After his impressive second-round stoppage of Sergio "Cuatito" Lopez (19-10-1, 13 KOs) last Friday night at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, undefeated blue-chip featherweight prospect Toka "T-Nice" Kahn-Clary (17-0, 11 KOs) has officially graduated from an eight to ten-round fighter.
"My performance was good," Kahn-Clary looked back on his knockout of Lopez. "I didn't do anything to make it a difficult fight. I was a little concerned that my opponent came in overweight [128 lbs contract weight but Lopez weighed 132.2 lbs], but I didn't think too much of it.
"I really wanted to go four or five rounds for some more experience, but I put him down in the second round with a right hook, and took him out. [Lopez was unable to answer the bell for the third round.]
"I'm definitely ready for 10-rounders. [Head trainer] Peter [Manfredo, Sr.] always has me doing a lot of conditioning work. We sparred a lot of rounds for eight-round fights, so I've been ready for 10-round fights. I won't be fighting again until next year, but I'll be back in the gym next Monday."
A decorated American amateur who had a 131-11 record, highlighted by a gold-medal performance at the 2010 National Golden Gloves Tournament, Kahn-Clary passed on a shot to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team, turning pro three years ago.
"I think Toka made a big statement and so did Top Rank [Kahn-Clary's promoter]," Manfredo added. "They're so high on him that they want to put him in a big fight. I told them to give us a 10-round fight first, maybe in January or February, and then we can talk about him fighting a top guy. There's no rush; he's only 23.
"Toka's really maturing. He still doesn't have 'man strength' but he's getting there. He always works hard. He spars hard with bigger guys. He doesn't just beat up a sparring partner, he beats up the gym, three or four fighters a session. And most of the time he's sparring bigger guys and using big gloves."
Born in Liberia, the 23-year-old Kahn-Clary is a rising star with lofty expectations. "I want to compete at the top level," he explained. "Next year, I will keep working hard and hopefully fight some decent named opponents. I'm not ready for the top guys in my division, not yet, but I'll be there in another year."