The Rise of Louisville Prospect Demontaze Duncan
Like so many kids who grow up in Louisville Kentucky, Demontaze Duncan (2-0, 2KO) idolized Muhammad Ali. Except he isn’t just any other kid from Louisville. He and “The Greatest” share far too many qualities and accomplishments for that. Growing up on the same west end of town that spawned the boxing icon, the kid they call “Juicy” didn’t exactly have an easy upbringing.
GROWING UP THE HARD WAY
Losing his mother to what was ruled a self inflicted gunshot at the young age of seven was just the first of many tragedies in the youngsters life. With his father serving a lengthy prison sentence he ultimately settled in with great uncle James K. Davis, who also lost his life to gun violence.
Enter Coach and now Legal Guardian Nicholas Bareis. Demontaze was only ten years old when he and Bareis first met. Coach Nick was running a boxing program and looking for some tough kids who could use the guidance and discipline that comes along with the sport of boxing. Acting on a tip from an employee, he found Demontaze and brother Demetrius (also a stand-out amateur) playing basketball on the west end of Louisville. They didn’t quite become Louisville Select Boxing’s dynamic duo overnight.
As Mr. Bareis would explain it “Juicy” was still dealing with some maturity issues at the time and was placed in alternative schooling for behavioral issues. This was to be expected for a kid who had endured what he had. This entire article could be spent on the relationship of Duncan-Bareis, the exact type of relationship retired two-division unified champion Andre Ward had with his trainer Virgil Hunter and retired undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson with Hall of Fame trainer Cus D’Amato.
BOXING BECAME A MUSE
As the young slugger aged a little and matured it was off to the races. Having his first fight at the age of twelve in August of 2015, by June of 2016 he was winning his first National Title. It also happened to be the day his idol was laid to rest. Prior to his passing, Ali had heard of Demontaze and his brother and invited them to a sit-down dinner with his wife after which he told his wife Lonnie the brothers reminded him of himself; the ultimate compliment in this industry. With a burning desire to reach the heights of his hero “Juicy” compiled a 78-6 amateur record and was ranked as the #1 welterweight in the nation.
While everyone in the Ohio Valley already knew of the welterweight puncher, it wasn’t until he competed in the 2019 National Championship that he got the national notoriety he deserved. After the pandemic halted multiple trips to compete internationally for Team USA, he began to set his sites on what was always the ultimate goal: competing professionally.
As 2020 ended the promotional and managerial offers poured in. However, Duncan and Bareis opted to stay independent for the time being. This is a choice we’re beginning to see many more high-level prospects take. WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney for example stayed busy and active as an independent fighter while he built his profile. This led to him being able to ultimately command a better deal from Matchroom Boxing when he signed.
THE RISE OF A NEW PROSPECT
Staying busy and active is a top priority for Coach Nick, and they’re having no issues managing that. His first pro fight, a knockout victory back in January, was followed up with a brilliant KO victory in April. In that fight, the promotion had to move young “Juicy” to the main even because of popular demand. In front of a hometown sell-out crowd and paying homage to Ali by wearing his 1960’s Olympic fight shorts, the two-fight pro met his opponent with a level of pressure and confidence that most cannot pull off.
His style is somewhat reminiscent of a right-handed Marvin Hagler. Power to hurt you with both hands and a thundering persistent jab that sets up a dynamite right hand. He’s got this exhausting forward pressure mixed with the ability to counter and punch between punches. Most boxing experts would watch and think he operates like a well-traveled veteran. The kind of fire power he’s packing leaves people like his opponent with little hope as he was stopped in just under minute.
With fight and KO victory number 2 under his belt, the Louisville Select Boxing’s star pupil already has multiple fights scheduled. June 4 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, June 21 in Shelbyville Kentucky, and a date TBA in August back home in Louisville. We can rave about Duncan’s boxing ability all day and speculate how many world championships he may or may not win. However, the reality is he is already a winner at life. Obstacle after obstacle, tragedy after tragedy he has endured. His life is already a story of perseverance.
TURNING A TROUBLED PAST INTO A BRIGHT FUTURE
Through boxing and the guidance of people who care for him greatly he has evolved from a troubled kid with a rough past to a professional athlete coveted by many of the sport’s top companies. He has gone from the kid who went to school and got in trouble, to the kid who goes to school to speak with youngsters about making the right choices. Through these speaking engagements, Juicy gives back to the city he loves and they love him back.
It’s just the beginning but the writing is on the wall the Louisville/Ali/Boxing connection will always leave Juicy with lofty expectations and unfair comparisons. Nevertheless, if how he’s handled life’s battles is any indicator to how he will operate going forward in his career, he should manage those expectations just fine.
By: Tanner Gill