From drive-by shooting victim to a GGG fight card in 9 months, Marcus McDaniel has ‘already won’

first_imgNEW YORK — Marcus McDaniel inched up on his toes to bring his 5-9 frame eye level to the 6-1 Ali Akhmedov during their faceoff at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday following the final fight press conference.The lighthearted gesture drew a grin out of Akhmedov and both fighters embraced before their super middleweight clash, which will be the co-main event to Gennadiy Golovkin vs. Steve Rolls at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” this weekend. McDaniel has plenty of reason to smile. He has not only been gifted a second wind at boxing, but in life, period.Join DAZN and watch GGG-Rolls: Sign up in the U.S. | Canada“I’m not supposed to be here,” McDaniel told Sporting News, his backdrop now GGG fielding questions from a large pool of reporters in the main lobby of MSG. “Look, I’m fighting at Madison Square Garden — I already won.”Exactly nine months prior to this faceoff with Akhmedov at MSG, the New Orleans native was on his way home — about a half-mile away — when a vehicle pulled up and started dumping bullets in his direction.“I was a victim of a drive-by shooting, shot at 15 times — hit twice in the back, grazed in the head,” said McDaniel, who’s originally from the infamous Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. “It was mistaken identity.”The 35-year-old father of six said the .45-caliber bullets fractured six of his ribs, punctured his lung, ripped through his collarbone and chipped his spine.“The doctor told me that I’d never be able to fight again,” he remembered.GGG VS. ROLLS: Read the latest news & features at SN’s fight HQBut McDaniel miraculously did fight again, roughly six months later, defeating veteran Bryan Vera by unanimous decision in February.“Nine months ago today, God was just with me,” a thankful McDaniel added.Now, sitting at 15-0 with two knockouts, McDaniel says defeating Akhmedov (14-0, 10 KOs) would push his career “through the roof.” Akhmedov fights under GGG Promotions and counts Golovkin, the former unified world middleweight champion, as a sparring partner. But whatever the 23-year-old Kazakhstani prospect hits him with Saturday night can’t compare to what McDaniel has already overcome just to be here and breathing.“What he’s going to put me through is nothing,” McDaniel says. “I face adversity every day. I don’t know him personally, but I know what I been through.”McDaniel has had to overcome obstacles long before the drive-by shooting incident, too. As a child, McDaniel and his siblings were raised by two parents addicted to drugs. When their addictions worsened, McDaniel and his siblings were adopted within the foster care system. McDaniel says he turned to the streets to make money as a youth and looked to boxing years later, with his first pro fight in 2009.Join DAZN and watch 100+ fight nights a year: Sign up in the U.S. | Canada McDaniel hasn’t looked back since. Surviving his shooting makes him view his boxing career and life with even more urgency.“God gave me a talent and I’m using it,” he says. “I want this to take care of my kids. I got six kids and I have to be there for them.”He adds: “I just gave it to God and look where God got me at — Madison Square Garden. Like I said, I already won. Coming where I come from, New Orleans, fighting in Madison Square Garden, come on, man … it’s life-changing.”last_img

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