By Jim Berry

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Lightning fast hands that pack a mean punch – not something one would expect from a 6-foot, 120-something pound string bean. But this is just part of the impressive package from the boxer known as “Man Man.”

Marcel Ballatier was just 7 years old when he showed up at Ian Ford’s boxing gym in Miami.

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Right away, the trainer saw a lanky kid with a manly frame.

Before long, “Man Man” became an amateur champ and the top fighter in his weight class.

“For my age, people tell me that I’m an old soul,” Ballatier calmly said.

This 20-year-old doesn’t just fight like a man, he also talks like one. You can hear it when he speaks about realizing that the ring could be his ticket to a better life.

“I knew I could change lives – not only for myself but also change the lives of the people around me,” he said.

Ballatier, who grew up in Liberty City, also speaks about how he avoided following crowds that could have gotten him into trouble.

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“You ain’t got to be a rotten apple just because you might be around a batch of a few other rotten apples,” he said wisely.

As an up-and-coming pro, Ballatier has been on the road. This weekend, “Man Man” came home.

On a local fight card, family and friends get to see what his trainer believes is stardom in the making. At the Intercontinental, he scored an impressive early knockout.

Ford said that his young fighter reminds him of some other boxing greats like Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard and Pernell Whitaker.

It will be hard work to match those hall of fame names, but “Man Man” does not seem to mind.

Ballatier intends to put himself on the boxing map, and take his hometown along for the ride.

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“I just want to be known. And when people hear my name, I want them to associate it with Miami,” he said.

Jim Berry