CATSKILL — The way Catskill boxer Fei Faiva’s professional career has started, it figured to be only a matter of time before the inevitable comparisons to former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson began.
Like Tyson, Faiva has launched her pro career at 18 years of age out of the Cus D’Amato Gym in Catskill, has mastered the same peek-a-boo style taught by D’Amato and has mowed down her opponents in astonishingly quick fashion.
Faiva and her team, manager/advisor Kyle Lyles and co-trainers Darren Ruff and George Young, hope the similarities don’t stop there.
Tyson fought his first pro fight in March 1985 and 20 months later became the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history.
Faiva gave a very Tyson-like performance on Friday night, needing less than 20 seconds to stop Brittney Artis of North Carolina for her fourth victory without a loss and third knockout.
“We appreciate the comparison and there should be a comparison in the style because they’re fighting that same style,” Lyles said. “They both use the peek-a-boo style and she’s learned it from two really good trainers and she’s mastered it just like Mike did. Of course, if she didn’t have the power it would be a little different, but because she has the power you’re going to hear people compare them more and more.
“She’s already been labeled Lady Tyson on the circuit because of what she’s doing. It’s an honor for people to name you after one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, especially when you’re not even a champion yet. We accept it, we respect it, and we hope at some point in time we can tie the two together for public relations and marketing. We want to get Mike on board with us to help move her along. Once he does that, the sky becomes the limit.”
Friday’s fight ended much like Faiva’s last two had — within 30 seconds. Artis was clearly overmatched and had no answer for Faiva’s speed, movement and power.
“Fei stays ready. Physically and mentally she is super strong right now. She feels very confident in her abilities because she puts in the work. Like I’ve told her, ‘if you go in the ring and see an opening to finish, let’s get in there and get it down.’ She went right at it. The style is aggressive with a lot of movement and off of the movement a lot of punching. She immediately went across the ring and throws a jab and right after that, after the girl threw a punch or two, then right off of that we saw the movement and she threw her punches and her punches are thrown with bad intentions and when they connect with her power, that’s usually going to be the end result right there.”
Faiva dropped Artis 12 seconds into the bout and the referee immediately called an end to it. Artis remained on the canvas for a few minutes before she was helped onto a stool.
“No matter what happens at the end of the day you want everyone to be healthy and be OK,” Lyles said. “It’s the hurt business, but you want your opponent to be fine. After the fight I had the opportunity to go over and talk to the young lady and she said she was good. That was a blessing.”
Lyles feels Faiva will only get better as she continues to move up the ladder and is especially impressed with her maturity level at such a young age.
“It’s a pleasure to see her transition from a girl to a young lady,” Lyles said. “ We talk about being respectful, being humble and being confident at the same time. Her confidence is building right now because she’s worked so hard to stay in tip-top shape and worked so hard on her skill that when she goes in there and performs like that, it builds her confidence, and that’s the reason why we’re moving her along slowly, to build her confidence.
“With the style, there’s still so much more for her to learn. She’s probably about 80% of where she needs to be. So we still have another 20%, at least, to go. At this point, we look at video, then get back in the gym and with her trainers, keeps working on her head movement, keeps working on different combinations and her footwork. When you combine the three things, it’s like art. It looks really, really good. She’s moving and not getting hit. In her last three fights, I don’t think she’s been touched.”
Lyles has resisted the temptation to move Faiva’s career along at a quicker pace, but is confident she can compete with anyone right now.
“We’re OK with the naysayers because it’s not going to change our goals and how we want to move her. Lacking the experience in amateurs and being as young as she is, if anybody knows the fight business, your first fights are to build your confidence and get you used to being a pro and being in the ring in front of a crowd. Usually, your first five opponents might not be as good, but it doesn’t matter because we’re going to keep moving up in opposition.
“We’ll keep building her up so she maintains her confidence and she’s going to eventually be a champion. Our goal is to make her the baddest female on the planet. We’re not afraid of anyone right now. I’ve watched every champion fight and if we had to put Fei in the ring with them tomorrow, she would hold her own. Right now there’s no rush to do that. Most of them are in their 30s and Fei is 18.
“The difference I see in Fei than even the champions out there, and there’s no disrespect to them because they’re champions for the same reason that she’s going to be one — they put the work in — but she has much more power than them. So when you start to equal the skill level of those champions and add her power to it, she’s going to be successful.”
Faiva returns to the ring on Dec. 12 in Atlanta against Anyela Lopez in a scheduled four-round featherweight bout. The Bigg Time Promotions event will be live streamed on the BPE.Network App.
“After the next fight we’ll reassess where we’re at then we’ll start to move her against stronger opponents. After a year, which she’s probably on pace to go for a title a little sooner, but we’re not thinking that way because our goal is to get her to 10-0 in four round fights. Then after that we’ll move her to six rounders, where she’ll fight better opposition.
“We’ll get maybe five six-round fights in, if they even go six rounds, then we’ll go to eight-rounders. Once we get to the eight rounders, that’s when we’ll be in the mode of what champion do we have our eyes on that we want to fight for a title.”
Fans can follow Fei’s journey to the top on Facebook: Feifilimai Faiva, Instagram: @Feifaiva and Twitter: @FeiFaiva.