Absent Friends: After Splitting with Daniel Jacobs, Andre Rozier Moves On

Boxing trainer Andre Rozier speaks during a news conference at New York's Madison Square Garden, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

It may not have the clout of Freddie Roach’s Wild Card in Los Angeles or the old-world grandeur of Gleason’s just a few miles away, but trainer Andre Rozier is confident that, in time, his exposed-brick basement gym, tucked away on a busy street in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, will become a destination for serious prizefighters. He calls it the “House of Pain,” a name derived from the days he used to run an intense boxing program in Coney Island. The location has changed, but not the mindset.

“The ‘House of Pain’ will become a new icon in New York when it comes to boxing,” Rozier told Hannibal Boxing in an interview during a recent club show in Manhattan.

In a city that seems to boast more boxing gyms of the “boutique” variety—think marble floors, central AC, campy aesthetics, and $840 dues—than ones that cater to hardened prizefighters, Rozier is reminded continually of the poverty of boxing culture in New York City. After keeping his circle of clients small for many years, Rozier decided to ramp up his workload, with an eye toward establishing his own version of Emmanuel Steward’s Kronk Gym. But first he needed his own space.

“David Ali, Sadam Ali’s father, built us the facility,” Rozier said. “In that small little space, we have collectively recreated New York boxing as it once was, and we will continue to do that. We will be known as one of the hottest gyms in the United States. And soon, in the world.”

The fighters aren’t the only ones who dream in this sport. Rozier started out as a DJ before he began sewing fight trunks for local amateurs, like Monte Barrett. It snowballed from there.

Now he has as full-blown stable of fighters that ranks among the best on the east coast. It’s a wide mix that includes talented prospects, like the heavy-hitting Edgar Berlanga and Duke Micah; experienced contenders, like Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Chris Algieri; and Richard Commey, the Ghanian lightweight who recently lost his IBF belt to Teofimo Lopez. Marcus Browne, Marco Huck, and Tureano Johnson also work with Rozier and his team—the “Havoc” team, which consists of assistant trainer Gary Stark, Terence Simpson, Lenny Wilson, and former middleweight Curtis Stevens.

In a further sign of his commitment to helping fighters, Rozier recently announced the start of a new managerial endeavor called Havoc Management and Advisory Inc. Former lightweight titleholder Mickey Bey and junior-middleweight Kemahl Russel were the first to come on board.

“We have new athletes coming in all the time,” Rozier said. “This is how we keep the brand and the product growing.”

A quick scan of Rozier’s lineup, however, reveals a conspicuous absence: Daniel Jacobs, the former middleweight titleholder whom Rozier first trained as a fourteen-year-old. The two sides split up recently after Jacobs’s fight loss against Saul Alvarez in May. It was an acrimonious break-up. According to Thomas Hauser, the relationship broke down over money. Rozier acknowledged that this was the case, but that it was more than just a monetary disagreement.

“My issue with Danny was . . . the disrespect factor,” Rozier said. “The second thing was that he just treated me like a common, off-the-street second. I’ve been with Danny since he was a teenager. This was the biggest fight of our lives, and we were all supposed to revel in the glory of it but when it came down to the nuts and bolts he not only didn’t speak to me, but he went on to pay me less than one percent of the net purse which was the hugest slap in the face ever.

Rozier said he received a check in the mail for $100,000, when he was originally due for five percent of a purse that was reported to be as high as a $15 million.

“He sent it to me without an explanation,” Rozier said. “Besides the fact that he treated me like I was nowhere near family to him, it’s the biggest slap that anybody could ever give a trainer.

“So I just said, ‘I can’t, I can’t.’”

Asked if he found his own situation to mirror that of trainer Abel Sanchez and his fallout with Gennadiy Golovkin after Golovkin signed a reported $100 million deal with DAZN, Rozier shook his head.

“Completely different,” Rozier said. “‘Triple G’ sat down with Abel and said, ‘I’m getting this much, and I want to give you this and do you have a problem with this,’ and Abel said, ‘Yes, I do, so we can’t work together.’

“There was no sit-down between me and Danny. If I had any inkling that he was gonna pull a fast one like that, I wouldn’t have worked the camp. I would have told him, it’s time for us to separate.”

According to a source with knowledge of their break-up, Jacobs was frustrated that Rozier would disappear for a day or two during training camp for the Alvarez fight to corner one of his other fighters’ bouts. To compound matters, Rozier also missed the group flight to Las Vegas for fight week.

“I know when we left for the press tour, we had a wonderful time,” Rozier said. “I mean a real wonderful time. When we got on solid ground to prepare in camp, everything changed. Everything. Needless to say, he might make assumptions.”

As a point of comparison, Rozier says he was treated much better by his Ukrainian charge, Derevyanchenko, who has seen his profile shoot up after dropping a heated decision to Golovkin in October. Derevyanchenko reportedly received a hefty $5.2 million purse.

“My wonderful Sergiy Derevyanchenko made far less than Danny, and he compensated me like family would if you have a moment of that magnitude,” Rozier said. “With that being said, it was the ultimate disrespect (from Jacobs). No rhyme or reason. And for me, that’s a killing point.”

And yet as Rozier plows forward with his current stable, he is reminded here and there of his old charge. One instance is Alvarez’s recent destruction of light-heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev.

“I was very impressed with Canelo, which is another reason why I was so upset with Danny because Danny could’ve beaten Canelo,” said Rozier, who implored Jacobs to pick up the pace between rounds. Jacobs started the fight off slowly, but he made it competitive in the second half. It wasn’t enough, and far too late, as the judges awarded Alvarez a clear decision. Rozier questioned Jacobs’s attitude.

“In this game, you have to work hard and dig in, and those are some of the things that we didn’t do,” Rozier said. “If Danny was supposed to work as hard as he was supposed to do so, he would have beat Canelo.”

Rozier doesn’t buy the excuse that Jacobs was weight-drained for the Alvarez fight. Jacobs’s next bout, however, will take place at 168 pounds. Rozier suspects, however, that Jacobs’s guaranteed sky-high payday may have contributed to his lack of urgency throughout the fight.

“He’s moving up (in weight), but it was more of a lack of dedication,” Rozier said. “I don’t know if it was the fact that the money was there, and he just got caught up in the moment of it. He needed a change and all these other things.”

Which is why Rozier remains in a way satisfied by Derevyanchenko’s title-losing performance against Golovkin. Derevyanchenko left everything in the ring.

“Sergiy brought my vision of Triple G’s defeat into the realm of reality,” Rozier said. “I thought we won, a lot of people did. Of course, we didn’t get the nod. At that point, I didn’t care. I knew he won. He did what we worked on. And he is a badass fighter.”

And that is all Rozier can ask for in his fighters. For a moment, he has forgotten all about Jacobs.

About Sean Nam 30 Articles
Sean Nam has written for The Cruelest Sport, Undisputed Champion Network, and The Sweet Science. His non-boxing writing has appeared in New Rambler Review, Slant Magazine, Atlas Obscura, Rain Taxi, Mubi Notebook, The Brooklyn Rail, and Cineaste. In 2017, he curated the Boxing on Film series for the Anthology Film Archives in New York City. He is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.