Philadelphia, PA–Overcoming the loss of his 10-year-old son 12 years ago, Vaughn Jackson, Mike Jones’ trainer, has turned tragedy into inspiration with the help of family, faith and boxing.
Jackson is winding down his training with Jones, who meets Jesus Soto-Karass (a rematch of their Nov. 13 fight, which Jones won by majority decision) on Feb. 19 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.
“It was a devastating loss, the worst feeling a parent can ever have, “said the 41-year-old Jackson, whose first child, Vaughn Welcome Jackson, sustained a fatal vocal cord injury while playing by himself in his room in December, 1998.
“At age 8, he wanted to box, so I took him to Joe Frazier’s gym. We trained together and he built up a 16-0 amateur record,” said a reflective Jackson, who boxed briefly as a teenager but couldn’t dedicate himself to the sport because of the reality of having to work.
“I took a year or so off from going to the gym, but I started to go to church regularly during that time. In 2000, I started to go back to the gym. I thought my son would have wanted me to do and that’s what turned my life around.
“I then started to take another son, who was 9 (Jackson has five children), to the Joe Hand gym on a regular basis and by the time he was 11, he was No. 2 in the country. At that time, I started training three local amateur fighters (Rashiem Jefferson, Saaed Hawkins, Mike Colston). Jefferson and Hawkins made it to the semifinals of the 2004 Olympic Trials.
“I met Mike (Jones) after the trials from a mutual acquaintance, a female boxer, who recommended me as an-up-and-coming trainer. Mike was looking for a new trainer at that time before he turned pro. We knew of each other and when he came to visit me at the gym we hit it off.
“Mike had a lot of natural ability and I liked his style. I wanted to enhance his strengths and work on correcting his faults without taking away from his strengths.”
“My life has really turned around in the last 12 years with the help of my faith and family and being involved in boxing, my passion. But there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my son Vaughn. He’s my guardian angel who gives me spiritual lifts to this day. And I know he’ll be there on February 19.”
JACKSON ON THE JONES vs. SOTO-KARASS REMATCH
“We want to quiet all of the critics that have doubts in Mike since his first fight with Soto-Karass. Don’t judge a fighter from one off-night. Mike overcame a lot of adversity in that fight and still won. We want to win more clearly this time.”
“Mike made a mistake and he didn’t stick to his game plan. He shot his load in the second round but he believed, as I do, that he did enough to win the fight.”
“We know that Soto-Karass will come out like a raging bull in this fight. I want Mike to gradually break down Soto-Karass and slow him down so that Mike, the matador, will gore the bull and finish him off.”
Mike Jones vs. Jesus Soto-Karass rematch, co-promoted by Top Rank and Peltz Boxing Promotions, takes place on Saturday, Feb.19, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The 12-round title fight will be televised live on HBO beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET along with Fernando Montiel defending his bantamweight title against two-division champion Nonito Donaire.