‚ÄúToka is a top prospect who is the real deal. He throws a lot of punches and hits hard.‚ÄĚ
Kahn-Clary, who is best known for his combination of speed, power, and pro style of boxing, is the fourth New England boxer to sign with Top Rank, joining former world middleweight champion Marvin Hagler and heavyweight Chris McDonald of Brockton, Mass. and featherweight Matt Remillard of Hartford, Conn.
But unlike those three boxers, who were signed midway through their careers, Kahn-Clary got to ink the dotted line with the prestigious Las Vegas company less than a month before making his pro debut.
‚ÄúThis is a special kid,‚ÄĚ said Manfredo. ‚ÄúHe won a gold medal at the National Golden Gloves, he was a bronze medalist at the U.S. Olympic Trials, he won the Pan-Am Games qualifiers, he‚Äôs won silver and bronze medals at the U.S. Championships, and he‚Äôs won a ton of fights overseas. You just don‚Äôt get that around here, and you can see why Top Rank wanted to sign him.‚ÄĚ
When Kahn-Clary made clear his intentions to turn pro, the suitors lined up to acquire his services, and Manfredo noted that Golden Boy Promotions in Los Angeles and DiBella Entertainment in New York were among the promoters to talk with Kahn-Clary, Criscio, and him.
‚ÄúBut Top Rank gave Toka a lucrative contract with a signing bonus, and he‚Äôs also getting a stipend,‚ÄĚ added Manfredo. ‚ÄúWhat he gets for a four-round fight, guys around here would probably get for an eight.‚ÄĚ
And Kahn-Clary won‚Äôt have to wait long to make his pro debut. He will fight a four-rounder against an opponent to be announced on Friday, June 8, on the undercard of the featured Kelly Pavlik-Scott Sigmon super middleweight fight at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the night before the Pacquiao card (vs. Timothy Bradley Jr. at the MGM Grand), so everybody‚Äôs going to be there,‚ÄĚ said Manfredo. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôll get noticed right away.‚ÄĚ
The fight will start the next chapter in his promising boxing career, and Kahn-Clary well knows that fighting for a paycheck is going to be a lot more difficult and require a lot of hard work and focus on his part.
‚ÄúBefore I was fighting for trophies, but now I‚Äôm fighting for money, so I‚Äôll have to work harder and be way more serious than I was,‚ÄĚ he added. ‚ÄúEvery fight is a world championship fight to me now. I have to go in there and perform, and I have to put in my work, but I know if I work to the best of my abilities, I‚Äôm going to be ranked in the pros just like I was ranked in the amateurs.‚ÄĚ