Lajuan Simon, USBA Middleweight Champion
Interview by Ken Hissner, DoghouseBoxing (Nov 29, 2008)  
He has that quiet manner to him, until he steps into the ring! Philly’s Lajuan Simon captured the USBA middleweight title over veteran Corey Johnson, 34-3-2 (11), of Detroit, September of 2007 in Dickson City, Pennsylvania.

Johnson, a shifty southpaw who has fought for a world title, barely won a round. Simon has a workmanlike style that has brought him 20 wins, 2 draws, and 1 no-contest since his debut in September of 2002.
He is currently ranked 12th in the IBF and 13th in the WBC organizations.

“He came into the Champs gym at 16 for a couple of months,” said his head trainer Wade Hinnant, who along with his brother Randy train Chazz Witherspoon, and unbeaten prospects Teon Kennedy and Dennis Hasson among others. “He came back again at 17, and finally at 19 he was ready,” added Hinnant. Hinnant himself was a successful Philly fighter in the late 70’s winning 14 of 16 fights. “He is very coachable and dedicated, along with being a gym rat,” added Hinnant. “He came back into the gym 3 weeks after getting his jaw broke, just to keep active by working out,” said Hinnant.

“Dave Escalet is my manager, and Greg Azar of Rising Star is my promoter,” said Simon. “I’m in a keep busy fight December 5th at the Blue Horizon and hope to defend my USBA title soon after,” he added. I asked him whom he would like to fight. “WBO #4 Joe Greene’s people had turned us down and Brian Vera #8 IBF contender had sparred with me at Joe Hand’s Gym in South Philly before stopping previously unbeaten Andy Lee. I don’t think Vera would fight me,” said Simon. “I lost by disqualification to Randy Griffin (WBA #4) in the amateurs when I had 7 fights and he had over 100. Willie Gibbs and I split in our 2 fights,” said Simon. Simon had 40 amatuer fights.

Simon had won 4 of his first 5 fights, with a lone draw to Jose Diaz, before meeting fellow Philly prospect William Scales who had won all his 3 fights by knockout. “That was one tough fight,” said Simon. After 2 more wins he got tendonitis in his left arm which kept him from fighting for a year. “He would still come into the gym and use his right arm,” said Hinnant.

His first fight back ended in the 1st round when his opponent Horace Cooper suffered a cut above his left eye from an accidental headbutt, causing a no-contest result. Next would be fellow Philly super middleweight (the class Simon was fighting in then) Jameel Wilson with whom he won a majority decision over in his first 8 round bout. “We had sparred together and I really didn’t want to fight him until he said he wanted the fight”, said Simon. He would win the UBA Super Middleweight Title 2 fights later over the Cameroon’s Manu Ntoh, stopping him in the 7th round. “He had close to 30 fights and was only stopped once by David Telesco,” said Simon. Richard Grant would be a victim several fights later. “He was crafty and to my shock came in with pink hair,” said Simon.

This closed out 2005 with a NBA Junior Intercontinental Super Middleweight Title next, scoring a stoppage of Alberto Albaladejo in 4 rounds. Next was the spoiler in Darnell Boone, who had wins over previously unbeaten Ronald Johnson and Chris Archer, along with a win over Philly’s Rasheem Brown. “It was only a 6 round fight and he ran the entire time, and I thought I won,” said Simon. The fight ended in a draw. Just 2 fights later he had his jaw broke against Levan Easley, but still managed to win a split decision in 8 rounds. “He broke my jaw in the 3rd round,” said Simon.

Simon’s first fight in 2007 was a 6 round decision over spoiler William Gill, who came in at 175. “I got weighed with my clothes on coming in at 173, and found him to be very strong,” said Simon. In September, some 6 months later he would win the USBA Middleweight Title coming in at 158, over Johnson. In 2008, Simon beat Elco “The Animal” Garcia, 19-6, of Mexico, over 10 rounds. “He came to fight,” said Simon.

In May he scored a 1st round blow out over James Morrow in Atlantic City, promoted by Rising Star. In his most recent bout in late October in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, Simon easily stopped Emmanuel Gonzalez, a tough southpaw, from Puerto Rico in 6 rounds. Simon had a very calm demeanor in this match with his corner telling him to go more to the body. He would wink to them, and follow their instruction.

“I just came back from the WBO convention in Florida and they said they would put Lajuan in their top 15,” said Escalet. “His promoter, Rising Star is negotiating with several casinos about a future fight early next year,” he added.

Simon only needs that one big fight to put him into a title bout with any of the 3 champions. His favorite fighter is Marvin Hagler, with whom he would like to join as one of the middleweight champions past and present. “I pray before every fight. The Lord keeps me doing what I am doing,” said Simon.

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