In boxing, there is as much talk about fighters who are the next big thing as some current champions. One up and comer that isn’t being talked about enough is Malik “Iceman” Hawkins. The Baltimore born and raised fighter is 18-0 with 11 KOs and currently slated as the featured bout at the Mohegan Sun on October 10th. The main even pits Sergey Lipinets against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov for the IBF interim welterweight belt, but the matchup before with Hawkins taking on the dangerous Subriel Matias (15-1-0 15 KOs) is equally compelling.
Tall with a long reach, Hawkins has power and speed that pairs well with his natural physical gifts. With an every growing boxing IQ at 140 Hawkins is guy who is a fight or two away from the title conversation. We got a chance to chat with Hawkins, who spoke to us fresh off of a late-night training session.
You’ve got a fight coming on October 10th it’s got to be one of the more interesting times of your career coming out of a really long layoff coming off of you know a global pandemic does this one feel a little bit different than the preparation for a usual fight?
Not really, the only thing different was the pandemic really. I’ve been training, I’ve been working hard, trying to stay ready. It really hasn’t been a big difference.
Did you have to spend much time training outside of the gym or were you able to get back in pretty quickly?
When the pandemic first started I was training in my basement. Not even really doing boxing stuff just a lot of calisthenics as far as push-ups and things like that just to keep my body in shape. I wanna say it was either early or late April when we got back to the boxing gym. As far as sparring we’re just getting back into boxing shape for real.
In terms of having to work out at home since you’re a unique perspective because you’re a professional athlete but yeah boxing training is so much different than what we would you know or what people think you know like a baseball player football player would have to go through at home do you have enough to do what you need to do to stay in shape or how limited is that for you?
I don’t have everything at my house but me being an athlete and professional fighter I’ve been doing this since I was 9 years old. I’ve been in the game long enough to be able to train myself.
You mentioned that you’ve been doing this since nine years old is that do you think boxing has that unique discipline that allows you to be able to get through this without you too many hitches in the training process?
Yes definitely, in boxing you have to stay disciplined. You can’t go off the cliff eating or drinking anything too crazy. Weight is probably the biggest thing as a fighter.
People have been trying to stay in shape at home as a professional athlete professional fighter what do you think is some of the best things that people can do while they’re stuck inside or while they’re maybe you know not feeling so comfortable going to the gym what would you recommend if you had to give somebody like two or three exercises that you can always do at home?
I would say regular things such as jumping jacks push-ups and basically just crunches. any type of sit-up you can do. When you’re in the house anything that’ll work my stomach. You can come up with any kind of situp drill.
Why sit-ups why would you key in on those especially?
In boxing, once you get tired a body shot will stick with you longer. So you want to get your stomach tight you want to make sure your stomach is strong. That’s the main thing you want strong on you if you don’t got anything else on you that strong you know you want to have a strong stomach because you want to be able to withstand body shots. The person you might be fighting might be a really good body puncher so you want to be able to withstand that.
You tend to be the bigger and longer fighter in most of your bouts. That will be the same for this one. Is that something you think plays to your advantage and into your approach as a fighter?
Yes, it does it plays a big role. I consider myself to be the bully. The big bully of the 140 division because of my size. I’ve just got to go in there and show the world that I’m the bully of my division. Go in there and showcase my skills.
As far as being the big guy is something you’re going to have to deal with differently once you get to the venue weight cut week and all that heading up to this fight?
No, not really. We’ve already started focusing on the weight cut now. We already started cutting weight, the camp is winding down and we’re taking our time. We’re still working hard, there are always things for me to work on and things of that nature. The work is never done. As far as everything I’ve just gotta go in there and showcase the work.
This is your longest layoff or at least one of the longest layoffs of your career, has that been frustrating to you is that something that you can’t just wait to get back in there and it’s 20 days can’t go quickly enough for you?
I’ve been wanting to get back in there but I didn’t want to risk my opponent having corona so I wasn’t really in a rush. Of course I was anxious and wanted to get back in the ring but I wanted to wait until everything was safe.
Your last fight was one of your highest-profile bouts to date, big crowd, are you looking forward to maybe having a unique experience with a crowd this fight is that something you think you’re going to actually be able to appreciate a later in your career?
Yeah yeah. Not having a crowd will make you appreciate the crowd even more. You know that people want to be there because of the pandemic and things they couldn’t. At the end of the day though the job still has to get done and I’m the fighter so I can’t worry myself about those types of things.
Is it going to be different you know being able to hear not only your own corner but his corner probably a lot more clearly is that something you had to work on blocking out everything you hear from across the ring rather than just having the crowd buzzing in the background?
No not really because when I’m in a fight my corner is the only people that I hear. I’m so focused it is like having tunnel vision. Once you’ve got something to get something you’re trying to do you you have to stay focused on it. My corner is there to help me reach my goals so they are the only things I hear at that moment.
Getting back into your start boxing a little bit you say you start training it 9 years old a scene you have a decorated amateur career you 24 years old 18-0 it seems like in today’s boxing world a guy like you should have already been in the title conversation already have had a title fight but you’re doing it at a different pace it is that something you feel is been really beneficial to you and will be long term?
Yes, I’m not in a rush. When you’re in a rush that’s how you end up with a loss or end up getting hurt or things of that nature. You know I’m just taking my time letting my promoter and team pick my fights, letting them determine if I can fight this fight or if this fight makes sense for me but at the moment I’m completely happy with the way my career is going so far.
Since signing with Mayweather promotions and in getting on Showtime you’ve been moving up on these bigger cards how does it feel to simile be that close to the fights with the belts, with gold is that something that you see sooner rather than later?
Now that I’m signed I definitely see it happening. I see it happening very soon. They are putting me in the right fights and giving me making the opportunity. Big shout out to Mayweather Promotions for that for giving me the opportunity. Yeah, I definitely see it happening in the very near future.
On the way up in your career you’ve gotten the chance to fight in Philadelphia I think probably like three or four times I saw through your record. how would you describe your experience into the Philly fight scene?
The Philly fight scene is real. They’ve got a real big fight scene there. It’s a boxing city. I love it, I love everything about fighting in Philly. They treated me like I was home and this and that even though I was coming into there town. Even the first time when I was on the B side and I still came out victorious. I’m speechless about Philly, I love Philly.
Is ther something from your last fight you’ve been focusing on or just you know another day another fight another day at the office?
More defensive techniques. Also staying more calm. Sometimes in my fights I can get a little riled up. Other than that really no changes.
Getting riled up is that something that just happens is that just something that happens for you over the course of a fight or is that something that you can consciously trying to work towards sort of getting out of your style?
It just happens over the course of the fight. Its just a mode I get into. I don’t know how I don’t know where it came from but once my mode gets going it’s on. I just get riled up.
Is that something that can happen to you outside of the ring is that something you can get going you know non boxing situation or is that something that just sort of only happens there?
Oh no it only happens in the ring. I’m very positive. I know what to do and how to be outside of the ring.
In terms of you nicknamed Iceman that sort of breeds the idea of calm cool collected how early did you get that nickname?
I was about 9 years old. When I first started boxing. One of the fighters at the gym started calling me that. It wasn’t even because of boxing it was because of a rapper. Paul Wall he said I looked like him.
Speaking of looking like people, you do you watch in boxing who do you want to emulate, you do you think is really beneficial to your style and your education in the fight game?
Of course Floyd Mayweather. Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Pernell Whitaker. I mainly watch old fighters.
When you’re watching guys like the Pernell Whitaker’s the Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns do you feel like since they length that you do a little bit and the height is that something that you really sort of worked in your game especially from watching them?
Tommy Hearns I watched him a lot. Tommy Hearns was the reason I started throwing my right hand more. I used to use my jab a lot more. As far as the speed that’s why I started watching Sugar Ray. Marvin Hagler is just an animal in the ring, that’s mainly why. And of course Floyd Mayweather, he’s just different. Smart outside, smart inside rolling his shoulders.
How would you describe your style of fighting how would you describe your style of fighting?
It depends on the fight. If I need to box you I’ll box you. If I need to brawl with you I’ll brawl with you.
With all of the anti-racism statements and being made in sports right now is that something that you feel like you’re going to have to do or you’re looking forward to doing once you get back on TV?
Of course I want to. I want to do it for people everywhere. I want to do it for people in the trenchs, coming from the struggle. No matter what color you are. I grew up there. I’ve seen a lot of death murder and chaos so I’m doing it for people from there. People coming from the bottom.
You were born and raised in the Baltimore area how is that influence or shape you were helped make you the person that you are today?
It had a big impact on me. It help shaped me into the man I am today. Baltimore helped me maneuver in and out of situations and think about a lot situations. It taught me how to use my head, my thinking muscles.
Do you put on for other Baltimore sports, other Baltimore athletes?
Of course. Anything Baltimore I’m very proud of. We could have a soccer team I’d be proud of it. I don’t care if we win 1 game and lose the rest of them I’m 100% Baltimore.
Do you have any favorite restaurants you could recommend to anyone coming through the city?
They gotta go to Moe’s Seafood. There’s a lot of other places too. One is Santa Maria’s carry out. There’s a ton of place in Baltimore you gotta go to.
One last question do you with the fight coming up obviously you’re not going to look past it but are you hoping to maybe get a chance to fight early 2021? Do you want to make a quick turnaround depending on your performance?
Of course I want to fight in 2021, I’m not sure about early though. It all depends on Mayweather Promotoins and my team. Once things get in order though we’re gonna be rocking and rolling.