A Gregorian chant played when pro boxer Dillon Hayman entered the room. The monophonic liturgical music carries with it undertones of creepiness. It's music that can sometimes invoke other-worldly emotions.
His opponent, Mike Arnold, walked in to rap, according to Hayman's coach Jason Boyer.
As Hayman, an 18-year-old senior at Clarksburg High School, marched toward the ring, his attire became visible: a full-length black cloak, akin to the shape and fluidity of what the Death Eaters wear in the Harry Potter movies.
In his first professional fight May 12 at the D.C. Convention Center, Hayman kicked it old school. Tenth-century old school, to be specific.
And in a matter of 2 minutes, 3 seconds, the appropriately nicknamed “Stalker” had his first win as a professional — a total knockout with a strong right to Arnold's jaw.
“I bet his opponent thought, 'What the hell am I getting myself into?'” said Boyer, owner of Frederick Fight Club, recalling the scene of the bout. “Dillon's different for boxing. I guess he's going for different.”
Indeed. The blonde-haired aspiring entrepreneur and musician is also one of Montgomery County's younger professional athletes and a remarkable fighter.
Initially a kickboxer who practiced jujitsu and lethwei, those fighting techniques remain a major element of Hayman's style. Upon meeting a then-15-year-old Hayman, Boyer initially thought Hayman “couldn't throw a punch.” But he quickly began working with the teenager.
“I think it's cool because when I box, I take a kickboxing style with me into the ring,” Hayman said. “Having a high guard is a big part of it. You have shin bones, knees, elbows, head butts all coming at you in kickboxing, so you can't afford to have your hands down or else you're going to get hit.
“It's a tough-man style. A lot of the mindset is being able to take that punishment and not be bothered by it. I'll be getting punched on the arms or the guard. People will think I'm getting hurt by it, but I'm really not.”
Hence the nickname.
“He gets in there and slowly walks at people,” Boyer said. “He doesn't bounce around like a normal boxer. He tries to break through and tries to hurt people.”
The 5-foot-11, 160-pounder's style is far from traditional. In fact, Hayman said he probably looks “terrible” to a boxing purist. But being a suburban honor roll student and musician with an academic scholarship to Hood College who has battled asthma and eczema in the past isn't exactly mainstream for boxing either.
He said the asthma hasn't bothered him in a while and mostly is related to allergens, not aerobic activity. The eczema produces large rashes on his skin and results in discomfort. He has to shower frequently.
“My skin reacts with just about anything that I come into contact with,” Hayman said. “It's just something else to put a barrier in front of you. I have to push through it.”
The biggest reason Hayman decided to exit the amateur ranks once he turned 18 was because he felt the fighting style didn't suit him. He didn't like the big gloves or the headgear. He wasn't in favor of the scoring system. Despite those aversions, Hayman won a Golden Gloves junior division title in February 2011.
“It felt very right,” Hayman said of the decision to turn pro. “The amateurs were not suited for this whole style. Being a stalker, I take a little long to get to my opponent. You can stay an amateur as long as you want, but you might come out fighting like an amateur.”
Hayman, who plays guitar, piano and some electric bass, has more than 6,000 songs in his music collection and is influenced by “everything but mainstream music you hear on the radio.” His genres of interest range from blues to hard metal to folk to classical to reggae.
What, then, does he listen to when he's working out three hours a day for six days a week?
“I won't listen to music when I'm training,” he said. “You get conditioned to need music to train and there's not going to be music on when I'm the ring. I try to discipline myself to work out without music.”
The well-spoken Hayman plans to study business and entrepreneurship at Hood, while continuing to fight professionally. His next bout is scheduled to take place July 14, giving him a little wiggle room beforehand to enjoy Beach Week, graduation and being a senior.
“I'll get to be a kid for a little bit and then I'll go back to being a professional athlete,” Hayman said. “Like anything in my life, I'm looking for memories and things to learn from. Experiences. And hopefully, in boxing, experiences that other people never have.
“When I'm 50 or 60, I want to look back and go, “I know that I did it.'”