The advice Marqus Bates gave himself after losing his boxing debut in September could also apply to his young brother, a professional footballer aiming for championship glory this weekend in Houston.
“Be patient. Don’t rush,” said Bates, the Taunton, Mass., welterweight who returns to the ring Saturday at Twin River Casino. “If you just stick to the game plan, good things will happen and you’ll get to where you want to be.”
The lesson is an important one, and it applies both on the football field and in the boxing ring for the Bates family. Marqus Bates (0-1), who turns 31 in March, hopes to score his first win as a pro when he faces debut Aaron Muniz of Providence in a four-round bout on the undercard of CES Boxing’s 2017 season debut. His younger half-brother, Trevor Bates, a 23-year-old practice squad linebacker for the New England Patriots, won’t be at the fight to watch his brother in action because he’ll be in Houston for Super Bowl LI the following day on Sunday as his team plays for its fifth title.
“It’s going to be an awesome weekend,” the elder Bates said. “He called me and said, ‘Hey, bro, I can’t make it,’ and I’m like, ‘I know! You’re going to the Super Bowl! I don’t want you here anyway! Bring back that ring!’ It’s been an exciting year for both of us.”
Though he and his young brother talk to or text another almost every day — or “if not every day, then every other day,” Marqus says — they hadn’t seen much of one another this year because Trevor wound up in Indianapolis to start his rookie season, a seventh-round draft pick by the Colts. They promoted him to the active roster in October and he played in one game — mostly on special teams — before the Colts released him a week and a half later when injuries left them thin at other positions.
As if by fate, the Patriots came calling, offering the Westbrook, Maine, native and University of Maine standout a tryout before signing him to their practice squad in November.
“He called me one night at midnight and says, ‘Bro, you won’t believe it!’ At first, I thought something was wrong,” Bates recalled. “He told me, ‘I’m coming home!’ I lost it.”
Though they grew up eight years apart and only lived together in Taunton for two or three years before Trevor moved to Maine with his mother, the two have remained close through adulthood, and while Marqus is the older brother, he looks to Trevor for inspiration in the same way his younger brother looks up to him.
“He’s my motivation,” Marqus said. “Seeing my younger brother make it to that level and doing so well, it’s like, ‘Wow.’ It’s very big for me. It’s definitely part of my inspiration and motivation, especially for us to come up from what we went through.”
Marqus says he and his brother get their athleticism from their father, a former standout running back at Taunton High School who eventually received a scholarship to play football at Bowling Green before transferring to Southern Maine to play basketball.
In addition to football, Trevor played basketball and baseball in high school. He’s not on New England’s active roster, so he won’t play in Sunday’s Super Bowl against Atlanta, but his role as a practice squad player is vital to the team’s success. Practice squad players in the NFL are often tasked with emulating a particular individual on the opposing team to help the starters prepare for what they’ll see on game day.
Their work does not go unnoticed; Bates was one of six Patriots named as a practice player of the week following the team’s win over San Francisco and in December he received a raise from $6,900 per week to $18,000.
“He’s definitely putting in that work,” Marqus said. “I expect to see him on the active roster next year.
“He lives right in Foxboro, so he’s not too far from me. I like to make sure his mind’s right, make sure he’s on the right path and sticking to doing what he’s doing. He’ll get to where he wants to get to. He just needs to be patient.”
Marqus plans on taking his own advice Feb. 4th in his bout against Muniz. He debuted in September against Springfield, Mass., native Miguel Ortiz and came out firing, dropping Ortiz midway through the opening round, only to get knocked down himself later in the round. With Ortiz going in for the kill, referee Danny Schiavone stopped the bout with 17 seconds left in the round.
“I came out and established myself and took my time, and by me taking my time and doing what I know how to do, I was able to put him down early, but I got away from that when he got back up,” Bates admitted.
“I didn’t stick to the game plan. I wasn’t patient. That comes with experience. I should’ve just went back and said, ‘OK, I’m ahead on the cards. No need to rush,’ but I went in for the kill, went in with my hands down and got into a firefight.
“Regardless of the referee stopping the fight with 17 seconds remaining, I put myself in that position. It was my fault. This time around, I’ll be a lot more patient. I know I don’t need to rush.”
In addition to his head trainer, Brian Johnson, Bates also worked with New England legend “Sucra” Ray Oliveira, whose own son also fights on the undercard Saturday. The result of his first fight is something he’ll think about until the next bell rings this weekend.
“It’s a constant reminder. Since that fight, the next I was like, ‘I can’t have that.’ I knew exactly what I did wrong as soon as I left the ring,” Bates said. “I didn’t beat myself up. I let it build me. That one loss on my record is always going to be that constant reminder. I’ll never forget that. That’s my motivation for every single fight.”
With a new addition to his camp and a little extra motivation from his younger brother, who has a shot at earning a Super Bowl ring in his first NFL season, the last few months have been a whirlwind for Bates. This is shaping up to be a successful weekend for the entire family.
“To be on the card with all of these guys, it’s an honor,” Bates said. “I’ve got a two-headed monster right now, two great guys pushing me to my limit and wanting the best from me like I want from myself.”
Tickets for Feb. 4th are priced at $47.00, $102.00, $127.00 (VIP) and $152.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com or www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Reigning Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) Northeast and International Junior Middleweight Champion Khiary Gray (14-1, 11 KOs) of Worcester, Mass., defends both titles against Brooklyn’s Courtney Pennington (9-4-1, 5 KOs) in the eight-round headliner.
The Feb. 4th card features an additional title bout as New Haven, Conn., vet Josh Crespo (7-4-3, 3 KOs) faces unbeaten Timmy Ramos (4-0-1, 4 KOs) of Framingham, Mass., in a six-round bout for the vacant New England Super Featherweight Championship.
In a battle of unbeatens, Hartford, Conn., prospect Jose Rivera (2-0, 2 KOs) faces his toughest test to date in a six-round junior middleweight showdown against New Bedford, Mass., vet Ray Oliveira Jr. (6-0, 1 KO) and fellow undefeated prospects and decorated amateurs Jamaine Ortiz (2-0, 2 KOs) of Worcester, Mass., and Canton Miller (2-0, 1 KO) of Saint Louis, Mo., square off in a four-round lightweight battle.
Framingham’s Julio Perez (4-1) ends his nine-month layoff in a four-round intrastate showdown against Salem vet Matt Doherty (5-3-1, 3 KOs), who returns to Twin River for the first time since July of 2015. Following a busy 2016 in which he fought six times in seven months, Worcester’s Kendrick Ball Jr. (4-0-2, 3 KOs) faces Minneapolis’ Kenneth Glenn (3-2, 1 KO) in a four-round middleweight bout and Providence junior welterweight Anthony Marsella Jr. (3-0, 2 KOs) faces 16-fight veteran Francisco Medel in just his fourth fight as a professional in a four-round bout. Junior welterweight Khiry Todd (1-0, 1 KO) of Lynn, Mass., battles Woburn, Mass., native Bruno Dias (0-2) in a four-round bout.
The Feb. 4th card will also feature another special CES Ring of Honor ceremony inducting famed boxing trainer Kevin Rooney, who worked with world champions Mike Tyson and Paz in his storied career.