Dallas Finds Rebirth in Oakland
By Ryan Maquiñana, MaxBoxing (June 24, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing (Photo ©Team Dallas )  
Mike Dallas Jr.
The upset bug affected Dallas in more ways than one this year.
 
While the Mavericks recently pulled off the feat against the world’s most hated team, the Miami Heat, in the NBA Finals, Mike Dallas Jr. was conversely snakebitten in Temecula by Josesito Lopez five months ago.
 
Now the light welterweight prospect looks to rebound at the very same site when he takes on once-beaten Mauricio Herrera at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in the “ESPN2 Friday Night Fights” co-feature.
 
“I’m very confident that everything I’ve learned will show up against Herrera,” said the 24-year-old Dallas, 17-1-1 (7). “I’ve learned a lot of new stuff up in this camp from my new trainer.”
 
Before he even started kindergarten, “The Silent Assassin” had bounced between the local PAL in his native Bakersfield and gyms around Southern California. Under the tutelage of his father and namesake, the well-respected Mike Sr., he had a decorated amateur career that included a silver medal at the 2006 National Golden Gloves and gold in the National PAL that same year.
 
After going undefeated in 18 straight bouts to start his pro career, with a résumé that included putting the first blemish on Lanard Lane’s record, Dallas came in as a prohibitive favorite against Lopez. But when the younger Dallas was deemed unfit to continue by referee Raul Caiz Jr. in the seventh round by virtue of the Riverside resident’s barrage of blows, he concluded that his routine needed to change.
 
“The change was a little of [the Lopez result], a little bit about attitude, fixing my mistakes but mainly, it was about just seeing things from a different point of view,” he remembered.
 
That adjustment would come 455 miles north from home at King’s Gym in Oakland. Known for producing Andre Ward and Juaquin Gallardo among others, the boxing club on 843 35th Avenue would serve as the temple for what Dallas has felt to be a career renaissance. 
 
For almost four months, the 140-pounder has put everything into perspective, from getting accustomed to the weather to the absence of his loved ones.
 
“Oh, it’s colder up here but that didn’t bother me as much,” Dallas said. “One thing though is that I actually had to miss my son Mekai’s third birthday party and that was a big sacrifice for me.”
 
Of course, much like going from being a homerun hitter to mastering the bunt single or switching from painting still lifes to abstract cubism, reinventing one’s style is never easy.
 
“Oakland’s become my second home to get away from distractions in L.A.,” said Mike Jr. “My head is clearer here to train. I started in March to get used to Virgil’s way of teaching. He’s a coach with a lot of knowledge and it’s great to get that along with everything I learned from my dad.”
 
The “Virgil” he’s referring to is Hunter, one of the quickest rising trainers in the sport due to his results with Ward, the current WBA super middleweight champion and favorite to win the “Super Six” final in October.  Dallas reflected on how he found his new head cornerman.
 
“I’ve known Virgil and Andre since I was little in the amateurs,” he recalled. “One of my friends, Paul Mendez, came up here and would train at King’s. That’s how we got started up here with Virgil. We talked through Paul.”
 
He then continued to describe the new facets of his game.
 
“We’ve been working on a lot of different things but mainly getting back to basics like keeping my hands up,” he said. “Before, I wasn’t used to fighting dirty, rough fighters. It’s been a different experience with Virgil and now I’m mentally there to face guys like that.”
 
His transformation couldn’t have come at a better time.  Herrera, 17-1 (7), from Lake Elsinore, Calif., is on a tear, reeling off four straight victories, including those over solid journeymen like Cristian Favela and Hector Alatorre. 
 
Of course, what makes Friday’s matchup intriguing is Herrera’s signature shocker over then-undefeated Ruslan Provodnikov on ESPN2, which took place three weeks before Lopez did the same to Dallas.
 
“I’m a different fighter from Provodnikov,” he argued. “I don’t come straight forward so I can be hit. I move my head and I’m more slick and styles make fights. If I have to box Herrera or bang with him, though, I’ll be ready.”
 
For this camp, Dallas employed the sparring services of super featherweight Eloy Perez, welterweight Karim Mayfield, middleweight Brandon Gonzales and Mendez, a junior middleweight, to hone his versatility. Whether he will apply what he has learned on Friday is another story but Dallas is confident that will be the case when the cameras are on and the bell rings.
 
Eventually, Dallas would like to get what a young Robert Guerrero received from Gamaliel Diaz or what Manny Pacquiao—the man he prepared as a sparring partner for the Joshua Clottey fight—obtained from Erik Morales: a second chance at his conqueror. Until then, a 24-hour Mauricio Herrera marathon occupies the mind of Mike Dallas Jr.
 
“My mind is on Herrera but I’d love to fight Lopez again,” he said. “I made an easy fight hard and I’d love to get a rematch but right now, I got this fight to take care of with Herrera.”
 
Ryan is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact him through email at rmaquinana@gmail.com, through Facebook at facebook.com/rmaq28 or follow him on Twitter @rmaq28.
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Ryan can be reached at rmaquinana@gmail.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/rmaq28 on Twitter at twitter.com/rmaq28.

* Special Thanks To MaxBoxing.




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