Modern-day road warrior Marcus “Arillius” Upshaw (17-13-4, 8 KOs) is still chasing his boxing dream. The next installment of his unusual story is this Sunday against hometown favorite Lanell “KO” Bellows (17-1-1, 7 KOs) at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“I’m chasing the dream but, at the same time, the dream is chasing me,” Upshaw said. “My mind is finally right and now I have a great trainer (Orlando Cuellar) who has my back. It just wasn’t my time before but this is it. I’ve fought all over but this is my first time fighting in Las Vegas. It’s about time! I’ve always wanted to fight in Vegas. I’m going to be fighting in front of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and coming away with a victory.”
A native Floridian who was born in Jacksonville and trains in Miami, the 34-year-old Upshaw is 2-1-2 in his last five bouts. In his last 11 fights, Upshaw has fought twice in Mexico, Washington D.C., Minnesota and the Dominican Republic, as well as once in Texas, Canada, and Connecticut. In almost every case he fought either a hometown fighter and/or a boxer handled by the show’s promoter.
During the course of his nine-year professional career, he’s also fought in Mississippi, Illinois, California, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, South Carolina and North Carolina. Only 11 of his 34 fights have been in Florida, the majority of those during the early part of his career. If draws and split and/or close decision losses in opponents’ backyards are generally considered “wins” in boxing, Upshaw’s record could very well be a much different 25-5.
It’s surprising that his first in Las Vegas will be this Sunday, against an opponent who is promoted by Mayweather Promotions, which is co-promoting the Premier Boxing Champions on CBS card with TBG Promotions, and advised by powerful Al Haymon whose company, Haymon Boxing, presents the PBC series.
In addition to the aforementioned stacked deck against him, Upshaw is a natural middleweight who, once again, will be fighting a super middleweight. “I don’t care about that stuff as long as the fight makes sense,” Upshaw explained. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken it. I’m a middleweight who has fought a few times at 168 pounds and did well against Aaron Pryor Jr. (controversial 8-round draw), Vladine Biosse (WTKO8) and Durrell Richardson (WDEC6). I will be the toughest opponent Bellows has ever faced. He lost to an 8-9-2 guy and had a draw with an opponent who had a 5-6-1 record. He’s never fought anybody close to the caliber of fighters I’ve been in with. I’m a middleweight and even though he fights in a higher weight class, I’ll be the stronger, better fighter. Pressure, pressure, pressure is the game plan for this fight. I’m not going to let the judges rob me again. This is an awesome opportunity for me, plus, I’m fighting in Las Vegas for the first time!”
Upshaw’s signature win, thus far, was in 2010 when he traveled to Quebec City and upset 21-1-1 local hero Renan St. Juste by way of a 10-round decision, elevating Marcus in world middleweight rankings to IBF #6, WBO #9 and WBC #11.
Upshaw has displayed his potential, talents and guts by going the complete distance in rounds, albeit in losses, with the likes of Mario Antonio Rubio, David Lemieux, Gilberto Ramirez Sanchez, Edwin Rodriguez, Patrick Majewski and Tarvis Simms.
“Marcus has a very deceiving record,” noted Cuellar who will be in Upshaw’s corner for only the second fight. “His record is better than it looks on paper. Check some of the guys he’s been the distance or fought draws with. His opponent is untested but that doesn’t mean he won’t come through. Sometimes fighters are protected by their handlers but step up in fights against better competition. Fighters are sometimes like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’re going to get until you open it and take a bite.
“Marcus is like a cat up against the wall. His opponent doesn’t know what he’s really capable of doing in the ring. Marcus is ready to flip the script, turn the table on this hometown guy. I told him that this guy is in his way of making good money, so it’s time for him to take control and be the boss. Marcos should win this fight inside the ropes but, because he’s fighting the hometown favorite on his promoter’s show, Marcus needs to take out the judges with a knockout, or very convincing performance so that they can’t take a win away from him.”
Upshaw has always had, standing 6′ 4″, a size advantage to go with his rich athletic bloodlines; his uncle, the late Gene Upshaw, was an NFL Hall of Fame offensive guard for the Oakland Raiders. Now, it’s time for him to go all in and cash out big-time in his first Las Vegas fight, registering a career-defining triumph to set him up for a major showdown in the not too distant future.
Follow Marcus on Twitter @MarcusUpshaw or @MarcusArilliusUpshaw