Some might see super middleweight Donte Layne’s third professional bout as a developmental fight for a promising prospect, but for him it’s a fight that spans three birthdays.

New York’s Layne, 27, will face Montrel James in a four-round fight on OTX8 on Friday in Atlanta.

Layne, an outstanding amateur, dreams of fighting at Madison Square Garden one day as a professional. But for now, he wants to put on a performance that lives up to his billing – from his mother, grandmother and himself. He aims to metaphorically blow out the candles in tribute to his family members with a knockout performance against James (2-10), a 32-year-old from St. Louis.

“We were supposed to fight on my birthday, May 31,” Layne said. “Something happened due to medicals, whatever he had going on – it didn’t happen. But now we are fighting on my late grandma’s birthday, God rest her, and the day after my mom’s birthday. So now, when I go out there, I’m really going to put on a performance because I know my grandma is watching. My mom’s going to be there and it’s her birthday, and she’s going to want to have something to celebrate even more.”

The southpaw Layne spent most of his amateur career familiar with the number one. He was ranked No. 1 in New York and No. 1 in the nation, and that fascination – some might call it an obsession – didn’t translate to pursuing an Olympic medal. 

“It was really just like a no-brainer,” Layne said about going professional. “I was the natural 165, reigning No. 1 in the country. Once they took that weight class out, I just knew pretty much back then, there was nothing else I could really do as an amateur. I could have gone up to 176, but that’s basically just starting over.”

With the Olympics no longer providing amateur opportunities at his optimum weight class, Layne opted for the pro ranks. So far, he hasn’t made it to the second round, as his first two fights ended in first-round knockouts. Yet Layne, from Elmont, Long Island, New York, recalled his two wins at Madison Square Garden as an amateur. He defeated Sharif One at MSG to become the 2023 RingMasters champion to win the 165-pound amateur title, after having defeated Melvin Martinez in 2022. One day, Layne hopes to walk those halls himself as a professional, recalling past glory.

“I fought at the Garden twice already as an amateur,” Layne said. “Even when I was at the Garden as an amateur, I had a lot of fans come out, a lot of support, family, friends. It was to the point where, after I fought, everybody cleared out. The arena was almost empty.”

As for this stage of his career, Layne believes big things are in store for his future.

“I feel I am just a step closer every fight to that title,” Layne said. “Even back when I was an amateur, I was always the dude to talk about when it came to the Metros. So I feel like, in a couple of years, I’ll get deemed the best New York fighter.”

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