Chordale Booker moves up to middleweight, faces Brian Chavez on Saturday at Mohegan Sun

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by Francisco Salazar | 

Chordale Booker will take his talents to a new weight class.

Booker will make his debut at middleweight Saturday night, as he squares off against Brian Chavez of Argentina at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The 10-round bout will headline a Championship Boxing 2024 card that will be promoted by longtime promoter Jimmy Burchfield. 

The 33-year-old Booker (22-1, 10 knockouts), who resides in nearby Stamford, has fought a handful of times at 160 pounds, but recently campaigned as a junior middleweight, even winning a WBC regional title belt at 154 pounds. 

In his last bout on February 3, Booker won by unanimous decision over Greg Vendetti. Booker missed weight, coming in a pound above the junior middleweight limit, and was stripped of his WBC regional title. It was then that Booker and his team believed the right move was to go up in weight and compete at 160 pounds.

“That was honestly a tough fight, stylistically,” said Booker, who is managed by Paul Guarino. “Vendetti’s kind of like an old school fighter in the way he tip his head over and position himself down low, kind of like a Jack Dempsey. It made it tough to throw punches exactly where he was going to be, but I figured it out through the rounds and started to place some shots and catch him while he was ducking.”

While Vendetti is a pressure fighter who utilizes his awkwardness, Booker will face a completely different fighter in Chavez (14-4, 5 KOs).

The southpaw Booker, a standout amateur who was a runner up at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, turned to a familiar person in IBF world welterweight titleholder Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis to train alongside in preparation for this fight. Booker traveled to Ennis’ hometown of Philadelphia to train with him.

The amount of time spent training with Ennis solidified Booker’s confidence going into the fight against Chavez.

“I’m going to show that (Chavez) doesn’t belong in the ring with me,” said Booker, who also made his pro debut in 2016. “From the videos I’ve seen, he’s more of a boxer. He wants to try and move his feet, move his head. I had 137 amateur fights, and he doesn’t look like anything I haven’t seen before. There’s nothing special that stands out to me about him, so I’m going to go in there and do what I want. I’m gonna see what he has, what punches he’s looking for, and after that, I’m gonna take him out.

“I came up with (Ennie) in the amateurs, and I knew it would be the best work. ‘Boots’ is a top talent. I have the best lefty in front of me and I’m preparing for the best version of Chavez, so some (this Saturday), if this guy is not ‘Boots,’ I should win big.”

Booker has won his last five fights since suffering his only defeat at the hands of then-unbeaten middleweight prospect Austin Williams in April 2022. Williams stopped Booker in the opening round.

Williams suffered his first loss as a pro in his last fight on June 1, losing by knockout to Hamsah Sheeraz in a clash of unbeaten middleweights. 

Booker hopes to redeem himself and is eager for a rematch against Williams down the line. He believes the first fight against Williams was not indicative of what type of fighter he really is and is confident he can win a rematch against Williams. 

“Everytime ‘Ammo’ fights, I watch,” said Booker. “I definitely want that back as a competitor, not anything malicious towards him as a person. Hamzah Sheeraz saw all the same things that any other fighter sees about ‘Ammo’: he’s mainly an athlete who can punch. Sometimes that’s not enough, someone figures out that you’re a one-trick pony and, if they can get past being hurt, you have a problem.

“I got hurt in my fight against (Williams) and I couldn’t get past that. Sheeraz got hurt in their fight and he got past it and he figured, ‘Alright, I just got to watch out for his left hand and I’ll be able to wear him down,’ because usually the guys who have power don’t have as much boxing ability.”

With a wide open division at 160 pounds, Booker could become a contender, should he make a statement at the expense of Chavez.

Booker hopes to face the upper echelon of the division later this year and into 2025. Having stopped opponents in three of last five victories, Booker believes his evolving skill-set will make it difficult for others in the division to prepare for.

“I would like to fight (WBA world titleholder) Erislandy Lara, (WBC world titleholder) Carlos Adames, or (unified world titleholder) Janibek Alimkhanuly. Me and Adames would be an action-packed fight, but I do think Janibek is the toughest opponent out of them and I’m for fighting the best. For me, it’s not just about winning a championship. I actually want to know if I’m the best or how close to it I am and what I need to do to be the best. I wish more fighters would do that so that we could get the fights and the opportunities we want, so there’s no preference on who I would fight.

“The fight (Saturday) will answer some questions about what I can do with a guy I feel like I’m superior to as far as boxing skills. I can say all the things that I want about him and any other fighter, but until I get in the ring with them, see what they have and how I win the fight will tell me what I really need to know about them, myself, and what I need to work on. 

“I’m preparing for the best version of him by putting myself in uncomfortable situations, going into other people’s gyms and trying to box the best guys. Putting it all on the line, so that when I hang them up one day, I know I did everything I could.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]

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