Ferdinand Kerobyan hopes for a little TV time tonight on ESPN2

Junior middleweight Ferdinand Kerobyan (left) vs. Lucius Johnson. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

Junior middleweight Ferdinand Kerobyan (left) vs. Lucius Johnson. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions


Slated to perform in tonight’s TV swing bout, on ESPN2, Ferdinand Kerobyan will need some luck to go his way to make his television debut, and the 20-year-old junior middleweight prospect feels made for the moment, should it come.


“You can’t let anything bother you when you’re backstage,” Kerobyan told UCNLive.com, at a media workout last week. “You go in there; you know your routine. You get there early – you never want to be late – you start warming up, start doing your stretches, get your hands wrapped, and, then after that, you got to block everything out. Focus on the fight.”


In the basement of the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles, California, Kerobyan will have to be wrapped earlier than usual, in hopes that at least one of tonight’s featured TV fights (8:00 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT) ends early. In the main event, heavy-handed junior welterweight prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. takes on Mexican roughneck Juan Carlos Salgado, and, in the co-feature, San Antonio, Texas’ Hector Tanajara Jr. takes on Venezuelan wild card Roger Gutierrez in a junior lightweight contest.


At the time of our interview, Kerobyan, 8-0 (4), didn’t know who he was scheduled to fight in this six-rounder but that is the typical norm for prospects, at this stage, not to mention always the way it is in the amateurs. Edgar Garcia, 7-16-1 (2), ended up being his opponent, and one challenge the Mexican presents, nearly unseen in his woeful record, is he’s only been stopped once. Kerobyan knows the situation he’s in – he’s supposed to look good in there – but having a chance to get on television won’t change a thing. Fighting in front of crowds is something he got used to in his second fight as an amateur.


“I’m usually very calm,” Kerobyan said about his state of mind before a fight. “I’ve never been afraid of the spotlight. I feel like, the more pressure I’m under, the better I perform. That all comes from when I was 10 years old. I fought in Palm Springs and it was for my first amateur championship belt. It was only my second fight as an amateur. I fought in front of a thousand people, and, from that day on, I just got over it.”


There’s a reason Kerobyan was tabbed to be a TV time-filler. Out of the orthodox stance, Kerobyan is a musclebound 154-pounder who shows he has the tools to box but has a knack for slugging it out with his opponents. To put it simply, it’s not hard for him to get in a good fight, and it would be astonishing if he could surpass his most recent go-around, last January.


“I feel like the better competition I’m in there with, the better I perform,” Kerobyan said about his fight against Lucius Johnson. For the extent of five rounds, Kerobyan battered Johnson around the ring, in a one-sided action fight. Johnson was taller, awkward and well over super middleweight on fight night, and, while Johnson’s own toughness prevented him from going down, Kerobyan knocked the mouthpiece out of his mouth on three separate occasions. In the sixth and final round, however, Kerobyan was caught with a big counter right hand from Johnson, and it completely changed the tone of the fight. For the final 90 seconds, Kerobyan was in survival mode, and, as Johnson sought the knockout win, the brawny Armenian with a craving for action was left only looking for the final bell. (Note: In another fun, losing effort, Johnson dropped Serhii Bohachuk, another 154-pound prospect, three months later, and is currently a sparring partner for WBO super middleweight titleholder Gilberto Ramirez).



“Well, I was looking for the knockout,” Kerobyan said about that final round with Johnson. “I can say that it was a thing that made me even more humble as a fighter. I was never really hurt; I just took a good shot, and that all comes from me pushing for the knockout. My corner was telling me to lay back, and, then once I had him hurt in the fifth round, I was trying to get him out of there. I want to give the fans what they want, always, but as you grow as fighter, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes and you have to learn how to have better composure. When you’re in the ring, you always want to keep your composure. I feel like the fighter that loses his composure, loses the fight 99 percent of the time. Because it’s a sign of weakness and you’re letting the guy know that he’s getting in your head. Once he’s in your head, there’s not much you can do. I feel like that was a valuable lesson for me.”


Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Kerobyan is now a U.S. citizen living in North Hollywood, California, and fights out of nearby Glendale, where you’ll find the biggest population of Armenians in Los Angeles County. If the video game “Street Fighter” needed an Armenian character, recreating Kerobyan wouldn’t be a terrible idea. According to him, “Kerobyan” translates to “top of the food chain” and the surname traces deep into the history books, back home, where it’s assured that every Kerobyan on Earth is part of the same family. In his corner, Kerobyan has his lifelong coach, a historical name in Armenian boxing lore.


“My lead trainer is Nshan Munchyan,” Kerobyan said. “He was the first world champion Armenia ever gave. In 1993, he became a world champion. In 1996, he went to the Olympics with Floyd Mayweather (Jr.). He was at 48 kilos (106 pounds), the lowest weight there was. I started with him since I was seven years old.”


Kerobyan signed with Golden Boy Promotions in the middle of last year, and delivered three knockouts leading up to his entertaining scrap with Johnson.


“After I signed with (Golden Boy founder) Oscar De La Hoya, I signed with (former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and Hall-of-Famer) Ronda Rousey,” said Kerobyan, who trains out of the same gym as the female superstar. “She’s my manager and she’s helping me with getting fights. I was the first fighter to sign with her, then she opened up One Fight Management.”


It’s unclear if Rousey will actually be in Kerobyan’s corner tonight but if the newly-minted WWE star’s schedule permits, it’ll be a nice attention-getter for the young fighter, especially if he makes television. However things always seem to work out for the “Lucky Boy,” who earned the nickname thanks to his reputation of being a a great poker player – or great at any card game, for that matter. No matter what happens, Kerobyan will be going through the same motions as he does before any other fight.


“I feel like us Armenians are very prideful,” Kerobyan explained. “When we go to the ring, we want to make sure we leave a good impression and we always want to give the fans what they want. The thing is, I always prepare to do what I’m capable of doing in the ring. I don’t want to adjust to what my opponent does. I want him to adjust to what I’m doing. As I’m in the ring, I’m able to adjust to all types of styles. If he likes to slug, I’ll keep my distance. If he wants to stay there, I’ll get up close to him and bother him. I feel like, when you do that, that’s how you become a complete fighter.”




You can reach Michael Baca II at mikebaca2@gmail.com and follow him at twitter.com/mikebaca2




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