On October 10, junior welterweight prospect Malik “Iceman” Hawkins (18-0, 11KO) will make his first in-ring appearance of 2020, when he squares off against Surbriel Matias at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. The fight will take place on the undercard of Sergey Lipinets interim welterweight title bout against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, which will be broadcast on Showtime.
Nearly 10 months after his most recent bout—a fifth round TKO over Darwin Price in December—Hawkins will be in against who he feels will be the biggest test of his professional career so far. “I’ve seen one of [Matias’] fights before, [when he fought] Maxim Dadashev, the fighter that unfortunately passed away,” Hawkins told ESBR.
Sadly, most boxing fans probably remember Matias (15-1, 15 KO) for his July 2019 fight against Dadashev, after which Dadashev died due to a brain injury he sustained after being stopped in the 10th round of that fight. But after what Hawkins has been through this year, being in the ring against a fighter whose wins have all come by knockout has been the least of his worries.
According to Hawkins, his mother was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year, and “almost died” from it. Luckily, his mother has overcome the virus and is well into recovery. “She’s recovering, she’s getting better everyday,” Hawkins said.
Now that Hawkins’ mother is in better health, the 24-year-old is focused on his return to the ring and could care less whether he’s fighting in front of people or not. “I don’t really care. To be honest, it’ll feel just like sparring, but the only difference is that it’s a real fight,” says Hawkins.
If victorious against Matias, Hawkins could most likely become a top contender for any of the sanctioning bodies at junior welterweight. Out of all the titleholders in that weight class though, Malik believes that WBC/WBO champion Jose Ramirez would be the most lucrative option to pursue. “The only one that I think would give me a test is Jose Ramirez. He gets in there, he thinks and he applies a lot of pressure. Basically the same thing I do.”
Standing 6 feet tall, Hawkins is a remarkably tall fighter for his weight class, so it’s only natural that the “Motor City Cobra” Thomas Hearns serves as one of his influences, among others. “[I liked to watch] Floyd Mayweather Jr., Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roy Jones Jr. and a little bit of Mike Tyson, because he had that killer instinct.”
Frequently picked on by other kids during his childhood in Baltimore, Maryland, Malik took to boxing when he was nine years old.
“I was getting bullied a lot in the neighborhood, things of that nature,” said Hawkins. “So my parents decided to put me in the [boxing] gym so I can defend myself. I didn’t really start taking boxing seriously until I was about 14 years old, when I won my first national championship.”
Along the way, Hawkins grew up with two-division world champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who hails from the same area of Baltimore Malik does. “We grew up together. We went to the same elementary, middle and high school, so we were always around each other. He’s taught me to take my time and be smart [in the ring].”
In July of 2019, Hawkins fought on the undercard of Gervonta Davis’ bout against Ricardo Nunez, which is where he caught the attention of Leonard Ellerbe and Mayweather Promotions. He was then signed by Mayweather Promotions that summer and made his debut in September, knocking out All Rivera in the opening round of the fight.
Now 2-0 under The Money Team banner, Hawkins has been pleased with how his career with the company has been playing out so far. “It’s been wonderful, they put me in the right fights. These fights will get me to bigger and better opportunities."