Boxing Insider Interview with Junior Younan: The Young God Adding to Brooklyn’s Long List of Prominence
By: Kirk Jackson
Undefeated super middleweight Junior ‘The Young God’ Younan 14-0-1 (10 KO’s) is one of the bright stars ushering in this new era of boxing. Overcoming obstacles and battling recent injuries, the Brooklyn-bred boxer aims to set plans in motion for the takeover in 2019.
Prior to fighting Derrick Findley 30-24-1 (20 KO’s) this weekend in Verona, New York on the undercard of a DAZN boxing event, Younan spoke with Boxing Insider and discussed plans for this year, expanded on his New York roots and living up to expectations.
“Well I’m in great shape right now so the plan is use my jab. He’s short he’s like 5’6” so use my jab, keep him outside, keep him honest, tag him up a little bit, keep him at range and box him but if that doesn’t work we’re ready to fight on the inside. We definitely want to expose that height and outbox him.”
This is a dangerous fight for Younan considering the variables not easily noticed at first glance. Yes Younan is the undefeated fighter, fighting in front of his hometown crowd, he’s young and has the upside and high trajectory. Younan has great boxing pedigree, good hand speed, coordination, size and is a good puncher.
One trait in Findley’s favor is his level of experience against great opposition. Finley definitely possesses is grit and that is something Younan is aware of.
“He’s been in the ring with a bunch of world champions. I’m not going in there looking for the knockout; personally I’m ready for a rough fight. He’s only been stopped by top dudes. Andre Ward went the distance with him, he went seven rounds with Andre Dirrell, he fought Edwin Rodriguez, [Jose] Uzcategui, [Vyacheslav] Shabranskyy and the list goes on.”
While knockouts aren’t guaranteed, a knockout is the special finish Younan will be searching for this weekend.
“I’m not going in there to look for it, but I think it will come personally. I’m more than ready, I been in camp for three months. Going into this fight I just think I’ve grown in the last year, year and a half I feel like I can think better under pressure and my ability to adjust has grown so I just want to show that.”
“Ya know it’s just a constant grind, the outsider looking in, I don’t think they understand how much goes into getting ready for a fight. It’s just an everyday grind, it’s rough. I’ve been in camp since December 5th, I was in camp with Marcus Browne – getting ready for Badou (Jack), it was just continuation when I got back home getting ready for the fight. “
“After the Ronald Ellis fight, they gave me a draw – I personally thought I won that fight, but battling yourself mentally after that. Just getting motivated after something like that happened, it’s a little bit of a battle but I feel like it made me better, work harder and it showed in my last performance and I’m pretty sure it’ll show in this next one.”
After overcoming a minor setback, Younan is focused on maintaining the proper course this year and winning every time he steps in the ring. Fighting on the DAZN card in front of his hometown fans is the first step for this year. In regards to representing New York the Brooklyn way, ‘The Young God’ relishes the opportunity to do so.
“It’s a good feeling, it’s a good feeling. My last fight was in Brooklyn, my first time fighting in Brooklyn in three years. It meant a lot to me so it brought out the best. There’s no added pressure, I like it. The list of champions (from Brooklyn) is crazy. I grew up around a lot top dudes including Danny Jacobs, Sadam Ali, Paulie Malignaggi, Curtis Stevens. I do feel like I gotta a reputation to uphold being from Brooklyn and I’m proud of it.”
“I grew up in the gym with all those guys, usually before every fight I get a call or two. Paulie trained with my dad for the Juan Diaz fight, we’re still very close. Me and him talk a lot, he definitely contributed to my growth, he had a lot of experiences and just little things he’s been through in the sport, not even all the time in the ring, just period. I definitely get a lot of insight from the older dudes and it’s great.”
In spite of his success as an amateur, Younan expressed professional boxing is much different but better suited for his style of fighting.
“I feel like amateur boxing doesn’t matter, professional fighting is a whole different world… you can’t throw million punches, you gotta be more careful. One punch can end ya night, people get knock-outs in the amateurs but those 10 oz. gloves are a little different. A lot of times I wouldn’t be able to fight how I wanna fight in the amateurs because you gotta worry about scoring a bunch of points. Now I can take my time, pick my shots and I think it comes out better.”
As Younan picks his punches and picks up additional experience climbing through the ranks, he has that great reputation of Brooklyn in the back of his mind.
Brooklyn is a borough represented by many champions; Mike Tyson, Shannon Briggs, Zab Judah, Daniel Jacobs, Paulie Malignaggi, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Junior Jones, Riddick Bowe, Sadam Ali and many more.
Maintaining relationships with some of these aforementioned fighters and sharing experiences has an obvious impact and viewers see it watching Younan in the ring. Over the past few years or so, the sport of boxing welcomed an influx of young talent into the professional ranks, some of which also gifted with transcendent ability to carry boxing from a commercial standpoint progressing forward.
“I just think I have a unique style, I feel like I bring a lot to the table, showmanship, personality and I hit hard. I have some pop, I’m flashy, I feel like I have the complete package to become something special in the sport. It’s all about goals at this point.”
“After this maybe three more fights, I want to stay busy, keep in the eye of the public at this point, three more fights this year after this one, I’ll be 18-0 and I’ll be knocking on some doors.”
His peers from the new generation are guys like Shakur Stevenson, Money Powell IV, Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, fellow Brooklynite Teofimo Lopez, Karlos Balderas, Ryan Garcia, Ruben Villa – the list goes on. Some of these guys already captured world title – Davis. Some may be in position to fight for a world title this year – Stevenson, Haney and Lopez.
Perhaps they all aim to replicate similar success like retired Olympic Gold Medalist and former five-time, two-division, world champion Andre Ward 32-0 (16 KO’s).
“I got to spend a little time with him (Andre Ward),” Younan said when discussing his experiences with Ward.
“Maybe not pick his brain, but I got to see how he moves during the week of the fight. He was the ultimate professional; I get to steal little things. Before the Ward-Kovalev II fight he told us and said this is a big moment for us and he looked straight at me and we was like you guys gotta shine just as well I do and on this big stage you gotta step ya game up.”
With nuggets of knowledge embedded in his mind, Younan has his sights on a world title soon and his journey towards that goal and much more continues this weekend. Catch ‘The Young God’ at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York this weekend or across the DAZN app.
You can also follow Junior Younan @tygofficial on Instagram.