A few months ago, I was sitting eating tacos in the home of former IBF lightweight champion Paul Spadafora and we were talking about future talents in boxing.
“There’s that kid at the Mayweather Gym, he’s unreal,” said Spadafora excitedly.
“You’ve got to see this him. Look up Curmel Moton on YouTube.”
“He’s incredible, he looks just like Tank [Gervonta Davis]. You need to see him.”
I put in Moton’s name and watched the highlight reel. There was Moton, in some videos possibly no more than 11 or 12 years of age, stopping young fighters with both head shots and with body blows.
Spadafora continued to praise Moton, who is now a 17-year-old wonderkid with the world at his feet, talent in his fists and someone who is not just being groomed to win titles but to be a star.
Pittsburgh native Spadafora has taken his squad of young fighters to numerous tournaments across America and seen Moton impress over the years, winning several of his 18 national titles.
Now Moton turns professional on Saturday, boxing 4-0 Ezequiel Flores in a support bout to the huge Canelo-Jermell Charlo clash at the T-Mobile in Las Vegas.
Spadafora’s effusive praise was partly surprising as, of course, there is no love lost between Spadafora and former sparring rival Mayweather from years ago; but clearly that counted for nought (and rightly so) in Spadafora’s analysis of the precocious talent.
A couple of days later, I bumped into Ashley Theophane, himself a former part of The Money Team and Mayweather sparring partner and I asked him about Moton and he was equally as excited about Moton when I mentioned the name.
How good the precocious talent is was apparently an unkept secret, and while some are sceptical because of Moton’s age – whether he has or hasn’t developed ‘man strength’, whether he should have spent longer in the amateurs – Mayweather is so confident in his young charge that he recently said he reckoned Moton would beat WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood now.
Wood responded and instead offered to dance with Floyd, first, but Wood also has an exciting date with two-time champion Josh Warrington ahead of him next weekend.
Recently, Mayweather told FightHype: “Leigh Wood – I’ve got a 126-pounder Curmel Moton that would be a good match now… Our guy is 0-0; we’ll take the fight. I’ll put all the money up for both sides. My guy’s 17, he’s destined to be great. Remember I told you that. Listen, we take chances to be great. All I’m saying is this, that’s a good match-up.”
Of course, Mayweather’s claim was scoffed at by those who had not heard about Moton, but not by those who have heard now infamous tales of Moton giving top fighters great work in sparring as they have passed through Las Vegas.
“This kid is the next Gervonta Davis, or better,” stated Spadafora. “I’m looking at him thinking he will be a world champion within two years. He has an all-round game. He can box. He’s a great body puncher. Lots of power. And he has a great ring IQ. He will be a world champion for a long time.”
Theophane recalls seeing Moton as much as seven or eight years ago, around the time of his fight with Adrien Broner, and he saw Moton in the gym.
“I was seeing him from nine or 10-years old,” Theophane said. “Because I remember seeing this kid beat up these other kids thinking, ‘Who is he?’”
One of the Moton YouTube clips calls him an “amateur killer coming for world titles in pro boxing.”
He’s already got more than 260,000 followers on Instagram, where he refers to himself as Big Deal, but he is not the only one who thinks so.
“He had loads of amateur fights, so I don’t think building this man strength means much,” Theophane added. “You’ve got Devin Haney, Haney’s pretty much done it the same way that Curmel is coming up. He [Moton]’s been in the gym, he’s trained with all the coaches, with [Floyd Mayweather] Sr., a who’s who [of coaches], and he’s been around Floyd, and Floyd has always given him advice. I was in the gym in July [earlier this year] and Floyd was always speaking to him and the amateurs so Floyd has been giving him advice and Curmel has been around the gym for years, hence turning pro with Floyd.”
There was something about Moton that marked him out not just as one to watch, but someone who can do big things.
“I think from when I saw him as a little kid there are certain youngsters you see, and you automatically know they’re going to be a world champion,” Theophane continued. “Haney, I sparred with him and believed he could be a world champ. I saw Gervonta and believed he could be a world champ. You’ve got Teofimo [Lopez] and I sparred him and all these guys who I saw when they were 17-years-old or whatever, to me I already knew they had what it took, their manager or promoter just had to guide them the right way. Curmel is the same thing. His father is there. He's got a very good coach, he’s got Floyd there giving him gems [of information], so I think Curmel has all the tools to be a world champion.”
In the Mayweather Gym, Moton has access to an incredible brain trust of information, working with kids his age, seasoned pros, experienced coaches and former champions. More important than having access to that, however, is that Moton is learning and absorbing it.
“One thing I’ve seen about him I like, he listens to his coach so much,” Theophane went on of Moton, who was born in Salt Lake City. “When Floyd speaks, he listens, and he takes on the advice. I think same way you’ve got Bill Haney, Teofimo, Curmel’s father is very much involved and I feel with all of these young stars, because of their fathers being so hands on – because their kids are special – I feel because of their father’s involvement, some fighters have to be protected because sometimes fighters get used and abused and sometimes it’s good when there’s a father who’s been around the sport and he can touch base with so many experienced pros.”
Theophane said Curmel’s coach, Fareed Samad, was in amateur teams with Floyd, and like Spadafora, Theophane is also tipping Moton for the top.
“Whatever it is, three or four years he can be a world champion,” Theophane stated. “That’s why Floyd said he could beat Leigh Wood now, because he’s special.”
Mayweather himself told Fight Hype recently he had no idea who was going to be ‘the next Floyd Mayweather’ and then quickly added: “But I truly believe this could be the next Floyd Mayweather.”