When super middleweight Derrick “Take It to the Bank” Webster (28-3, 14 KOs) left the ring in Atlantic City after a decision loss to Gabriel Pham in March 2020, the Glassboro native thought he had likely stepped between the ropes for a final time. Webster, who had debuted professionally in 2009, had accomplished many things during his career and was ready to put a bow on it. In the week that followed his bout with Pham, a global pandemic began to spread throughout the world, and that only seemed to further solidify his decision.
However, the people around Webster made him realize that he still had some unfinished business in the boxing ring. In recent months, they helped him find a refreshed outlook on the sport, and he now sees it with a completely different perspective than he had before. On Saturday night, Webster will once again step through those ropes so he can write the next chapter on a boxing career that has yet to reach its final destination.
“It was actually my family who willed me back to boxing,” Webster said of what led him back to the ring. “After my last fight, the pandemic happened, and I guess I was trying to put it in my mind that I was done with boxing. But I was still showing actions that I wanted to keep on going. Once my family made me realize I still loved the sport, it made me look at everything with a new perspective. Now, I just want my second half to be totally different from what I did with my first 15-plus years in the sport. Before, I was beating people off pure talent, but I feel like my game has evolved so much more beyond that now.”
Webster officially ends his more than 21-month layoff on Saturday night when he faces 38-bout veteran Angel Hernandez at the McBride Hall in Gary, Indiana. With his newfound outlook on boxing, he feels that people will see a different version of him when that opening bell rings.
“Being six-foot-four, I will continue to use my height to my advantage while fighting at range, but my inside game has been turned up tremendously. My body attack is a lot different now,” he stated. “I just feel so much more focused. When I get in the ring now, I am not allowing myself to worry about anything other than putting my opponent away. My punches have been coming together so much better, and we have also worked extensively on applying more pressure.”
Webster recounted his experiences in basketball as a parallel for what helped him undergo this recent transformation. After starring on the court at Glassboro High School, he continued playing basketball at Salem County Community College in New Jersey, where he started to receive looks from Division 1 schools such as Maryland. However, Webster lost interest in pursuing basketball any further following the tragic passing of his father.
“Things tend to click for me a little bit later. That was the case for me with basketball. I didn’t really start to excel in basketball until I got to college,” he recounted. “When I came into boxing, it was just something I did. I was never someone who needed boxing. So many fighters turn to boxing because they see it as the only way to overcome the struggles they are facing in life. For me, boxing came pretty naturally, but I only recently started to feel like I am tapping into who I am truly am as a fighter.”
Webster credits his time away from the ring as being a key factor in helping him discover this new version of himself.
“Now that I had a chance to sit down and reflect on what I have been able to accomplish in boxing, I have started to realize how much more I am capable of giving to this sport,” he explained. “Before, there were days where I went to training just because I had to go to training. Now, I am going to training every day because I want to be there. Everything is different for me now. It is like a whole new switch was turned on.”
As for Saturday night, what can fight fans expect to see from Derrick Webster 2.0?
“A good show. You can expect a good show,” he confirmed. “I may have changed things up a bit, but I am still the Bank. And you know what that means. I am definitely looking to get the knockout tonight. I am going to use this fight to brush off the ring rust, and then I am coming back for anything I may have lost before. I want it all back.”