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Cassius Chaney ready for his next boxing challenge

Cassius Chaney knows what it's like to get off the mat after being knocked down and then come back even stronger.

He's approached his latest bout of adversity during his boxing career with the same fighting spirit, tenacity and determination.

With his fight schedule temporarily put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chaney is using the extended break to polish his skills and prepare for his next challenge.

He's literally lived in the gym, setting up home in Miami in early April. He stayed away from the South Beach nightlife and stayed healthy. He was tested twice a week for COVID-19.

"I loved it," Chaney said. "There were only seven fighters. We basically just trained. Our rooms are right there. As soon as I opened my door to my room, I'm right up in front of the ring and the bags and everything.

"It's just a tough lifestyle in the sense that you're living in a small room with an extra large twin-size bed. But it's just part of the process of dedicating yourself. ... I didn't complain much but it wasn't easy. The gym is hot and the training is hard. Mainly just staying positive."

Chaney, a former Old Saybrook High School basketball standout, spoke about his career on Wednesday during a day off from training. He's in New York for now, working with another fighter for about three weeks. They're both preparing for bouts this month.

When Chaney, who checks in at 6-foot-6, roughly 240 pounds, enters the ring against a yet to be determined opponent later this month in Florida, it will be his first bout since late November when he floored Nick Jones in the third round to capture the WBC-USNBC Silver Heavyweight title. He improved 18-0, winning 12 by knockout.

Chaney, who's father named him after Cassius Clay, has remained motivated and hungry throughout the daily grind this summer despite the uncertainty until recently surrounding the date of his next fight.

"It was tough just not knowing," Chaney said. "Now I know that I'm most likely going to fight on the 28th. It's just a matter of finding the right opponent. I've been training and getting plenty of sparring. I'm just healing up and making sure I don't get any type of unnecessary injuries."

He trained for 74 days in Miami before heading north to New York where he's working out during the week and spending weekends in Connecticut. While he plans to return to Miami and make it his home base, he's been living off and on in New London.

He's worked on his strength and conditioning with Travis Lombardi, a trainer in Groton, and done workouts on the New London High School track.

"We'll do sprints, a little bit of jogging and some bear crawls," Chaney said. "I usually get a group of kids to go with me. Last time Travis brought his kids and we just all worked out together."

New London has meant a great deal to Chaney, who made his pro debut in 2015, and his boxing career.

He's developed lasting bonds in the community.

"I've made great positive relationships since I started boxing," said Chaney, who played basketball at the University of New Haven before switching sports. "I've gotten tremendous support. Susan Devlin and Barry Neistat help me. Starting with coach Kent Ward (owner of the Whaling City Athletic Club) in New London, that was monumental to me starting to box."

"New London has had a great impact. I went to Old Saybrook High School and I lived in New London. I got the best of both worlds."

Chaney, 33, has lofty goals.

He believes he's on the rise in his profession. His ultimate goal is to become a world champion and create a legacy.

He says he's focused, humble and hungry.

"I feel great," Chaney said. "I have so much to learn in this sport. I've only been boxing for eight years. That's not a long time. I'm just fortunate when I fought certain guys early in my career, I think I studied more than them and I was able to win those fights.

"That's the process of boxing. With some of those guys now, I'd probably knock them all out. I'm in a different element where I'm being trained. I do feel like I'm three or four fights away from really hitting that mainstream.

"I'm one of those guys with my personality, once I hit the mainstream, I'll be somebody that people would like to watch. I'm looking forward to it."

People in the boxing world are starting to take notice of Chaney.

Chaney gained attention for what transpired in his bout against Joel Caudle last summer in Maryland. His thunderous punch knocked down Caudle who fell head first out of the ring. Caudle did return to the ring but didn't last, with the referee ending the fight in the first round.

Video of that stunning moment went viral.

But that isn't the favorite fight of his career.

Chaney points to a 2017 bout against Jon Bolden at the Mohegan Sun. He won by decision but had to survive being knocked down.

"So much went into that," Chaney said. "I just overtrained and overworked myself. The simplest punch made me off-balance. My body was tired. I got up and figured out a way to win. That was a tough fight. He gives a lot of people problems.

"For me to be able to get off the canvas and win that fight, I thought that was very important to people that really didn't think I was serious about this, which is weird because I was winning national championships as an amateur. You have to show people that when the going gets tough, you're going to get up and fight. That's what I did."

And that's what Chaney plans to keep on doing.

g.keefe@theday.com

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