By Johnny Walker
Boxing Insider sat down this week for a wide-ranging telephone interview with one of our favorite heavyweights, WBO Asia Pacific and Oriental heavyweight champion Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett. On August 13, 2011, in New Zealand, Barrett won a unanimous decision over his rival, David “Tuamanator” Tua, in a thrilling rematch of their disputed draw from the previous year in Atlantic City, and he is now plotting his next move.
Always thoughtful and eloquent, Barrett, 40, had a lot on his mind when we spoke, and one thing that was foremost in his thoughts was trainer Teddy Atlas’s apparent decision to match up his newly crowned WBA “regular” heavyweight champion, Alexander Povetkin, with Evander Holyfield, rather than with the heavyweight who has in reality beaten a much tougher opponent than any Holyfield has faced of late (that being David Tua), not once, but (in the view of most observers) twice.
With Povetkin set to face Holyfield and then maybe Hasim Rahman, and with The Ring magazine recognized world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko looking to fight heavyweight never-was Jean-Marc Mormeck, we can’t blame Monte for feeling a little overlooked. And Barrett has some choice words for David Haye as well.
Boxinginsider.com: Hey champ, how’s it going? What’s on your mind today?
Monte Barrett: Johnny, there are a couple of things I wanted to go on the record about. I’m pretty surprised about Teddy Atlas taking a fight with Holyfield.
Boxinginsider.com: OK, what’s your take on that, anyway?
Monte Barrett: As much as Teddy Atlas commentates on ESPN and calls, you know, mismatch fights and criticizes people, he should be ashamed to take a fight like Holyfield, when Povetkin and I, we’ve boxed about 40-50 rounds, and I won the majority of the rounds. If Povetkin can’t beat a 40-year-old guy like me, who’s more competitive and in better condition and in a better place than Holyfield, then he shouldn’t be champion. But Teddy seems like a big hypocrite, going for the old man … Holyfield’s almost 50 years old.
Boxinginsider.com: Teddy does seem guilty of doing what he was previously criticizing other people for doing, now that he’s in the position of being a “champion’s” trainer.
Monte Barrett: Yeah, I definitely want to go on the record about this, they are definitely going the route of getting two easy fights. Hasim Rahman’s the mandatory, I don’t know how that’s happening, but it is what it is, but for them to take Holyfield and then Rahman? You know, one fight with me versus both of those, you know, if Povetkin can beat me, I think he is in way better shape for fighting a Klitschko. And if I beat him, then I should fight Klitschko. That’s how I look at it.
Boxinginsider.com: I think you’d have a very good chance of beating Povetkin.
Monte Barrett: I think so too. I think that where I am now, more disciplined, in a better place in my life– you know, when I was young I was just stupid and dumb and running around thinking I was King Kong! [laughter]
Boxinginsider.com: Rings a bell … that happens to a lot of people!
Monte Barrett: Definitely, definitely. When you’re older you slow down a bit, but you also get wiser.
Boxinginsider.com: If you look at it, your last three fights, you’ve beaten David Tua twice, really, and for the other one (a majority draw with Charles Davis), you were sick.
Monte Barrett: Yeah, the Charles Davis fight, I knew I was sick, and as a fighter, I overestimated myself, figuring, he’s a club fighter, I’ll get him out of there. But you can’t go in the ring if you’re not 100 percent. I was going through the motions. I was out of it. But I think the Davis fight worked for me, I had such a horrible performance. They [the Tua camp] thought in the rematch, “he’ll get knocked out” [laughter].
Boxinginsider.com: Did you feel vindicated in the Tua rematch, after the way the first bout ended [Barrett gave Tua his first ever taste of the canvas, and was thought by most to have won the fight]?
Monte Barrett: I didn’t feel vindicated for the fight, but vindicated for my life. My life has been an up and down roller coaster, and it felt like to me, it was coming to … just that it paid off. Getting over the complications, everyday life, and then you know, no boxer goes into the ring 100 percent all the time, you have little aggravating injuries you have to deal with, but you know, you persevere through that. So I felt vindicated, like everything’s coming full circle with me.
Boxinginsider.com: True, it did look that way. Like, I’ve seen some fights where, if you had been in the place you were at when you fought Tua, you could have won, like the fight with David Haye.
Monte Barrett: For David Haye, I was so emotional. I was in good shape [physically], but emotionally I wasn’t there. On top of that, if you look at the fight, David Haye was fighting dirty the whole fight. And the referee –he wanted [Haye] to win, I understand—the referee [Richard James Davies] was a piece of crap. Every time David Haye hit me on the back, hit me on the break, he was able to do whatever he wanted, when he wanted. And the first time I did it to him, when I dropped him, when I get the power on my punches, I get a point taken away.
Boxinginsider.com: Very true.
Monte Barrett: So it was the draw of the straw. But the way I am right now, I would demolish David Haye. And not just because of the Tua fight, I just think the space I’m in, anybody I fight at this point in time, I’m going to do great against.
Boxinginsider.com: I’m with you on that. I would like to see you get some good fights now. You’ve earned them.
Monte Barrett: I would like to get one or two more good fights. That’s why I was looking to fight Povetkin, because I thought Teddy, being the stand-up man that he was, would say, “Ok, you know what? Holyfield or Barrett? Let’s go for the younger older [laughs].” The younger of the oldest, because we both still old, right? This is a fight [Povetkin] can get up for. So I definitely would like you to bring up that point. He’s a hypocrite–Teddy Atlas is a hypocrite when it comes to his fighters. He doesn’t preach what he teach.
Boxinginsider.com: Teddy has said some pretty crazy things on Friday Night Fights lately, like when he said some anonymous middleweight fighters could put on weight and move up and beat Wladimir Klitschko.
Monte Barrett: Yeah, you’re right. Some of the comments he made are so ridiculous. But you know what? I’m thinking that Johnny, maybe, knowing that me and Povetkin—who is a very, very nice guy, I like him a lot, he has a lot of talent—but knowing that after 40 rounds I was up 30-10 on Povetkin, maybe that’s another reason why he said, “I don’t want to take Monte just yet. Let’s go with a safer opponent.”
Boxinginsider.com: Would you ever consider another fight with Tua? Trilogies are a big thing in boxing – think Gatti-Ward—people love them.
Monte Barrett: It’s a possibility. I don’t have to. It would have to benefit me more than anyone.
Boxinginsider.com: I think a lot of people would like to see it, because frankly, the first two fights were highly entertaining heavyweight bouts, great fights to watch.
Monte Barrett: Boxing is hurting as a whole. The heavyweight division is hurting. Those two fights I had [with Tua], those could have been on HBO After Dark. HBO misses out on these jewels, because they only go for big names or guys with inflated records.
Boxinginsider.com: Or for guys like Bermane Stiverne, who didn’t set the world on fire against Ray Austin.
Monte Barrett: Exactly. That’s the question to ask your audience. Do you think the Barrett – Tua trilogy, the last fight, should be on Showtime or HBO?
Boxinginsider.com: It’s got my vote, and I can’t see why any fan of heavyweight boxing would be against it.
Monte Barrett: Tua, through the whole [rematch] I dominated for nine rounds, but the last half of the fight, for all my accomplishments throughout the fight, people said, “How the hell did you get up from that shot?” [Tua knocked Barrett to the canvas in round twelve].
Boxinginsider.com: That was a helluva shot he hit you with there.
Monte Barrett: I was going down and he pivoted with that right hand and broke my jaw.
Boxinginsider.com: On the way down….
Monte Barrett: Yeah. And I fell out of the ring. I pulled my thoughts together and made the count. And you know, he’s a big finisher. Not only is he a big puncher, he’s a big finisher. But I got up, and I weathered the storm. And a lot of these guys in the Top 20, they would have laid down, and that would have been an excuse to quit.
Boxinginsider.com: I was amazed at your willpower. You refused to lose.
Monte Barrett: My willpower wasn’t really in the fight, it was embedded before the fight. It was getting up at 3 in the morning running because I thought Tua was going at 5. It was boxing 120 rounds because I thought Tua did 70. It was running 4 miles every other day, because I thought Tua was doing 3 miles. Whatever he was doing, I wanted to do it better.
Boxinginsider.com: And you gave up sex, too, I remember reading.
Monte Barrett: I gave up sex, too, and that was the only the second time I did that in my whole career. The Dominick Guinn fight [a split decision win for Barrett] and this fight.
Boxinginsider.com: I’ll bet Tua didn’t do that, either [laughter].
Monte Barrett: Of course, right!
(Tune in monday for Part Two of Boxing Insider’s conversation with Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett, where he discusses the heavyweight champion Klitschko brothers, the future of the heavyweight division, his possible move to the WWE, and how his faith helps him in and out of the ring).