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PAWTUCKET â€” The regional and national tournaments are all a thing of the past. So is the points scoring system that heâ€™s had to worry about every time heâ€™s fought, as well as the headgear that heâ€™s had to strap on for 130 amateur fights, 119 of which he won.
The next time Toka Kahn-Clary steps in the ring, the Manfredoâ€™s 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 countryâ€™s premier boxing promotions company, announced the signing of the 20-year-old junior lightweight to a five-year contract on Wednesday.
â€śThis is huge,â€ť exclaimed Kahn-Claryâ€™s trainer, Peter Manfredo Sr. â€śItâ€™s the No. 1 promotional company in the world. Bob Arum is the No. 1 promoter in the world. You look at Top Rankâ€™s roster and thereâ€™s nothing but top-of-the-line boxers.â€ť
And the list of Top Rankâ€™s 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.
â€śI had my heart set on Top Rank because theyâ€™re No. 1 in the world,â€ť offered Kahn-Clary. â€śEverybody 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.
â€śIâ€™m excited to be part of Top Rank, but at the same time, I know Iâ€™m going to have to work hard to compete and be on the same level as their other guys. Itâ€™s excited, but itâ€™s a challenge too.â€ť
And the folks at Top Rank are more than happy to have Kahn-Clary. In a press release, Arum noted, â€śEveryone at Top Rank is excited to have Toka,â€ť while Bruce Trampler, Top Rank's Hall of Fame matchmaker, added, â€śToka is a top prospect who is the real deal. He throws a lot of punches and hits hard.â€ť
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.
â€śThis is a special kid,â€ť said Manfredo. â€śHe 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, heâ€™s won silver and bronze medals at the U.S. Championships, and heâ€™s won a ton of fights overseas. You just donâ€™t get that around here, and you can see why Top Rank wanted to sign him.â€ť
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.
â€śBut Top Rank gave Toka a lucrative contract with a signing bonus, and heâ€™s also getting a stipend,â€ť added Manfredo. â€śWhat he gets for a four-round fight, guys around here would probably get for an eight.â€ť
And Kahn-Clary wonâ€™t 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.
â€śItâ€™s the night before the Pacquiao card (vs. Timothy Bradley Jr. at the MGM Grand), so everybodyâ€™s going to be there,â€ť said Manfredo. â€śHeâ€™ll get noticed right away.â€ť
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.
â€śBefore I was fighting for trophies, but now Iâ€™m fighting for money, so Iâ€™ll have to work harder and be way more serious than I was,â€ť he added. â€śEvery 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, Iâ€™m going to be ranked in the pros just like I was ranked in the amateurs.â€ť