UNCASVILLE, Conn.—A D2 basketball star debuting as a heavyweight boxer tells Breitbart Sports that American athletes now go into basketball and football over boxing partly as a result of fistfights morphing from passage rite to taboo.
“A lot of athletes aren’t going into boxing and trying football and basketball because the times are changing,” Chaney offered. “You can’t really fight in public and get away with it any more.”
Once dominated by Americans, the heavyweight rankings now include just three U.S.-born boxers among the top-ten contenders vying for a shot at Wladimir Klitschko. Deontay Wilder stands tallest, literally and figuratively, among the American hopefuls at 33-0 with an amazing 32 knockouts. Chaney remains years away from consideration as a contender but as a young guy who brings size and athleticism he immediately elicits notice from fans looking for an American to reclaim the title held by Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, and Joe Louis.
Cassius Chaney sports a name for boxing but a hairdo for basketball—ABA basketball, to be precise. He starred on the hardwood at the University of New Haven. He boxed high above the canvas at Mohegan Sun Arena. Whereas American-born athletes have steadily shifted away from the solitary sweet science toward team sports for a half century, the atavistic Chaney walks as a one-man reverse migration.
The 27-year-old, standing with his manager, four-time NBA All-Star Vin Baker, told Breitbart Sports that the athleticism he possesses from his basketball career “helps me out a lot” in the ring. His size as a natural heavyweight does, too.
This weekend, the sixth-leading scorer in New Haven basketball history made his professional debut in a dark bout on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights card. He pummeled Perry Filkins to a knee near the end of the first round, offering an all-business punch when Filkins offered him a friendly glove once action resumed. The 6’6’’ heavyweight, who tells Breitbart Sports that he stands 6’8’’ with the afro, stepped on the gas pedal to start the second, which quickly finished Filkins.
Chaney may be a novice in the professional ranks. But he boasts experience outside of the ring. He says that the cultural pressure that made street fighting unusual didn’t quite make it to the neighborhood in which he came of age.
“Growing up I was always fighting,” Chaney confesses. “It was basketball and fighting, fighting and basketball. That’s just how my neighborhood was.”