Mancuso: Bronx Champion Del Valle Helped Groom Badou Jack to World Title

Lou Del Valle knows something about what it takes to be a world champion. The former New York City Golden Gloves title holder propelled himself and became a WBA light heavyweight champion. He would lose to Virgil Hill the USA Olympian before the hometown fans in Grand Forks North Dakota.

Then, Del Valle, a tough kid from the Morris Park section of the Bronx was still learning the ins and outs of the fight game. He would also take on Roy Jones Jr. at Madison Square Garden in July of 1998 and lose a bid for another title, but he took care of business and knocked Jones down in that fight before losing a unanimous decision.

“I remember like it was yesterday,” Del Valle said Thursday afternoon. He was by the side of his world champion, Badou Jack the super middleweight who defends his title Saturday night against James DeGale in a unification bout at Barclays Center that will be televised on Showtime.

That was a memorable fight with Jones. At the time, Jones was considered by the boxing experts as the best pound-for-pound champion and DelValle was the perennial underdog. But the kid from the Bronx who turned to boxing to get off the streets defied all odds.

He gave Jones the fight of his career. But this was Lou Del Valle that night in the Garden at his best and now his knowledge of being a champion and what it takes to be there will continue Saturday in the corner giving directions.

“My trainer Lou Del Valle is the reason that I’ve improved so much,”said Jack, 20-1, 12 KO’s.  “I brought him back in after my loss and he’s helped get me to where I am right now.”

And for a fighter who arrived from Stockholm Sweden with no instincts it has been a journey. As it is in boxing, just like it was with Mike Tyson and the late Cus D’Amato, the fighter and trainer were meant to be with each other.  They met in Fort Lauderdale Florida when Del Valle was training other fighters after hanging up the gloves and started his other journey.

It has become a journey for Del Valle and a good one. Jack, 23-years of age has the instincts that Del Valle used in his championship fights and after his only loss to Derek Edwards, almost three years ago, it was back to the drawing board.

“What I do, I make fighters,” says Del Valle. He is the lead trainer for Jack and under the promotional banner of Floyd Mayweather Jr. the retired and undefeated welterweight champion. Mayweather is co promoting the boxing card with DiBella Entertainment and it is the first boxing promotion in New York since August, and for now  the million dollar insurance issue for fighters was put aside.

There is the strategy and this does not give away a game plan as to how Jack intends to get in the ring and unify the titles. No trainer or fighter will put their plan on the table before a championship fight.

However, Del Valle, known as “Pretty Boy” in the ring, always managed to get what he wanted. In essence, he knows boxing and comes from that old school way of training and using strategy that can keep the titles with his champion.  

“I know how to teach them them the short route and not make the same mistake,” says Del Valle. “Training, conditioning, sharpening up, I know to prepare a fighter because I learned the hard way. I lost fights cause of not doing that. I’ve been successful from the good and bad and I learned.”

Sounds simple and  for a fighter it is difficult to make adjustments. One trainer has another style from another, but when the right combination meets it leads to success and this very much sounds like the old school theory that Del Valle comes from.

There will be, as Del Valle says “showing how to hurt and protect.”

They spend time together. Del Valle is now making his home in Las Vegas now that he is working for Mayweather as does Jack. What started in Florida does continue with talks, walks, running and occasional bike riding.

It just makes this journey for Lou Del Valle a little easier in getting to know his fighter, and so much a replica  of what he he did when training his sister Melissa to a championship in the female ranks when they lived in Florida.

Mayweather has no doubts about this fighter-trainer and their relationship.

He said, “I’m so proud of Badou Jack. The first time I saw him in the gym, I was curious about him. If a guy is willing to fly overseas and take a bus to the boxing gym to accomplish his dreams, that’s what makes a great fighter.”

And Del Valle knows that being in the right place and at the right time, well sometimes that’s how the sport of boxing works.

“I did not expect this to happen…the politics of boxing,” said Del Valle. “We got there fast because of Floyd Mayweather. This opportunity doesn’t come like that. All I did was tune him (Jack) up, sharpen him up. He knew how to fight. Good hands, footwork and movement.”  

But Lou Del Valle knew the technique. Old school training that groomed Badou Jack into a champion in a tough battle Saturday night against a 30-year old puncher in James DeGale with a 23-1-14 KO record from London England.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso





About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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