Nikki Bascome will head to Las Vegas on a one-way ticket to rebuild his career under experienced boxing trainer Jeff Mayweather.
Bascome has turned to Mayweather, the uncle of Floyd — the undefeated multiple-weight world champion — to guide his comeback after suffering his first defeat against Fabio Costa, the Portuguese, in November.
He believes he has found a perfect fit in Mayweather, who is renowned for schooling defence, which is clearly Bascome’s Achilles’ heel.
The pair first worked together at the fabled Mayweather Boxing Club 2½ years ago, at the same time Floyd was preparing for his bout with Andre Berto.
“Jeff knows about my last fight and wants to work on my defence,” Bascome said. “Who better to learn from than a Mayweather? That’s his speciality.
“I’ve worked with him in the past, but it was never enough time ... a week here, a week there. Now I’ll be out there a little longer. It’s funny how the world works; maybe that defeat had to happen.”
Soon after the knockout defeat by Costa, Bascome became a father, his partner Marilyn Cupidore giving birth to their daughter Ryver.
Although it will be a huge sacrifice to temporarily leave his family, Bascome says he felt like a “kid in a candy store” when Mayweather, a former IBO super featherweight world champion, agreed to train him.
“I’ve done pad work with Jeff and we just clicked,” said Bascome, who is also close to signing with Las Vegas-based Towan Butler’s Right Hook Promotions.
“Jeff was in my corner when I was sparring prospects and he told me, ‘You’re almost there, you just need to be in this environment’. It’s long overdue and it’s where I need to be ... in with the wolves.”
Bascome believes he has “outgrown” the safe haven of Bermuda and needs to base himself in Las Vegas, the boxing capital of the world, where he plans to make his comeback next month.
It will be the first time he has fought off the island since his pro debut against Jorge Quintero in Florida in February 2014.
“Las Vegas is the ‘Mecca’ of boxing and being in that environment will help my professionalism,” said Bascome, who leaves the island next week.
“I’ve got a one-way ticket, so I don’t know when I will be back. I just need to get away from Bermuda, to grow and learn. It’s a small bubble and I’m the only professional.”
While Bascome will no longer be under the immediate care of coach Allan “Forty” Rego, he says he will for ever be grateful for his mentor’s guidance and support.
He admits he took exception to some views expressed by Rego in the fallout from his defeat, but still has enormous respect for a man who trained him from the age of 11.
“It’s been a rough time and there’s been some things going on behind the scenes, so we haven’t really talked,” said Bascome, who has been training at Beast Gym on Union Square to improve his strength and conditioning.
“I still have love for him and he took me far. I just need to grow and step outside of the box.”
Bascome admits he was hurt by the stinging criticism he received, particularly on social media, after his brutal loss to Costa at the Fairmont Southampton.
Subsequently, he feels it makes sense for his next bout to be overseas rather than under the glare of a notoriously unforgiving Bermuda public.
“I really want that space and it’s needed, to get away from the hype of things,” Bascome said.
“I’ve accomplished a lot in Bermuda and need to go to the next level. Taking nothing away from my coach, but in my last fight we had the wrong game plan.
“If I’d been around a more professional environment I don’t think I’d have fought that way. I got involved in a brawl and that’s not my style. Maybe I got caught up in the hype.”
The 27-year-old has since ditched social media to concentrate on his craft and safeguard him from the negativity of those who take pleasure from others’ misfortune. More importantly, Bascome says his experiences during the past few months have taught him some harsh but valuable lessons.
“I’ve actually deleted social media because I don’t want to read it and I don’t want people to know what I’m doing anymore,” he said.
“I want to be more productive and I want to work on me, really grind it out [in the gym]. I got caught up in that realm, letting people know what I was doing all of the time.
“The comments bothered me for a little while, but luckily I’ve got a good family and some real close friends. What other people say doesn’t matter. It’s about what my real friends say, because they’re the ones in my corner. I’ve had to dissociate myself from a few people.”
All of Bascome’s eight professional bouts have been at welterweight, although he believes his future could lie in the 140lb super lightweight division.
He revealed he had been advised to drop down a weight class by top referee Steve Smoger, who has officiated the majority of Bascome’s pro bouts.
“I got some good advice from Steve Smoger,” Bascome added. “He said, ‘I don’t think welterweight is best for you. Everyone you have fought has been way bigger’.
“I haven’t made 140 since I was 18, but I don’t think it will be hard. I was 144 in my last fight and I think my build and height is perfect for 140.”
Dealing with the psychological effects of a first defeat can be traumatic for any boxer. Bascome, however, insists he has never felt more hungry to succeed after the birth of his daughter and that his goal remains the same: to win a regional title.
“I think I can get there in a year and a half,” he added. “I’ve told my family that I want to dedicate myself to my craft for five more years and then I want to coach.
“I have to sacrifice more now, as I don’t want Ryver to look back and think her daddy was a loser.
“When she’s lying on my chest, I have peace and nothing else matters. Now I have something to look forward to every time I finish training.”