Raymond Ford: “Hopefully, I’m a world champion at 122 and then move up to 126 and start taking over there.”
By Chris Akers
Sometimes life hands you opportunities that you need to grab with both hands.
Soon after winning the U.S National Golden Gloves in 2018, Raymond Ford was contacted by Eddie Hearn and was offered the opportunity to turn pro with Matchroom. How Hearn contacted him was a little unconventional.
“He saw my post on Instagram and sent me a DM and that’s how we started talking,” says Ford
Soon after that message, Ford signed with Hearn. What was it about him that made Ford think ‘Yeah I want to sign with that promoter?’
“He was the first promoter to reach out to me before I was even thinking about going pro. I saw what he was doing with a few people who were in the Golden Gloves with me. I’d seen how he was moving their careers. Plus when I had my meeting with him, he was saying a lot of great things.”
Coming from Camden, New Jersey, which Ford describes growing up as “a real rough city. A lot of drama and things going on out there,” he initially got into boxing as a result of getting expelled from a lot of schools. From there, his mom took him to a boxing gym.
“I was expelled for fighting,” says Ford. “I swung a lot at teachers. I swung at the principal and at that time my mom took me to the gym.”
“I loved it. That’s what I needed for real,” is how Raymond describes how he found boxing when he first entered a gym. Discipline was instilled. Punches lead to praise and not expulsion.
Success came in the amateur ranks by winning gold at the 2017 Ringside World Championships, then achieving success with the aforementioned 2018 win in the 123-pound division at the U.S National Golden Gloves.
He represented the U.S.A away from home in a contest against Bulgaria. The reason that was the only time he represented them was because of an argument with the team’s head coach.
“Yeah,” he laughs. “I also represented them in a duel with Germany. But those were the only two times I represented them.”
Disappointment also occurred in the amateur ranks, particularly with the judging. Competing in back to back U.S Nationals, Ford lost on close decisions to Marc Castro and Duke Regan. Both times he felt he won.
“I lost in the finals to the top dudes in the division and, they were close fights, but I felt like I pulled them off. That’s another reason why I turned pro. Not saying I couldn’t have done more at amateur level, as I felt I could have done more. I just felt like it was going to take a lot from me to convince the judges to get them on my side.”
It was this that prompted him to turn professional. It is also a big reason why he decided not to stay amateur for a couple of years and try and qualify for the Olympics.
“I was going to do the Olympics. I qualified for the trials. But I didn’t like how the judging was going and I was starting to lose the love for the amateurs. I wanted to start making money. I was getting older and I wanted to do things a lot of my friends were doing. So I felt like I needed to start making some money and start to enjoy life.”
Based at TKO Fitness in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Ford is trained by Reginald Lloyd along with Rashiem Jefferson. What makes them good trainers for him?
“They all got different things that they bring to the table. They all show me a lot of different things. All the things they show me help me, and they work when I fight.”
They were several fighters that Ford watched when he started boxing, though one in particular he watched more than the others.
“When I was started boxing I was watching Floyd Mayweather. I was watching all of his 24/7s and I watched every fight of his. I was watching Adrian Broner before he started to go downhill. Roy Jones, Shakur Stevenson, Canelo Alvarez, Gervonta Davis. I watched a little bit of Tevin (Farmer). I was in the same gym as Tevin and was sparring him. It was a bunch of fighters I was watching.”
Speaking of Shakur Stevenson, the WBO featherweight champion is someone Ford has sparred a lot and describes him as “he’s one of the best sparring partners I’ve ever gone up against.”
Winning all of his five professional fights (2 KOs), Ford’s second fight took place in the U.K in May 2019.
“That was my second favourite place to fight. They showed a lot of love there. I want to go back. They show more love then what I’m shown in the U.S.”
Although boxing has returned after a prolonged absence due to the pandemic (albeit behind closed doors), the current future is quite unpredictable due to the current medical situation. Bearing that in mind, where would Ford like his career to be in the next 18 months?
“I hope I’m fighting for a title. A world title, not one of the youth belts or anything like that. Hopefully, I’m a world champion at 122 and then move up to 126 and start taking over there.”
Ford is due to fight Eric Manriquez on August 15th in Tulsa. This will give him a chance to again showcase why he has been given the moniker of ‘Savage.’ With the depth at both super bantamweight and featherweight, if Ford can conquer both divisions, then he’ll surely be a star in the sport.