By: Sean Crose
“It’s a bad situation,” Jose Guzman says of the impact of Covid-19, “but it’s what you make of it.” Guzman, a former talented pro boxer with a highly impressive amateur resume, has spent Covid era continuing to build his reputation as a trainer of note. Not only is the trainer known for working with rising fighters like compelling prospect Dominique Crowder, he has also left his mark on mixed martial arts. For Guzman has trained explosive new phenomenon Michael Chandler, who burst onto the UFC scene this weekend with a first round knockout of Dan Hooker. Even though it was his UFC debut, Chandler’s fight was featured as the co-main of Conor McGregor’s brutal loss to Dustin Poirier.
“He has one punch knockout power,” Guzman says of Chandler, the UFC’s newest star. “It’s an honor even working with him.” Guzman is grounded in boxing, but he has nothing but praise for mixed martial artists. “These guys are easier to work with,” he says, “than fighters (boxers).” Although he’s clearly impressed with the seriousness – and politeness – of mixed martial artists, Guzman is still a boxing man through and through. And he’s particularly focused on 7-0 bantamweight Crowder, who headlines a Saturday card in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, taking on fellow undefeated prospect Marvin Sims.
“Literally the best camp we ever had,” Guzman says of the lead up to this weekend. “If the fight was today, I’d have no problem.” Now, of course, it’s all up to Crowder to keep winning, something he has so far done with ease. “The hard work is done,” says Guzman, “we’re just looking for bigger and bigger fights.” Guzman is clearly high on the 7-0 super bantamweight, and with good reason, for 6 of those 7 wins have come by knockout. “This is the year,” Guzman says of Crowder. “Every time he touches you, he puts you to sleep.”
Yet Guzman also indicates that the 27 year old KO artist can do more than simply punch. “In the amateurs,” he tells me, “Dominique was a pure boxer.” To Guzman, Crowder is reminiscent of a young Mark Breland, which is a nice comparison, since Breland also helps train Crowder. “He also eats a lot,” Guzman says of the famously thin former champion, “every time we sit down.”
Guzman may joke of Breland’s appetite, but he finds Breland’s treatment at the hands of former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, the man Breland helped train, entirely distasteful. After losing to Tyson Fury last winter, Wilder came up with a variety of excuses, one of which was blaming Breland, who had thrown in the towel when it was clear Wilder was taking serious damage in the fight. “He knows he did the right thing,” Guzman says of Breland. “He saved Wilder’s life.”