Journeyman boxer Eric “Juggernaut” Draper got into the fight game late but is rapidly moving up the ladder.
The Smyrna resident has won his last five professional fights and will look to make it six when he fights for the AFB United States title on Aug. 22 in Rainsville, Alabama, at the DeKalb County Coliseum.
"I'm 13-10-1 now and kind of moving up the rankings," Draper said. "It's a little title but it will move you in position to fight for something better. That's where the money is at. Sometimes you have to fight for the little ones to fight for the bigger fight. I guess you call them résumé builders."
Draper got into the fight game late and is now 43-years-old.
"I went to the Army and did five years and got out and went and worked for the Veterans Affairs Hospital," he said. "That's where they go to get their treatment. I was a police officer at the VA.
"I'm 43 now and when I got into the game it was a little late for a boxer. Most retire when they get to 36- or 37-years-old. I won Golden Gloves in Indianapolis in 2009 and went to the U.S. Nationals. I did pretty well. I'm not going to the Olympics or anything, but I've won a couple of titles at 154. As I got older I moved up to 160. I just want to keep going until I can't go anymore."
Draper's full-time job is in the ring, not out of it.
"This is my full-time thing. I train from the time I wake up and probably train six hours a day," he said. "I still live and train in Smyrna. I won my last five fights and only had one decision. My last four I won by knockout. We're going to see if the sixth fight can be by knockout."
Draper was scheduled to fight for the title on Aug. 15 against Blake Franklin of Shreveport, Louisiana, but it was canceled. He will now fight Phillip Lars at the "Rumble in Rainsville."
While admitting he is a journeyman fighter, Draper says he will keep living the dream as long as possible.
"Being a journeyman fighter you're not really a prospect," he said. "When you're a journeyman fighter you're record is going to fluctuate. We don't get a lot of credit. I've fought four or five guys that have fought for world titles. Floyd Mayweather said one of his toughest fights was against a journeyman.
"You have to stay ready, stay in training because you could get a one- or two-week notice. If you've already been in the gym and get the opportunity, it might be a world title or another big opportunity."
And at this stage of the game, that's all Draper wants -- an opportunity.