By Johnny Walker
In part two of Boxing Insider’s interview with Monte Barrett, the veteran heavyweight who recently beat David Tua in Tua’s own back yard in New Zealand discusses the current state of the heavyweight division (including Vitali-Adamek and Wlad-Mormeck); James “Lights Out Toney,” who he says he would never fight; age and sports evolution; the problem (or not) with good friends fighting each other; and why he deserves another title shot. Enjoy!
BOXING INSIDER: When you watched Vitali fight Tomasz Adamek, he looked pretty damned dominant at age 40. You just beat David Tua and you’re 40…
MONTE BARRETT: Bernard Hopkins, Antonio Tarver…
BOXING INSIDER: Things are changing…
MONTE BARRETT: But you’ve gotta think of the evolution of life. Think back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, those guys was fighting probably three times a month, and they wasn’t resting they bodies, they didn’t have the training, the food, and the supplements that we have now. And their gloves, horsehair, 6 ounce. At least we have 10 ounce, with foam. It makes a big difference.
BOXING INSIDER: 40 years old is not what it used to be, especially in the HW division.
MONTE BARRETT: It’s not a deathwish no more.
BOXING INSIDER: What did you think of the Vitali – Adamek fight?
MONTE BARRETT: I thought Adamek was overwhelmed in the beginning. When he fought Vitali, I thought, ‘You know, I think I can beat Vitali.’ And you know, Vitali is so smart, and he’s so physically strong. You what [the Klitschkos] do really good? The in and out. They hit you, and they out. You know what you have to do, is get hit–not get hit as much [as Adamek]–but when they go out, you go in. See, the whole thing is they have the in an out down pat, to a tee. If you look at it, every time [Vitali] jumped out, Adamek was out. You can’t go out and create more distance with their guy all the time. I was just like, ‘Wow!’ I just got pretty interested in fighting one of them.
If you notice, nobody really challenges [the Klitschkos]. Never puts them in an uncomfortable space. And I couldn’t believe that Vitali, with the success he had in the fight, didn’t just jump on [Adamek] and finish him. They’re so conservative.
BOXING INSIDER: I thought Vitali didn’t hurt Adamek as much as he could have. He held back a little. Maybe he likes him [laughter].
MONTE BARRETT: Probably. I know it would have been a different tone if it was David Haye. [Vitali] is the killer out of the brothers.
BOXING INSIDER: Wlad is the nice guy. Vitali is the older brother, Wlad always had Vitali to look out for him. Vitali had to be meaner.
MONTE BARRETT: You’re absolutely right. And I was saying to myself, ‘I’ve been around for 15 years, I’ve fought all the top ten guys, the champions. I fought everybody. I would think just through performance alone, I would be entitled to a [Klitschko] shot.’
If you compare me to all the guys out there, I couldn’t believe the rankings, the rankings are so much BS. I couldn’t believe some of the people they have up there. Gomez, who got stopped, Rahman, Sam Peter … I just couldn’t believe it. But you know, it is what it is. I can’t do nothing about it. One thing about me, I came up hard through the sport of boxing, I was never “given” an opponent. I was always the underdog, always.
BOXING INSIDER: You fought all the big guys, too: Wladimir…
MONTE BARRETT: Lance Whitaker, Nikolai Valuev, Tye Fields … I fought all the big guys, man. Nothing was ever easy, especially when I’m a small heavyweight in a big division.
BOXING INSIDER: Now you’ve got guys who duck fights, who don’t want to fight unless it’s a Klitschko for a big payday.
MONTE BARRETT: Exactly. I think that I’m deserving of a title shot or a mandatory, given who else is out there getting them.
BOXING INSIDER: Your excellent performances against Tua speak volumes for that. What do you think of James Toney going down to fight Denis Lebedev at cruiserweight?
MONTE BARRETT: I love James Toney, he’s one of my favorite fighters and I love him, but if James Toney is going to fight at cruiserweight, I’m fighting Floyd Mayweather! [laughter]
BOXING INSIDER: I’ll believe it when I see it – he signed a contract, but he’s still got to get there.
MONTE BARRETT: If he can go down to cruiserweight, I think Vitali and Wladimir are going to fight each other! Just because he signed a contract don’t mean it’s going to happen. His cruiserweight might be 212, 215!
BOXING INSIDER He was offered a catchweight fight at a higher weight, but he didn’t want it.
MONTE BARRETT: Maybe he can use that to motivate him to get in shape. Who knows? That’s one guy I would never fight, James Toney. Just on the level of respect I have for him as a fighter, I believe in his legacy. I feel that it would be a good fight between us, but I have so much respect for him, that’s one of the guys I would never fight in boxing.
BOXING INSIDER: Interesting.
MONTE BARRETT: He’s a guy I really look up to. I wouldn’t want to fight a guy who I really look up to; I think he’s done a lot for boxing, his personality. He’s the kind of guy who will back up what he says, who you have to have respect for.
BOXING INSIDER: It’s like the Klitschkos fighting each other, or two best friends fighting each other. A lot of the time fights like that don’t turn out well anyway. Like we have two good friends, Eddie Chambers and Tony Thompson, fighting each other soon. I don’t know how that is going to turn out.
MONTE BARRETT: It depends. When I fought Rahman, we were pretty good friends at the time, but it wasn’t about us being friends, it was about me having so much personal issues, that I brought to the fight the day of the fight. My trainer James Ali Bashir is training Eddie Chambers, so I wish them well. I know Tony and Eddie pretty well, I wish them both well, you know?
BOXING INSIDER: They are both very good heavyweights. There is an unfortunate tendency in American boxing circles now to call anyone a “bum” who loses to the Klitschkos. But that’s very unfair. The Klitschkos are dominating everyone. Losing to one of them doesn’t make you a “bum.”
MONTE BARRETT: Wladimir is recycling opponents. If you’re going to recycle opponents, recycle a guy you haven’t fought for the last three years. Recycle me, Monte Barrett! I have a chance to beat him, not because I’m brave and I have heart, no, it’s because I have trained hard, and learned how to apply winning to your lifestyle, outside of the ring. All the stars have to be lined up for you, that one night.
BOXING INSIDER: So now Wlad is fighting Jean Marc Mormeck, who hasn’t done anything as a heavyweight to speak of. I thought he lost his last fight to Timur Ibragimov…
MONTE BARRETT: He didn’t do too good against Vinny Maddalone, either.
BOXING INSIDER: I’d much rather see you, the “new” Monte Barrett, in there with Wlad.
MONTE BARRETT: But they not interested. We reached out to David Haye, the Klitschkos, everybody. But a fight with me at this point against any established guy is not a smart fight, because they have everything to lose. I’m a gatekeeper, I know my position in boxing.
BOXING INSIDER: That’s too bad for boxing. Nobody wants to see Wlad fight Mormeck, except maybe Mormeck and his banker.
MONTE BARRETT: I would really like to fight David Haye again. Or maybe Arreola as an eliminator. I could get up for Arreola, because I know he’s a game fighter. But it would have to be for something. I don’t want to fight just to fight. Then there’s Shane Cameron.
BOXING INSIDER: What is up with that? He was doing a lot of talking about it. We printed a story on it based on information coming from his camp.
MONTE BARRETT: It was really nothing, I see he’s all over the place talking about numbers, this and that numbers … It would have to either have a lot of zeros attached or lead up to a title shot, because it doesn’t make sense for me.
BOXING INSIDER: You’ve got to make every fight count at this point.
MONTE BARRETT: Exactly.
BOXING INSIDER: Any final words for your fans?
MONTE BARRETT: I want to shout out to my trainers, who have really kept me focused, I think we have the right chemistry to move forward, whether it’s wrestling or whether it’s boxing, just to be winning, you know? I appreciate these guys, because they really got me in a great place. And for the true, true boxing fans that really support boxing and support me, I just want to say ‘thank you, and keep doing your job.’