Patrick Day, a 25-year-old with an easy smile, split the four parallel rows of ropes with his left hand. Stepping into the ring at the Freeport Police Athletic League gym, at Frank O. White Park, off Parsons Avenue, he started shadowboxing alongside his coach, mentor and manager, Joe Higgins.
This Saturday, Day, who has a 14-2 record, including six knockouts, will defend his World Boxing Council Continental Americas title in the 154-pound weight class against Kyrone Davis, a bruiser from Delaware with a 13-1 record, including five knockouts, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Inside the Ropes magazine called the matchup “a great fight in the making.”
On Tuesday, as Day prepared for the fight, he appeared relaxed. “I’m balanced right now,” he said as he sat down ringside after his workout. “I’m just getting focused. I can’t get nervous or say, ‘I’m excited about the fight Saturday.’”
Day spent eight grueling weeks preparing to face Davis. His training is finished. Anything else between Tuesday and Saturday would be all mental, he said. Higgins said that the fight would determine whether Day will be able to fight a marquee match this summer.
According to boxing pundits, Day has traditionally been seen as an underdog, but when he defeated top-ranked Eric Walker, also known as “the Baby-faced Assassin,” last July, the boxing world took notice.
Day said he was calm, despite the pressure of defending his title on Saturday. With a laugh, he said he distinctly remembered the first time he hit a punching bag. “I was 14 years old,” he said. “Coach [Higgins] lives across the street from me. So I wandered into Coach’s garage to hit the bag a few times. When he caught me in his garage, he yelled at me for trespassing and for risking an injury.”
Higgins said he was happy to discover that Day was curious about boxing. Freeport PAL is the area’s hub for boxers of all ages and backgrounds. Famed Long Beach boxer Sean Mahoney trains there, but Day is the first native Freeporter who works out there to earn national and worldwide recognition.
“He’s a role model,” Higgins said. “Kids here look up to him. He’s a success story.”
Before dedicating his life to boxing, Day longed to be an athlete, but when he didn’t make the Freeport High School basketball team, he was discouraged.
“I had so much energy,” he said. “Boxing allowed me to get it out.”
Most boxers start training before they turn 10. By that standard, Day started several years too late, but he was determined to make it big in boxing.
And he has made up for lost time. He was named the New York Daily News Golden Glove champion in 2012, and honored as a Sugar Ray Robinson Outstanding Athlete that year. He also became a USA Boxing national champion, and was an alternate for Team USA in the 2012 Olympic Games.
“I remember the day Patrick’s parents brought him home from the hospital,” Higgins said. “He’s like a son to me.”
Proud of his Haitian-American roots, Day earned a degree in nutrition from Kaplan University. Education is important to him, he said, noting, “I want to show people that I’m not just a boxer, but that I’m educated, too.”