Nikki Bascome will begin his boxing comeback in the familiar surroundings of the Poinciana Ballroom at the Fairmont Southampton this month.
Despite winning three of his eight bouts under the glittering chandeliers of the plush venue, Bascome, in many ways, will be entering uncharted territory when he faces Mexican David Martínez on Saturday, November 24.
Since his previous outing at the Fairmont Southampton 12 months ago, when he endured the first defeat of his career, a brutal knockout by Portuguese Fábio Costa, Bascome’s life has turned upside down.
He has become a father, temporarily moved to Las Vegas to train at the renowned Mayweather Boxing Club, and suffered a loss more painful than any he could possibly experience inside the ring. Less than three months after losing to Costa, Bascome’s longtime coach and father figure, Allan “Forty” Rego, died from cancer, aged 86.
The one-on-one relationship between trainer and fighter is usually intense and multifaceted, but Bascome’s strong connection with Rego was extra special.
“It’s definitely difficult with him not being here, but I’m preparing the best way I know how,” Bascome told The Royal Gazette.
“I’m never going to have a coach like Rego for as long as I’m boxing. He gave me a lot of his knowledge, a lot of his time, and we have a lot of memories. I hold him dear to my heart.
“I’m only human and I’ve tried not to dwell on it, but, for me, it’s been very hard.”
Rego’s absence has left a void that Bascome cannot possibly fill. There will, however, be no shortage of boxing acumen in his corner in the form of esteemed coach Jeff Mayweather, the uncle of Floyd, and Troy Darrell, arguably Rego’s most successful protégé,
“It does give me confidence having those two in my corner, but I’m the only one in the ring,” Bascome said. “I’ll listen and try to do the best things they tell me.
“They can’t fight for me, though; I need to just let it flow.”
Bascome has been working with Mayweather since the start of the year, although the Bermudian has eschewed the bright lights of Vegas in favour of more intimate surroundings for the final weeks of his training camp.
“I’ve chosen to come to Florida because it’s something I’m used to from when Rego was around. I wanted a bit more solitude and it allows me to dial in more. I figured that I’d come to Rego’s grandson [Ascento Russell’s] house were we started together, just to feel a little more comfortable. I can still feel his presence.”
Adding another layer of intrigue to the eight-round bout is having the vacant IBA international welterweight title on the line.
Although the IBA is not one of the four major boxing organisations, there have been several notable champions including Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones Jr, Shane Mosley, as well as Bermuda women’s boxer Teresa Perozzi. With 15 of their 17 weight divisions vacant of champions, the recently relaunched IBA offered the fight to Bascome’s promoters.
“[Winning a title] is something I’ve always dreamt of,” Bascome said. “I’m trying not to focus on the belt too much. I’m just focusing on winning the fight. I’m not looking past David Martinez; I know it’s going to be very interesting ... a new territory for me.”
Ideally, Bascome says he would have had a bout overseas in the summer to prepare for such a consequential fight, but “it just didn’t work out”.
He believes it is imperative he sticks to his game plan and avoids getting enveloped in the hype — a tough lesson learnt from his loss to Costa.
“I’m in for a good fight and I’ve been taking my preparations very seriously,” Bascome added. “I’m just preparing to be adaptable on the night and to impose my game plan. I’m looking to do the things that I’m good at: I’m patient and I’m a boxer. But if he brings a fight, I’ll have something for that as well.”