Transcript: Devon Alexander, Lucas Matthysse, Tavoris Cloud and Yusaf Mack Interview
TAVORIS CLOUD: I have been training 8 weeks for this fight. My game plan going in is to win the fight.
YUSAF MACK: I am working in the gym and looking for a win. Tavoris is a rough fighter and I’m just looking for a win and a good fight. He brings it and that is the type of fighter I like to fight. We are going to give the fans what they want to see. Come the 25th at the end of the fight I am going to have my hand raised.
You have a recent common opponent in Glen Johnson. Does that have any bearing on this fight?
YUSAF MACK: It is just the style of fight. Going in, I thought Johnson was old but in this fight I will stick to my game plan to win. I took Glen for granted. I should have looked right in front of me and taken care of business. This fight is going to be different and I’m going to show the world.
TAVORIS CLOUD: I looked at it and initially I dismiss that fight but still keep it inside my head that if he starts to fold under pressure, I go about things as usual. I am not expecting the same fighter. He had time to learn from his mistakes. I am expecting a better fighter since he is fighting for a world championship. I am expecting the best Yusaf Mack we have ever seen.
How much did the Johnson fight do for you?
TAVORIS CLOUD: I learned a lot from that fight. It was a good win as far as my confidence. I never had a lock of confidence when it comes to boxing and maybe that’s the reason why I am undefeated.
What kind of performance do you envision?
TAVORIS CLOUD: I don’t predict knockouts. The outcome and the performance I am looking for is a victory, nothing less than a victory. I respect every fighter that gets inside of the ring, especially with me. We just have to see how it will work out and the fashion that the fight will be won in, I don’t know yet, but hopefully it is in great fashion.
How does it affect the mentality going into the fight as a favorite?
TAVORIS CLOUD: It doesn’t affect me and I don’t let it affect me.
How do you beat Cloud?
YUSAF MACK: I don’t have a strategy – just win.
PERCY CUSTIS, Yusaf Mack’s trainer): We have been watching Tavoris and we know he’s a great fighter. We know he’s in shape and we know what we’re up against. We will do what we have to do and make adjustments as we go along on the day of the fight. Right now we are working on a lot of things that we normally do and the rest is up to him. Tavoris brings a lot of stuff to the ring and we don’t know what he’s going to do that day. We know one thing, we are in good shape and we’re ready to go.
YUSAF MACK: I am on my game and just ready. I want to put on a good show and hopefully get a good win. Steve Cunningham and Eddie Chambers (who were in camp with Yusaf), they have all been there before and I’ve been there before and they are pushing me.
With Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal fighting is there added pressure for you to be added into that conversation?
TAVORIS CLOUD: I am not thinking about those fights right now. The only fight I am thinking about is Yusaf Mack on June 25th. Other than that, no other fight matters to me right now.
What are your aspirations in the division?
TAVORIS CLOUD: My plan is to stay in the division and running it, unifying the titles as much as I can. I’m not going anywhere for a while.
KEVIN CUNNINGHAM, trainer and manager of Devon Alexander: I was training at this location [Colorado Springs] when I had Cory Spinks against Zab Judah in the first fight and you know how that turned out, so wait until you see this. We are in a town called Monument, Colorado. It’s about 20 miles north of Colorado Springs, 7500 feet above sea level. There are a bunch of ranches and farmland up here and it’s a beautiful place to train. I look out my window every morning and look at Pikes Peak. We didn’t run Pikes Peak, but we are at 7500 feet so we didn’t need that and we have had a great training camp.
DEVON ALEXANDER: It’s definitely good to be back. Training at the high altitude is great and the last time I was here was the USA Championships as an amateur. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday we run the trail and on Tuesday and Thursday we run a monster hill and it’s going pretty good. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday we are sparring and Tuesday and Thursday in the gym. So every day we are doing something hard. I am ready to rock and roll now.
ERIC GOMEZ, Vice President of Golden Boy Promotions: Lucas is obviously very excited for this opportunity. This is a great opportunity for him. He lost a very close decision to the IBF Champion Zab Judah. We know that Devon is a top-notch fighter and this is going to be a great fight.
LUCAS MATTHYSSE: I have been in Oxnard, California for two months and we are training out of the Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez training camp. This is a very important fight for me. It is going to be a tough fight. I have been training very hard and am in the last stages of preparation. This is going to be my last week of sparring. This is a very important fight, which I am dedicating to Argentina. It is great training here. It is my second time here. The first time I came over I spent three weeks for the Judah fight and I felt if I had been here longer it would have been better. So this time I have been here for two months and the preparation has been great. It’s tough training but I like it and it’s going to prepare me for this fight. Maravilla has been great and I’ve had the opportunity to train and spar with him a few times. He is one of the top southpaws in the game and it has helped my preparation and I’m very excited.
Have you gotten over the disappointment of the loss to Bradley?
DEVON ALEXANDER: No one likes to lose. I was upset for about a couple weeks but my coach was talking to me and it wasn’t like it was the end of the world. It’s not like Bradley dominated the fight. It was something I didn’t do. I didn’t follow the game plan. There were things I was supposed to be doing in the ring to come out with the victory and Bradley didn’t do anything that we didn’t prepare for in camp. It was all me and I definitely learned from that. Now I am back and ready to rock and roll. I just put it behind me and now I am 110%.
DON KING: We have the biggest show that has ever been in Missouri with four world title fights plus Devon Alexander “The Great” and Lucas Matthysse so we need to make certain the people get what they pay for and get what we promise. This event means a lot to me because I am a promoter of the people for the people and this is an example of that and that’s why I am appreciative of Kevin Cunningham who has been working with me and in the St. Louis area in the great state of Missouri. I have been in touch with the Mayors of St. Charles and St. Louis and the President of the St. Louis Board of Alderman to make this a real happening. It is going to take people like Devon Alexander, Kevin Cunningham as well as Eric Gomez and Lucas Matthysse to make this happen. And we have one of St. Charles’ own in Ryan Coyne challenging Guillermo Jones for the cruiserweight championship of the world, along with the guy that beat Cory Spinks, Cornelius Bundrage—they call him K-9—who is taking on Sechew Powell defending his title for the first time. We have a super hero who fought there before in Tavoris Cloud, the Thunder Cloud who is going to be defending his title against Yusaf Mack. And we put Cory Spinks back on who is looking for redemption from the loss to K-9. I will be arriving in St. Louis tonight (Tuesday, June 14) to work throughout the night of the fight. It means a lot to me to be turning 80 and have a birthday present and you bring these young men together to give them an opportunity to get them into the eyes of the world and it makes me feel good and not do it with knives or guns but with physical prowess and with understanding and love in their heart. They are going to go after it and do each other in. It is a great feeling for me and God bless America and it’s the greatest country in the world.
Talk about fighting in St. Charles.
DEVON ALEXANDER: It feels good and actually I will be fighting right around the corner from where I just moved. It’s going to feel good to get back in the ring in my hometown. My coach and I are preparing 120% to stay focused once we get there and will put on a spectacular performance for the fans in St. Louis.
Do you feel the loss was a blessing in disguise?
DEVON ALEXANDER: I hate to lose and even as an amateur I won every tournament I was in. That fight taught me I had to do what I needed to do, in any circumstance and any obstacle there is in that ring I need to get through it. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do and you saw the result of that. Whoever saw the fight saw that Bradley wasn’t better than me that night – it was all me and what I didn’t do. That’s why we are taking on a tough guy like Matthysse because the Bradley fight didn’t take anything out of me. It only motivated me to get in with the best and continue to fight the best. That’s why I am taking on one of the toughest guys in the division.
Last time you fought here you thought you were distracted. What will happen this time?
DEVON ALEXANDER: At this point in my career every fight means everything. I have to stay focused no matter how high the stakes are or how low the stakes are, you have to stay focused and follow the game plan. At the end of the day it is going to be you and that guy in the ring and it’s who wins the game will win the fight. That’s what I learned.
Is Matthysse’s knockout power a concern?
DEVON ALEXANDER: Of course I will be concerned about whatever the other person’s strong trait is. We are prepared for that and ready to go 12 hard rounds. We know what we have in front of us and I am confident in my team that we have a strong game plan.
KEVIN CUNNINGHAM: I call him Lucas ‘The Beast’ Matthysse. I think he’s a beast and he’s got the highest knockout percentage in the division and that makes him the biggest puncher in the division. We know exactly the challenge we have in front of us and this is exactly what we want. This fight is a lot more dangerous than the Tim Bradley fight. Devon has to be on his game. He is prepared and he has to be focused. These are the type of fights that if you want to claim you are the best in your division these are the types of fights you need to take on. A lot of guys think Maidana is the toughest guy in the division and I think it is Matthysse. He has a better punching style and better boxing skills. He is the most dangerous guy in the division and that’s what we are going to be dealing with n the 25th.
He knocked out Corley in short…
KEVIN CUNNINGHAM: You are talking about Chop Chop and he is pretty much chopped liver. He is a strong guy and has a decent skill set. This is the type of guy that Devon will rebound with. Most guys coming off a loss are looking for an easy guy and that’s not what we are in business to do. We want to prove we are the best so we have to beat the best.
What did you gain from watching the Judah fight?
DEVON ALEXANDER: Nothing because he is not going to get the same thing he got from Zab with me. I think Zab is older and his legs are pretty much gone. I am fresher, younger and hungrier. I will be on him and throwing punches all night.
Does the criticism after your last loss weigh on you?
DEVON ALEXANDER: I am going to look spectacular. I learned from the loss against Bradley. I want to beat him and beat him convincingly. Not just go in there and it be an OK fight. I want to say ‘OK, I lost the Bradley fight but now I am back on top’ and be one of the best in the division.
Are there similarities between Judah and Alexander?
LUCAS MATTHYSSE: I learned a lot from the Judah fight but this is going to be a different kind of fight because Devon is a much better fighter. He is a better boxer and throws more punches and he will be the best fighter I have ever faced. Martinez has given me tips. It is going to be a tough fight and I am very well prepared.
Did he spar with Brandon Rios?
LUCAS MATTHYSSE: I learn from any fighter I go in and spar with. It was a great experience and I did very well against him. We both learned from each other. It was six rounds of intense sparring and it was a great opportunity.
Do you agree with Kevin Cunningham when he stated you are better than Maidana?
LUCAS MATTHYSSE: It is due to my training. I train hard. There are a lot of good fighters in this division: Maidana, Kahn, Judah, Alexander. My main thing is I want to be included in the mix and this is my opportunity and I’m happy to be here.
Have you changed training in anticipation of this fight?
DEVON ALEXANDER: We didn’t change much. We added a little strength and conditioning but other than that I just got back to what I do best. We added the stuff I needed to be doing in the Bradley fight, just doing it right instead of going in there and just doing anything.
You are going into another guy’s hometown, Lucas. Does that make you nervous?
LUCAS MATTHYSSE: No, I am not worried at all. I train for a knockout. I can’t worry about a decision and I can’t let it get to a decision and that’s what I have been working for.
Did you predict a round?
LUCAS MATTHYSSE: I don’t like to predict rounds. That is not my job. If it does go the distance, I have to respect the judges and there won’t be a hometown decision.
Do you hear criticisms regarding the Bradley fight?
DEVON ALEXANDER: People want to criticize everything you do. People criticize Pacquiao, Mayweather or Obama, everyone that is at the top of their game. It’s part of the territory. I didn’t read anything after the fight. I just stayed to myself. I knew there was going to be criticism. I just stayed away from it and blocked it all out. I know what I’m capable of doing in the ring and it only motivated me to get back in the gym and get back on top. So it didn’t affect me at all.
Can you respond to the type of criticism?
KEVIN CUNNINGHAM: I wasn’t surprised by it. I lay the blame on Devon and me and that’s where it should be laid. When you don’t go out and do what you’re capable of doing, you are going to get criticized. I accept the criticism, he accepts the criticism and we accept full responsibility for coming up short in a great opportunity that was before us, but I’m telling you we won’t come up short on June 25, and I believe this fight is going to be a lot tougher fight than the Bradley fight.
Did you ever think of taking a lighter fight?
KEVIN CUNNINGHAM: If I thought that Devon wasn’t the real deal and exactly who we say he is, then I would think about taking a couple steps back and find a soft touch, but Devon is clearly one of the best fighters in the division, so we don’t need to look for a soft opponent. As far as the Bradley fight, Devon didn’t perform up to his capabilities, and Bradley got the decision, which he deserved, but if you look a the fight, it was a close fight, a back-and-forth fight, and when you see that and say that Devon wasn’t performing up to his capabilities, but it’s a close fight with the No. 1 guy in the division. It was a close fight and my guy is doing nothing he is capable of doing and I know that so there is no reason to take a step back. So that is why we are taking this fight and if Devon performs the way he is capable of performing and we’ll move on from there.
Did you start to slow against Judah?
LUCAS MATTHYSSE: That was the game plan. I felt he was an older guy. In the first few rounds we had to work the body and then finish the fight strong and put a lot of pressure on him. The game plan worked perfectly and I won that fight. I thought I won the fight and the judges saw it differently and there is nothing to say about that. I learned a lot in that fight and one thing you can’t take for granted when fighting in another guy’s hometown you have to fight hard and challenge him every single second every single minute of every round.
Why didn’t you fight up to your capabilities against Bradley?
DEVON ALEXANDER: I didn’t do what I needed to do. I listened to the crowd and did what they wanted me to do which is just go out there and fight and that’s not how I do it. We had the perfect game plan throughout camp and we threw it all away in one night and that’s not good.
The Bradley fight is motivation because I know I am way better than Bradley and I let it slip out of my hands. After the fight a guy was telling me that Sugar Ray Leonard lost his first fight against Duran then he came back and knocked him out. That is motivation too. I am self-motivated in any situation but as far as this situation it just got me more motivated.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
DEVON ALEXANDER: I can’t say that I have a biggest inspiration because I look at all positive inspirations. My mom, my dad and my coach, too, inspire me. No one is bigger. I just use it all and take it and use it.
What is your biggest fight to date?
LUCAS MATTHYSSE: It would have to be the Zab Judah fight. It was a very important fight. Now this fight is going to be the biggest and most important fight, so I can demonstrate what I am capable of doing. I train very hard.
How do feel about being the loser in the Bradley fight and coming right back for a big fight when the winner has turned down a much bigger fight and is sitting on the sidelines?
DEVON ALEXANDER: I don’t know who is advising Bradley but coming off a big win and Kahn has a belt I would have definitely taken the fight. I don’t know what Bradley’s problem is and I heard they even upped it to $1.8 [million]. I want to get back to where I am in position to where I am fighting in Vegas. People promise fights and you never know what can happen. You have to take the opportunity as they come and I would have taken it. But everything happens for a reason.
KEVIN CUNNINGHAM: You know how we operate. We make fights, we don’t turn down fights. We would have taken that fight but I don’t want to speak for Tim and his team because I’m sure they have a strategy. I can only speak for us, and if we had the opportunity, we would have taken it and hopefully for us if Devon beats Matthysse we get the winner of Kahn-Judah or something like that.
What did you want Devon to become more aware of when you went back to camp?
KEVIN CUNNINGHAM: You can’t prepare for Matthysse the way you prepare for Tim Bradley. They are two different fighters, and I think Matthysse is more dangerous. This guy is the biggest puncher in the division. For the most part, we got back in the gym and stayed positive and want to turn the Bradley negative into a positive on June 25. We got back in the gym and worked on the basics, and we’ll come out smelling like a rose.