Lanell Bellows Aims for Four More Fights This Year.
By Shakeria Hawkins
With less than six months left in 2018 super middleweight prospect Lanell “KO” Bellows wants to try to get four more fights before 2019.
“I want three to four more fights this year, at least three,” said Bellows
On July 21, Las Vegas’ Lanell Bellows, who has a record of 17-2-2 (10 KOs) will fight in his second fight of the year against Lamar Harris 9-15-4 (5 KOs).
The two super middleweights will step into the ring in Memphis, Tennessee at the FedEx arena for the vacant American Boxing Federation USA super middleweight title.
BoxingInsider.com caught up with Bellows on his thoughts of the opponent and their upcoming bout. Bellows stated,
“When you put those gloves on and you get in the square there’s always a danger for myself and the opponent so I definitely feel like he’s going to come and fight. I definitely don’t look past him. I take every fight very serious as if it is a title fight, and this is actually a title fight this time. I mean I don’t look past no one’s record.”
Bellows last fight was in May against Sweden boxer Naim Terbunja, in an 8 round bout which resulted in a draw.
When asked why he decided to take a fight so soon? Bellows responded, “Activity, I definitely want to be more active in this sport and in my career, so it’s actually a blessing to get a fight in a short time span.”
Bellows also included that it’s a lot better to take fights close together because, “it’s easier for you to stay on track with your routine diet and training.”
“Where I’m trying to go…It’s not just how many times I fight, but also with who I fight. I’d like a little more activity with a fighter who has a prestigious amateur background. I would like to fight more, but I would also like to get more quality fights,” he quoted in an exclusive interview with BoxingInsider.com.
Franchon Crews Dezurn: Looking for a Title Shot
By: Bryant Romero
Super middleweight contender Franchon Crews Dezurn is still looking to duplicate the success in the professional ranks like she had as an amateur. Crews was a highly decorated amateur, an 8 time national champion, a 4 time national golden gloves champion, plus many other accolades in the amateur ranks. The 31-year-old originally from Virginia, now living and fighting out of Baltimore recently met with boxinginsider to talk about her boxing career, how the transition to the pro game has been, the feeling she had when she lost out on the Olympics despite her amateur success, and her rivalry with Clarissa Shields.
“I’m originally from Virginia and I moved to Baltimore around 2001 then I discovered boxing in 2005 on the fly,” Crews said.
Photo Credit: Franchon Crews Dezurn Twitter Account
Franchon originally had aspirations to be a singer and songwriter, but she was aware that image would be an important factor in accomplishing that dream. So she turned to boxing to lose some weight, but would soon discover she was always a fighter at heart.
“With my aspirations to be a singer you had to look a certain part, so I was interested in losing weight,” Franchon told me. “I wasn’t like obese or anything but I wasn’t typical pop star material back then.
“My mentor at the time told me ‘you know maybe you should lose a little weight,’ and I was in the studio one time and two gentleman who also come to the studio they told me about how you could lose 5 pounds in a day at the boxing gym.
“And that sounded very appealing to me and they took me to a gym and I’ve been stuck ever since,” she said.
From there she would a spark a very successful amateur career and was considered one of the faces in American’s women’s boxing. However, she would lose out on the Olympics when she was upset by a younger boxing prodigy in Clarissa Shields at the first U.S. Olympic Women’s boxing trials. Franchon was devastated by the defeat, but it did not break her.
“It put a damper on me, it bent me out of shape, but it didn’t break me,” Franchon said. “I had to dig down deep and find out who I was with or without boxing.
“It was really devastating because you work really hard and to be robbed of the opportunity to even go to the Olympics, it was devastating but it made me who I am. It definitely thickened by skin,” she said.
Franchon would later get a chance avenging her amateur defeat to Shields into the professional ranks when she stepped in on short notice to take on Shields in her pro debut. Franchon would lose again to Shields by decision and perhaps it wasn’t the wisest of moves to step in on short notice against Shields, but she’s a risk taker and still believes that one day she will defeat Shields.
“I live life on a limb. I’m a risk taker. I want to beat her, I’m going to beat her,” Franchon told me. “But at the time I wasn’t in any shape to be taking that kind of fight. But I know her very well and I know myself and no other girls would step up.
“I just stepped up and I know what I can do, I believe in myself. I really want a rematch,” Franchon said.
Franchon would go on to win her next three bouts in dominate fashion, but had a brief retirement from the sport just last December as she would grow tired of the politics of the sport. She would later sign with Salita promotions and had a good opportunity fighting on a shobox undercard. However, her stint with Salita promotions was short lived and is now a free agent.
“Right now I’m keeping my options open and I know in November I’ll possibly be fighting. I would love to fight before then, but right now I’m focusing on me and getting my conditioning together,” Franchon said.
“Since I been a pro I haven’t had an opportunity to be in the best shape ever. I’m just taking a time out and getting my business together, so I can jump back out there,” she said.
Franchon is itching to get back in the ring as she still wants to accomplish a lot in this sport that includes beating the best of the best around her weight class, to compete on the same card as her husband who is also a professional fighter, and to continue the fight to advance women’s boxing.
“I want to beat the best of best whether it’s a Clarissa or a Hammer whoever claims to be the best, I would love to fight them and beat them,” Franchon told me. “I want to be a world champ. I want to help advance women’s boxing; I want to be a part of that fight.
“Tell these girls to stop babysitting belts. I’m down to fight; I want to fight to become world champ, traveling the world and get my shot on TV. Lastly, I want to fight on a card with my husband in the future,” she said.
Charvis Holifield Keeps His Forward Momentum
By: Sean Crose
“I’ve been in Vegas for the past five years,” welterweight Charvis Holifield tells me. I ask him what kind of town Sin City is to live in. “Can’t complain,” he responds good naturedly. “I’ve seen worse.” Holified will be putting his skills on display against Donald Ward on the 21st of this month in Memphis at the Fed Ex Forum. “Training’s going pretty good,” he says, “I’ve been going out to the mountains.”
Holifield, whose record stands at 7-2-1 may have two losses to his record, but one of those losses was by disqualification – in a fight Holifield says he was on the verge of winning. “It was a cheap mouthpiece,” he says in regards to the gum guard which caused him to lose his 2014 bout against David Thomas. “I was brought in on the B side,” he claims. “I’m one and oh at the time.”
Holifield had lost his mouthpiece twice in the end of the bout, then, when Holified was coming on strong, it happened a final time. “I was ripping my shots and my mouthpiece came out,” says Charvis. “I beat myself.”
Charvis, however, didn’t let the slip on the road stop him. Indeed, he had been boxing since he was a young man. “My dad introduced me to combat sports,” he says.“He was a fifth degree black belt and Tai Kwan Do.” It was clear early that Charvis had a talent. “When I turned nine he stopped teaching karate,” he says of his father. “Then I found a boxing gym in my hometown of Fremont, Ohio.” Charvis had found the sport which would define him.
“I stuck with boxing,” he says. “It was always something that I had, that I loved, that I wanted to do.” After a rather vast amateur career (“I made it to the national golden gloves in 2003 out here in Vegas), Charvis’ wife gave him the push he needed. “My wife was like: ‘If you want to box, we have to go to Vegas,’” he says. Taking her sound advice, Charvis moved to Vegas. “I was going to the Mayweather boxing club,” he says. “I met J’Lean love and we’ve been friends ever since.”
Holifield is now “with the Money Team, with Affiliation Management,” and ready to continue his climb. “I would like it to move forward and go in a positive direction, of course,” he says of his career. “I would like to have bigger opportunities.” Yet unlike some professional athletes, Holified knows that fighters can’t go on endlessly. “I’m not going to be doing this forever,” he admits. “Right now, I just recently got my real estate license. I just passed the state and the national test out here in Vegas.”
Perhaps that move out west will pay off in more ways than one.
Pacquiao Understudy and Sparring Partner George Kambosos Jr. Puts In The Rounds, Eyes His Own World Title Campaign
By Vishare Mooney
He’s been busy. In the last 14 months, undefeated Greek Australian fighter George ‘Ferocious’ Kambosos Jr. (14-0, 8 KOs), left Australia to train in the U.S., made his American debut with a stunning first round knockout of Jose Forero and trained in two world title camps (Pacquiao vs. Horn, Pacquiao vs. Matthysse). With his eyes clearly set on the prize, a world title, Kambosos Jr. has also found a friend and mentor in Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs), boxing’s most heralded 8-division world champion, having now sparred over 110 rounds with the legendary fighter.
The 25-year-old Kambosos Jr., who shares a coach with Pacquiao in former world title contender Justin Fortune and who is managed by Lou DiBella, will fight Filipino fighter JR “Star Boy” Magboo (17-1-2, 8 KOs) in the featured undercard of the Pacquiao-Matthysse WBA welterweight title fight in Kuala Lampur, this Saturday, July 14th on ESPN+. It was Pacquiao who insisted on adding his constant sparring partner, Kambosos Jr. on the already packed undercard roster. I caught up with Kambosos Jr. via videoconference, just days ahead of his fight and talked about his friendship with Manny, training regimen and goals for his own world title campaign.
Kambosos Jr. discussed why Pacquiao called on him again as a sparring partner. “I think he sees a younger version in myself, except for that I’m an orthodox fighter. We both train extremely hard, we both need to be pulled back by Justin Fortune, our coach at times to slow down. We both have the same mentality. He sees a young Manny Pacquiao in myself, so that’s how I got the opportunity. He wants to help my career as well. What better guy than the guy that’s done the most in boxing history” Kambosos Jr. added, “I think Manny will play a vital role in my future and my career, along side my promoter and my team.”
The camp was his second in 14 months. Kambosos Jr. was part of the Pacquiao vs. Horn team last summer. He said he is “still sore from the disappointment of the Horn fight” and adjustments have been made this time around. “We trained a lot smarter, pulled back on certain things, take a day off for rest, do some different kind of recovery, take a lighter session in the gym. I feel fresher during this camp. I feel great and I know Manny does as well. He will be ready for the fight on Sunday. There will be no excuses. Everything is ready to go.”
When Kambosos Jr. fights this weekend, it will have only been ten weeks since his last fight in May. He said it is the fastest turn around of his career and he likes it that way. He had trained hard for his American debut against Jose Forero, amassing over 150 sparring rounds prior to the swift win by TKO. By June, he was once again on a plane to the Philippines to reunite with Pacquiao. And after their first sparring session, got put on the undercard.
I asked Kambosos Jr. if he was at all nervous about his upcoming fight. “No, I have been sparring an all time great, the god of fighting. He’s Manny Pacquiao. I have been going toe to toe with Pacquiao not only on this camp but the last camp, that’s like over hundred something rounds together. I am more than ready for this fight. I’m excited for the challenge. And I know that I can’t afford any slip-ups. I need to make another good statement.”
What does he know of his opponent, JR Magboo? “He’s a tough Filipino. He’s 17-1. Knows his way around the ring. I research every fighter that I come across. I even research guys that I’m not fighting and could be fighting in the future so I look at everything. I’ve trained so hard I feel like I’m fighting Matthysse alongside Pacquiao.”
“As soon as I get in some shots, he (Magboo) is going to feel everything that I have done in camp and I’m coming for the knock out – that’s what I’m chasing. “
Kambosos Jr. seems to be keenly aware of the significance of this moment, his time with Pacquiao and his boxing career trajectory. On his quest to a world title, he has come a long way from being the chubby, bullied kid in Australia. “I was an obese kid, bullied, picked on, always picked last. If there was a joke it was going to be on me, So I just wanted to change my life. As soon as I started doing boxing the weight came off, my confidence got much better. I had a few school fights. Hurt them, beat up a few people, they realized, ok this guy can fight, we’re going to leave him alone. And now the rest if history.”
“Now look where I am, world ranked fighter, huge fan base, Manny Pacquiao’s chief sparring partner. I get to fight on a huge show like this…it’s incredible the journey I’ve had. But you know, I already envision the future I will have, not only as a world champion, but multiple champion, unified champion.”
Kambosos Jr. trains for each fight as if he were in a world title fight. “Before I had my pro debut, a good friend of mine said, look, now you’re a pro, treat every fight like a world title fight because it is. Every step is getting close to the world title. That’s the ambition, that’s the end goal. “
“I have been fortunate to be a part of proper world title camps. And so I have taken what Manny does in his training and added it to my game. I know what it takes at that level. I have trained alongside a legend in the sport, and I’m ready to have my own world title camp in the very near future.”
Joet Gonzalez – Ready For The Spotlight
By: Sean Crose
“Every other day, we run six to eight miles,” Joet Gonzalez tells me. “The location varies.” There are nineteen year olds who go to college. There are nineteen year olds who hold down forty hour full time jobs. There are nineteen year olds in the military. There are nineteen year olds who are slackers. There are few nineteen year olds, however, quite like the well spoken young Californian on the phone, who currently holds a record of 19-0, with eleven of those nineteen wins coming by knockout. “I start with jumping rope,” he says of his gym routine while in training, “shadow boxing, spar…go over the game plan.”
It’s a routine and a strategy which has served the rising featherweight well. He’s about to highlight his own ESPN card, after all, when he faces the 25-1-2 Rafael Rivera in Las Angeles on the 13th of this month for the vacant NABO featherweight title. “I take Rafael very seriously,” Gonzalez says, pointing out that Rivera fought the very notable Joseph Diaz last September on about “two to three day’s notice.” Rivera may have lost that fight, but Gonzalez knows that this time out, things will be different in the lead up for his determined Mexican opponent. “With me,” he says of Rivera, “he had time to prepare.”
Growing up, Gonzalez probably wasn’t the sort of kid most people figured would become a headline fighter showing off his skills on national television. “I was a little overweight,” he says, “and I was picked on.” Like many fighters who got their starts as bullied kids, Gonzalez’ father introduced him to boxing. Needless to say, the young man soon became hooked. Aside from his own experiences, Gonzlaez was inspired by Oscar De La Hoya, the man who would someday become his promoter. He speaks fondly of watching the thrilling throwdown De La Hoya had with Fernando Vargas back in 2002. “That really pushed me,” he says. It clearly helped push Gonzalez far, for the young fighter now willfully forgoes a life of ease.
“Obviously,” Gonzalez claims in regards to his athlete’s lifestyle. “I’m not out late.” Although he has a girlfriend, the professional boxer won’t be seen running around out and about with people his own age during all hours of the night. His profession, after all requires a large amount of discipline. Even during the Fourth of July, while everyone else was celebrating, Gonzalez was in the gym training for Rivera. “I could smell the barbecue from outside,” he says. To Gonzalez, however, such temptations are all a part of the job. “When I’m in camp,” he states, “I’m really focused.”
Such dedication leads to good things – one of those things being the ability to sign with a top promoter. De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions has not only made good fights available for Gonzalez, the company also offers the kind of exposure that’s hard to come by. “Since I signed with Golden Boy in 2012,” Gonzalez says, they’ve treated me really good.” Gonzalez states the company has gone out of it’s way to make him feel at home. “Just the way they talk to me,” he says, “they treat me like family…not just me, but my (own) family, as well.”
Hard work brings about its own rewards.
Alberto Machado: “You Need To Have Heart To Fight”
By: Sean Crose
“Camp is going very well,” WBA super featherweight titlist Alberto “El Explosivo” Machado tells me over the phone. “People are going to see the best version of me.” He’s speaking of his July 21st match against fellow undefeated fighter, 31-0 Rafael Mensah of Ghana. “He’s a good fighter with a great record,” the 19-0 Machado says of his foe. “I know he’s strong, but I’ve been preparing for that opponent.” With 23 knockouts, Mensah can indeed pack a wallop. Yet Machado, with 16 knockouts of his own, can hit as well… a fact that was reiterated when he won the title last fall against Panama’s Jezreel Corrales.
Photo Credit: Alberto Machado Twitter Account
Despite the fact that Corrales was cruising past Puerto Rico’s Machado. The 27-year-old was able to get off the mat and then go on a tear. As I wrote at the time: “Machado rocked his man…He then rocked his man again seconds later. The fight was changing course – and getting quite exciting. Corrales came back and nailed his man in the seventh. Machado, however, suddenly dropped Corrales in the eighth.” Corrales gamely go back up on wobbly legs, but the fight was stopped. Machado found himself a world champion.
While Machado has proven himself to be a knockout artist (winning 16 of 19 fights by kayo will do that for a fighter), the bout against Corrales showed that a large degree of heart and guts is also in his arsenal. That sort of thing not only helps a boxer exponentially; it makes that fighter fan friendly. There’s a reason, after all, why Machado can boast of having Golden Boy Promotions, Miguel Cotto, and Freddie Roach on his team. “You need both,” he says when I ask if heart trumps skill. “Heart and skills are things all boxers should have…you need to have heart to fight.”
Despite the fact he’s facing a fellow undefeated fighter on July 21st, despite the fact that he will be facing his man live in front of HBO cameras, despite the fact that the shape of his entire future depends on his performance that evening, there’s something else besides just besting Mensah that Machado may be expected to accomplish. For Machado comes from the same island that produced such notables as Wilfred Benitez, Felix Trinidad, Miguel Cotto, Hector Camacho, Edwin Rosario, and what seems to be countless others. In other words, the young man is representing an impressive pugilistic tradition…not that he’s letting it weigh on him too heavily.
“I’m so happy,” he says, “to see my name on the list of all those great champions” from Puerto Rico. For the time being, though, Machado is happy working hard and being a world titlist. “Training’s good,” he claims. Knowing that the unexpected to can always happen (he proved it himself against Corrales), Machado plans on entering the ring at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Vegas on the 21st ready to battle with the widely unknown Mensah. A bout, as he himself knows all too well, can be altered in an instant.
“It’s going to be a good fight,” he says.
Interview with Gary Rae: A Painter and a Boxer
By: Oliver McManus
On the same card as Josh Taylor vs Viktor Postol, Gary Rae took to the ring for the eight time as a professional boxer with the 29 year old looking to move up the ranks as quickly as possible. A full time painter-decorator, I rang up Gary whilst he was poolside in Tenerife and, whilst I know I’ve got to refrain from too much of an opinion, he has to be one of the nicest guys I’ve met since I’ve started covering the sport of boxing.
Gary is unique in that his trainer, Mark Breslin, has been coaching him since the amateur days – way back in 2010, when the Barrhead super bantamweight first took up boxing – and their relationship, as he goes on to say, has developed to such an extent their like father and son. The following is our conversation, talking everything from last week’s fight, THAT relationship with Mark, targeting titles and, most importantly, what type of sweet he’d be – we’ll start about sixty seconds in;
… “I’m good Gary, I feel like I’ve woken you up!”
No what it is, is, I’m actually on holiday in Tenerife, we’d book it at Christmas time for my mum, my sister, my girlfriend and my eight year old nephew – his first time abroad – and when they first announced the fight it was a strange one, it was originally the 9th June and then they pushed it back a bit and I was flying out at six in the morning on the Sunday (24th) so I had to get from Glasgow back to Barrhead which is around an hour’s drive, pack my suitcase and then get on down to the airport.
How long are you there for?
Just a week, flying back out on Sunday.
I mean, holiday aside, the obvious starting point is the fight on Saturday (against Johnson Tellez), how do you feel it went?
It was great just to get the win, I felt it was a good fight but I was a bit slow to start. He was working well behind the jab and I feel the occasion was a real eye opener for me, I was looking round and thinking “that’s more than my mum and my girlfriend cheering for me”. It was an awesome atmosphere to come out just before Josh but I think I was trying a wee bit too hard for the stoppage. Near the end I was loading up trying to chase Tellez around the ring instead of cutting it off but it was a great experience for me and he was throwing some shots back, caught me with a couple.
He was only small but he really didn’t stop throwing punches, was it hard to get into your rhythm?
Yeah it really was, at the weigh in I knew he was pretty small but when we got into the weigh in I thought “my god, he’s tiny” and from then I knew it would be really difficult to catch him clean, I think a few times it was hard to get down to his level, I’m used to throwing shots straight, but he was so small and I don’t think I’ve even sparred with anyone that small but it was hard work to put punches together.
He could just roll and step out the distance, I have quite long levers but I couldn’t get the distance for a couple rounds; he was throwing the punches and moving around and his shots were ones that could have been dangerous if I wasn’t fully switched on.
I tried to keep it 1, 2, 3, back to basics and keep my distance, land some nice body shots. I haven’t seen it back myself but my coach, Mark (Breslin), was telling me to keep my distance and not to get involved too close because he was worried about head-clashes and getting a cut. I did end up getting a wee lump above my left temple from a clash of head – it was nothing major, it went down after a couple days.
And this was your third fight of 2018, how often can we expect to see you out in the remaining six months?
I would like to be out again as soon as possible, to be honest, I’m always of the opinion that although I still work full time, boxing is my other job and it’s my full time job, too. It’s my job to always be ready to fight – I’m a painter and decorator so at any moment I’ve got to go and paint someone’s house and I think it should be the same the other way round, I should always be ready for a fit. I’m always fit, I’m always in the gym and I live a healthy life so I am always ready whenever I get the opportunity.
Ideally as soon as possible but speaking with Iain Wilson, my promoter, I think he’s having a public show in Paisley Lagoon in October (6th) and I’d like to get out on that after a wee break but as soon as I get home I’ll be back in the gym; it would be great to have two or three by the end of the year, get to 10 and 0 in my second year as a professional, looking at what’s going to come up next and I’m excited to see what we can really do.
Not sure what’s happening with Josh’s world title fight, I see some rumours it may be in New York, but it’ll be great if it’s in Scotland so I can be on the undercard of a world title fight and that would be amazing.
How hard is it to fit training in and around working full time?
Yeah, I can’t lie, it is really hard to get through but as you say it is something I have to get used to because I don’t have loads of money where I can fund being a full time boxer so I work full time, get up at half four in the morning, go and do my training – strength and conditioning or runs – then I go out for eight, nine hours at work, get home and change my clothes and then it’s straight back out sparring, boxing training, strength and conditioning at night.
Every day is planned out from getting up and I try to get to bed as soon as I can, I don’t like to get to bed too late as sleep is really important for recovery and I always have a rest day…
… I have a rest day every Thursday and I’ll always go and visit my gran, go up and have a wee gab with my gran whilst Sunday’s are meal prep day and I’ll make 20-30 meals for the week ahead so, yeah, it is tough work but I love it, I love the sport of boxing and I’m trying to test myself to see how good I am – that’s all it’s ever been about, since the amateur’s and now I’m a bit older than most people at this stage but I’ll give it a good go.
The fight on Saturday was part of a Cyclone Promotions card, live on Channel 5, how did it feel to be on TV or was it just a regular fight?
No it’s a bit of difference, I felt, my first two fights were in Saint Andrews, in Glasgow, and they were broadcast on STV 2 – so not a big channel – but the difference from there to this one was massive, I felt quite a bit nervous and to see all the messages from my friends and family, I was trying not to think about it but I knew everyone back in Barrhead would be watching and wanting me to win and all of a sudden I started thinking “what if I don’t win, what if I don’t perform well” and I had to get rid of those doubts, my coach Mark was telling me it was nothing.
“As soon as you get in that ring it’s just me and you, nothing else matters, just listen to what I say and box well, try and enjoy it but don’t get involved with the crowd” and I think I did that okay, it wasn’t a bad performance, I’d have liked to put together a few more combinations but I did struggle with his height.
As the interview progressed it was clear to see that Gary was one of those guy’s in the professional scene still doing it for the love of boxing as opposed to trying to rake in the big bucks – of course that would be an added bonus but it’s not the driving factor – and there was one distinct inspiration for Gary in his coach Mark Breslin, himself 15 and 0 as a professional, and a man who Gary likens to a father-figure;
For me it’s so important (continuity), I need that. Mark has looked after me since I started boxing in 2010 as an amateur – he had a good amateur, and professional, career, I think he had 15 fights as a pro with 15 wins – he knows what it’s all about but he’s someone I look up to as a father figure. I don’t have a dad in my life and I’ve got a really good bond with Mark, he’s someone who’s got two children himself so he’s like the dad I never had, a really tight relationship, I can speak to him about anything and it’s good to know there’s a mutual trust and genuine care for each other outside of boxing.
Whatever happens Mark will look after me and he knows my mentality and how much I can endure and that we’re not going to fall out over anything because we know each other so well. It’s really great to have that and not many others have that relationship with their coach, other than when they train with their dad, Mark is just loyal to the end.
If we talk about motivation, what is it that gets you through those dark times?
Sometimes if I’m at work, I just sit there and I’m surrounded by paint and I think “I’m going to have work a bit longer, I just won’t go for that run tonight”, when I sit down for five minutes I just think even if I don’t have another opponent I’m always trying to improve, trying to work harder than the next guy to make sure I don’t get beat in the next fight and that’s the way I look at it. If I don’t do it then I’m not going to perform, I’m 100% or nothing with everything I do whether that’s painting or boxing, I always want to do the best job and I will always give 100%, blood, sweat and tears. If I don’t win I want to be able to say it was by the better man not because I didn’t give everything and I will never cut corners, I need to know I’ve given myself the best opportunity.
Super bantamweight at the moment, is there potential for you to move up or down a weight?
They billed the last fight at featherweight, I’ve no idea why…
You weighed in about 123 (lbs) or 124…
Yeah I was eight stone 11 pounds but I was told I could come in up to nine stone – they told me that two weeks before the fight but, by then, I was already down at eight stone nine so I just had a couple days where I could eat and I was eating and drinking. I’m one of these freaks of nature that can still make super-bantam really well, I’m really tall, I think I’m 5”10, I’ve always been slim.
I tell you what, Gary, I’m six foot and I weight about 7st 12lbs…
That’s incredible pal, that’s a proper freak of nature right there. You’ll know what it’s like, then, I’ve got no problem making weight even if I do eat a little bit so I could see myself getting to bantamweight if an opportunity were to pop up but I couldn’t go any lower. If anything were to pop up at bantam, super bantam, even feather, I’m not afraid to shy away from these fights.
Looking at titles then, how long is it before you’re in the mix?
If I’m honest I’m really not sure, I’m ready to fight for the Commonwealth title and I would like that by the end of this year or even next year. I know it was vacant for a while and I was ready, I’m not sure who had it now (Ashley Lane) but I think that could be a title I would be capable of challenging for by the end of this year. I think Thomas Patrick Ward has vacant the (British) title so I feel Jazza Dickens vs Martin Ward, I think Jazza would win that, and it’s been made for the end of July. I think that’s a while away and I need experience before I challenge one of those boys over 12 but I’ve been doing that in sparring. I think I would need more rounds to mentally tick the box to show myself I can deal with the pressure under the lights, I do keep myself fit but I think there would be a difference in the ring mentally, especially when they’ve been there and done it for a few fights, I think a couple of 8-10 round fights then I’d be happy to challenge anyone for anything that came up.
Joe Ham is the Scottish Area champion (although he lost his challenge for the Celtic belt), would you fancy that sort of level or would you rather go straight in with a bigger title?
I’m quite happy to go straight in purely because of my age, I know I don’t really have that long and I would like to just kick on after another couple of fights and try for the bigger fights. I’m not sure if at 34 I still want to be taking punches every other day, working a full time job, I can’t see that happening but if something were to come up, I’m like every other fighter, I dream of a world title but you’ve just got to work towards it and hopefully one day it can materialize, secure me financially for a few years and enable me to do it a bit longer but I can’t see doing a job and boxing AND, potentially, starting a family all at the same time.
When you do retire from fighting would we see you as a trainer, a pundit or would you want to leave the sport behind for good?
Funnily enough one of my amateur coaches has often said he could see me in some capacity after I’ve finished as a fighter and I would love to give back to the Barrhead Amateur Boxing Club and help out there, bring through some young talent from my home town. It gave me so much and there’s plenty of people in Barrhead who go to boxing as a way out from family things, whatever it is, I would love to help out some young boy or girl have a professional career, or even just some amateur titles, to give back to my club that has given me, and still does, give me so much. They’re always watching me, supporting me, asking me questions and have always had my back. They tell me they look up to me and I’m always looking up at them, how strong some of the guys are, it’s a funny circle.
You were on the undercard of Josh Taylor vs Viktor Postol, did you catch that fight?
Me and my coach, and my second, we went out and we had, part of the deal, tickets to see the main event so we stayed and watched it together. It was a great fight and you could really see Josh learning on the job, it was a great fight, for a boxer and a fan to watch, you could see them both thinking and it was a really well matched fight.
I don’t want to get you to say anything controversial but what did you make of the scorecards?
Yeah I thought they were wide, I thought Josh won, don’t get me wrong, but I think Viktor Postol was competitive in every round so I can see, objectively, where some people like you or I would have thought Postol got a round, I can see why other people gave it to Taylor when it was 50-50. I definitely thought once Josh got the knockdown, the championship rounds were all his. I had Josh maybe 115-112, something like that, three rounds but it was a really eachy-peachy fight.
Do you think Josh Taylor is the best fighter in the division?
Oh absolutely, I think when Mikey Garcia moved up earlier in the year you could have said that he was the best but, now he’s back at lightweight, it’s hard not to say Josh is the best in the division.
And I want to end on a random question, if you were a sweet, what sweet would you be?
What sweet, erm, that’s a question.
If it helps I think you’d be a fruit pastille…
A fruit pastille? Ollie, you must be kidding. I tell you what though, I do like a wee kinder Bueno so I reckon that would be a fair shout – I don’t really do sweets but I do like a wee bit of chocolate; not like bars, dairy milk, but, I’ve got to admit, a Bueno is like my cheat food.
Thank you very much Gary, I’ll let you get back on with your holiday – don’t get sunburnt!
No worries Ollie, thank you for the opportunity mate, I’ll speak to you soon.
I don’t quite know how to round up this article, which is odd, but I’ve got to say that Gary, without doubt, is one of the nicest, most personable boxers I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to and there’s not a doubt in my mind that he has all the attributes for a successful career – I’m not quite sure why his nickname is Razor, mind, I think it should be Gary “Bueno” Rae.
A Look at Creed II
By: Kirk Jackson
The trailer for the Creed II released and it appears audiences are ready for round two of the revitalized Rocky series.
This upcoming installment is the sequel to Creed and the eighth installment in the Rocky film series. Creed II is directed by Steven Caple Jr., and written by Sylvester Stallone and Cheo Hodari Coker.
Creed II stars Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, and Wood Harris, all of whom will reprise their roles from previous entries, while Florian Munteanu joins the cast portraying Viktor Drago.
While Creed writer-director and frequent Michael B. Jordan collaborator Ryan Coogler, is not directing the sequel, he serves as an executive producer for this film.
While the Creed embodied elements of the first Rocky movie, the sequel appears to embody elements of Rocky II, Rocky III and Rocky IV.
Through the short montage of clips, it appears to display the ascension of Adonis Creed (played by Michael B. Jordan) as a fighter – more than likely a world champion at this point.
We saw stages of growth, maturity in the first film for Adonis, as he went from young, unproven, undisciplined boxer, aggressively fighting his way to the top of his respective sport and battling to establish separation from his father’s shadow.
In addition to that battle, Adonis was able to piece together meaningful relationships and develop some form of normalcy after initial subjection towards emotional and physical chaos due to his birth father’s indiscretions and untimely death.
Fast-forward towards the sequel, the major theme appears to be one of redemption.
Adonis or ‘Donnie’ proved himself worthy of a fighter and carved his path to the top, but the mission was not quite complete due to the successful title defense from “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (played by Tony Bellew).
At this point, Conlan is probably in jail (as the original storyline projected) and Adonis will battle Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler (played by Andre Ward) for top position in the light heavyweight division.
Adonis is seeking further validation and redemption of sorts, by defeating Wheeler – who bested him in a gym sparring session taking place in the first film, while winning the world titles – in which should silence the critics.
Another key point as far as plot is redemption of sorts for Adonis, as he aims to defeat the son of Ivan Drago (played by Dolph Lundgren), the illegally enhanced powerful athlete responsible for murdering his father in the ring way back in Rocky IV.
Ivan’s son Viktor (played by Florian Munteanu) is fighting for redemption of sorts and perhaps attempting to carve his own path and legacy as did Adonis in the last film.
Other plots to follow are the relationships between Adonis and his adoptive mother and widow of Apollo, Mary Anne Creed (played by Phylicia Rashad) and his love interest Bianca Porter (played by Tessa Thompson). Bianca continues to deal with progressive hearing loss and shares a newborn child with Adonis.
Of course we can’t forget the continued development between Adonis and the titular character from previous films Mr. Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone) himself.
Rocky is the head trainer and a fatherly figure of sorts to Adonis. Rocky is also battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The secondary plotlines extending beyond boxing is in part as why Creed was successful; the problems plaguing the characters of the film are relatable to the audience. Watching the antagonist rise from ultimate underdog status to overcome various obstacles can be inspiring at the very least.
It’s the reason why people gravitate towards the ideal of Rocky or any underdog for that matter.
The sequel for Creed is necessary because there are loose ends that need resolution. However, it would be unfortunate to see Creed travel down the same path as of the earlier installments of the Rocky franchise.
Sequels upon sequels of repetitive plot and unnecessary cinema, repeated themes to ad nauseam.
Creed is a fresh start – albeit borrowing and playing off similar elements in which made the original Rocky successful.
The problems plaguing some of the secondary characters from this continuation of the story and how they interact with Adonis should be compelling theater.
Themes of love, grief, family lineage, pride, history, revenge, growth and develop may all factor into this film.
It’ll be interesting to see how everything unfolds as the son of Apollo Creed and the son of Ivan Drago collide as both characters seek their own version of redemption.
The reunion between Ivan Drago and Rocky Balboa should make for scintillating cinema, as should the interaction between Adonis and Ivan.
Audiences will find out as Creed II is scheduled for release nationwide November 21, 2018.
Former Champion Glen Johnsons Says: Watch Out for Raphael “The Nigerian Hurricane” Akpejiori
By: Ken Hissner
Trained by former IBF World Light Heavyweight Champion Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson, Raphael “The Nigerian Hurricane” Akpejiori who is a Nigerian heavyweight hailing from Lagos, Nigeria will be turning professional in September. As an amateur he is 13-1 with 10 knockouts.
Akpejiori was discovered at a basketball camp in South Africa and awarded a scholarship to play high school basketball at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kansas in 2008. He came to the US as an international student and lived with a host family while attending high school for two years. He received numerous scholarships from Division 1 basketball programs and decided to attend the University of Miami in FL in 2010 where he obtained a bachelor/master’s degree in mechanical engineering.
“In training him for the past six months he has learned a lot. He is a quick learner and has a great work ethic,” said Glen Johnson.
Akpejiori played power forward on the Miami basketball team from 2010-14. He joined the football team as a tight end in 2014 and played one season. After a stint in the Miami Dolphins training camp he was encouraged to pursue the sweet science which he discovered came naturally. He resides in Miami where he is employed in the Facilities Management Department as a Project Coordinator.
Akpejiori signed with Classic Entertainment & Sports because he is convinced that promoter Jimmy Burchfield, Sr. will guide him to a world heavyweight title within five years. His manager is his father Pius. His publicist is George Hanson Jr., a lawyer and boxing writer in Philadelphia who also trains you kids at the Marion Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia. He is from Jamaica. I have to give him credit for making my connection for this article to him.
“Akpejiori stands 6:08 and tips the scales at 260 lbs. He has Nyquil in both hands with a jack hammer jab reminiscent of former heavyweight champion Sonny Liston,” said Hanson.
Now let’s focus on Akepjiori’s trainer the former IBF World Light Heavyweight champion Glen “Road Warrior” Johnson from Jamaica moving to Miami, FL, at age 15. He fought from 1993 to 2015.
Johnson won his first 31 bouts before getting a world title fight in July of 1997 losing to OBF World Middleweight champion Bernard “Exterminator” Hopkins, 31-2-1, by TKO11 in Indio, CA. Johnson hadn’t won a round up until the stoppage. His trainers at that time were Pat Burns and Bobby Baker.
Johnson after losing three in a row bounced back taking the WBC Continental Americas Super Middleweight title in April of 1999. His four bout win streak was stopped losing to Sven Ottke, 16-0, for his IBF World Super Middleweight title in a close fight over 12 rounds. Ottke had an amateur style. He would “touch you” and move around the ring scoring points. He was not a puncher. Another fight I felt that I won,” said Johnson.
Johnson would lose his next three fights before stopping Toks Owoh, 15-1, in London, UK, in September of 2000 for the IBF Inter-Continental Super Middleweight Title. He would return ten months later moving up to light heavyweight winning the WBO Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight Title knocking out Thomas Ulrich, 20-0, in 6 rounds at Berlin, Germany.
Johnson’s up and down career continued losing to contenders Derrick Harmon, 21-2 and Julio Cesar Gonzalez, 31-1 by decision and drawing with Daniel Judah, 17-0-1. In May of 2003 he stopped this streak defeating Eric Harding, 21-2-1, for the vacant USBA Light Heavyweight Title.
The win over Harding got Johnson a vacant IBF World Light heavyweight Title fight drawing with Clinton Woods, 35-2, in November of 2003 in the first of three encounters all in the UK. In February of 2004 in their rematch Johnson defeated Woods for the IBF World Light Heavyweight Title in the UK. “Woods was a tough guy who fed off the fans. When he fought outside of the UK he wasn’t the same fighter. I would have loved to have fought him in the US,” said Johnson.
Johnson would defend his title knocking out the former Middleweight, Super Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion Roy Jones, Jr., 49-2, in 9 rounds in the US in September of 2004. “When I fought Roy Jones he was like my favorite boxer at the time,” said Johnson.
“In Johnson’s next fight he won a split decision over Antonio Tarver for the IBO World Light Heavyweight title in L.A. Six months later he would lose to Tarver in a rematch over 12 rounds in the US. “Tarver was a big light heavyweight. I’m surprised he is still talking about fighting again,” said Johnson. In February of 2006 he won the IBA Light Heavyweight Title defeating Richard Hall, 27-5 in the US.
Johnson in his next fight had his third encounter with Woods losing a split decision in the UK losing his IBF World Light Heavyweight Title. He would go onto a three fight win streak stopping Montell Griffin, 48-6, Fred Moore, 30-6, and Hugo Pineda, 39-3-1, all in the US. “Griffin was good and very tricky,” said Johnson.
Johnson lost to Chad Dawson, 25-0, for the WBC World Light Heavyweight Title in the US. After winning a pair of bouts he lost in a rematch with Dawson in the US. In August of 2010 he lost to IBF World Light Heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud, 20-0, in the US. “He was tough with limited skills but very strong,” said Johnson.
Johnson would come back to stop Allan Green, 29-2. This was a tournament called the “Super 6” in which Andre Ward ended up winning it.
In Johnson’s next fight he would drop back to super middleweight losing a majority decision to Carl Froch, 27-1, in the US for the WBC World Super Middleweight Title. In Johnson’s next fight he lost to Lucian Bute, 29-0, in Quebec, Canada, for his IBF World Super Middleweight Title. “Bute was a decent fighter but better at home”, said Johnson. He would drop his next two fights to Andrzel Fonfara, 21-2, in the US and George Groves, 15-0, in the UK. “Tough and decent but nothing special,” said Johnson.
Johnson ended up his career at 54-21-2 (37) in August of 2015 at age 46. He then would become a trainer. In 2004 Johnson would be voted Boxing Writers Association of American Fighter of the Year. The USA Today and Ring Magazine also voted him Fighter of the Year.
KEN HISSNER: You have fought many good and great fighters in your 77 bout career. Is there one that stands out as the best?
GLEN JOHNSON: Roy Jones, Jr. and Chad Dawson. Roy was very fast. Dawson was an excellent boxer and a moving southpaw, not a puncher.
KEN HISSNER: You fought Bernard Hopkins in one of your first major bouts.
GLEN JOHNSON: He was the first I lost to and he stopped my 31 fight winning streak. I liked Hopkins.
KEN HISSNER: I believe you never fought in the country you were born in Jamaica. Did you ever want to fight there?
GLEN JOHNSON: No, I left there when I was 14 and wasn’t interested in boxing until I started boxing in Miami.
KEN HISSNER: You have fought for many titles, minor and world titles. Did anyone stand out?
GLEN JOHNSON: Winning my world title in my second fight with Clinton Woods.
KEN HISSNER: Are there any fighters you have trained that you would like to mention?
GLEN JOHNSON: I just started training fighters in the last 3 years. I have another prospect named Malik Lewis who is 24 and a featherweight. He had about 20 amateur fights and is a tremendous fighter and very good technically.
KEN HISSNER: Thanks for giving so much back to the many fans and that including myself.
GLEN JOHNSON: Call me back anytime.
Sam Crossed Looking for a Shot on National Television
By: Bryant Romero
Undefeated Crusierweight prospect Sam “The Vanilla Gorilla” Crossed is almost three years into his professional career where he is now (7-0, 5 KOs) as he’s looking to gain more notoriety and land a TV slot on a network in the near future. The 31-year-old from Maryland is realistic about his career and is currently not thinking about world title aspirations, but taking it one fight at a time and looking to improve in each outing. Boxinginsider recently caught up with Sam to talk about his career what finally made him turn pro at the age of 28.
“My buddy of mine started taking me to the gym when I was younger and I went to the gym when I was 14, but I didn’t really do anything because I didn’t take it serious,” said Sam. I just did it just for training and stuff. I got smacked around a little bit from the older kids when I was younger, so it always kind of motivated me to want to beat their ass when I got older. So when I got the opportunity to box, I just stuck with it.”
Sam as an amateur had 25 fights which he says “should have been a lot more but I was with a guy for awhile that wasn’t really helping me out.” He basically trained himself from the amateurs up until his fourth fight as professional. It was Sam’s last amateur bout that convinced him that he will make a run in the professional ranks.
“In my last amateur fight I fought guy that was 6’5 and 230 pounds,” Sam explained to me. “It was a tough fight and it was close but I lost, he definitely beat me and I was like you know I’m not getting any younger, I might as well turn pro and try to make some money at least. We just decided to go for it.”
As a pro, Sam is just looking to set “smaller goals” and not talking to the press about being a world champion just 7 fights into his pro boxing career. He’s right now just enjoying the moment, enjoying the training and the journey while he pushes to getting significant paydays in the future.
“I do smaller goals, I only have 7 pro fights I’m not talking about how I’m going to be world champ. I set smaller goals. I’m not just doing this for money because I really don’t make shit to be honest at this point.” Sam told me.
“Absolutey I want to make money doing it and I want to make a good payday. I just feel like right now I enjoy doing it, I like it. I have a lot of people that are interested in my career and I’m just setting smaller goals at this point, plus I don’t want to regret it when I get older, not going for it,” he said.
Sam and his manager Mike Walters have been able to get by so far without the presence of a promoter. Being that Sam is a significant ticket seller to the cards he fights on, he’s been able to get away with it. But Sam admits that eventually as he gets deeper into his career and keeps winning; it will be tougher to get fights and will eventually have to sign with a promoter.
“I prefer it (without a promoter) to be honest but the only problem is that this last year it was hard for me to get a fight. I think that would be helpful if a promoter came in. Otherwise me and my manager have done a great job for my career, especially for a guy that wasn’t a decorated amateur,” Sam said.
“We sell a lot of tickets; we’ve done a lot so I’m happy with it so far. I think at some point there’s probably going to be a time I will need to sign with a promoter, but right now I think we’re doing great.”
Sam told me that about 90% of people that buy tickets to his fights are people that don’t even follow boxing and that having somebody to follow that they know, keeps them coming back.
The 31-year-old has scored some highlight reel knockouts in his career and in the amateurs he relied on his power, but now with a stronger supporting cast, he is looking to develop into a boxer/puncher.
“I think I have power and I can punch, but there was time I was relying on that,” he told me. So I think I’ve been becoming more of a boxer/puncher based off what my coaches are getting me to do.
“Up until my fourth pro fight I literally just trained myself. It was hard, I was lost and now I train with Jarrett Hurd and his coaches. I’m at the same gym with him. You wouldn’t even recognize me between now and before I started training there. I feel like I’m just getting better too and just getting more comfortable with boxing,” Sam said.
For 2018, Sam’s goals in boxing are simple, be active, get as much fights as possible and maybe even get a TV date this year.
“I want to get two or three more fights this year, possibly get a TV date and just keep moving up and see it where it takes us,” Sam said. “I just want to stay busy and get the right fights and hopefully move towards making some decent money at least. I’m enjoying the ride that’s all it matters.”
Yurik Mamedov Fights for the Yezidi People
By: Bryant Romero
Super lightweight prospect Yurik “DBSBC” Mamedov has a lot to be motivated for when steps into that ring. Not only does he fight for himself his family, but also the Yezidi people. Yurik also goes by the alias of the ‘fighting pride of the Yezidi.’ The Yezidi are a small population of people mostly based in Iraq and for years they have been terrorized by Turkey and now by Isis. Yurik through his boxing wants to bring more awareness to this ongoing issue that has gone underreported with no solution to the problem in sight.
“I am Yezidi myself and since 2012 we have been killed by Isis,” Yurik explained to me. “Because they want to convert us to Islam to become Muslim, they kidnap the women and turn them into sex slaves.
Photo Credit: Yurik Mamedov’s Facebook
“One of my cousins, we don’t know where she is. She could be dead or a sex slave I don’t know. I know that could be my sister. I feel like I need to be a voice for the Yezidi people.
“Through my boxing I can bring awareness to these people, to my people that need help. One of the reasons I step into the ring is to bring awareness to the Yezidi people, which is a genocide and nobody is doing anything,” Yurik said.
The 27-year-old is a well traveled young man and it took awhile for him and his family to get settled at a place they could call home. Yurik was born in Russia, then lived for awhile in Armenia but the situation there was too rough, which forced Yurik and his family to come to Germany where they waited two years to find out if they would get accepted into the country.
After being rejected into Germany, Yurik and his family stayed in Belgium for six months before finally making their way into France in September of 2001.
It was in France where Yurik and his family finally got settled but life wasn’t easy for Yurik while growing up in France. He was different compared to many that lived there, didn’t speak the language originally, and was picked on a lot, which resulted into many street fights.
“I couldn’t be friends with them, so I got into fights a lot and one day I remember one guy pushing me and I just punched him back and he just grabbed me and gave me a kick in my teeth and I lost two teeth,” Yurik said.
“Which still I have, I never put them back because it’s a reminder for why I started boxing.”
Not long after that, Yurik would run into a man that would be the breakthrough he needed to become a boxer.
“Three or four days after, there was this old man that would say hi to me and I thought maybe he knows the city and I could ask him for advice.
“So I ask him ‘do you know where I can find a boxing gym in the city.’ The answer he gave me was ‘I have my own gym and you can come if you want to.’ And this man who I ask is still my coach to this day.
“Everytime I fight I make sure that I get tickets for him to see the fight and be in my corner,” Yurik said.
That man goes by the name of Malek Ikhenach who would take Yurik to and back from the gym everyday to train. Together they formed a strong bond and Yurik began to have success as an amateur winning many fights.
Yurik’s first coach Malek would set up a two week camp in New York with another coach he knew in New York named Simon Bakinde. Being that Yurik was one of the best amateurs from France, he got the experience to train in America and from there realized he wanted to come back to train and see how his boxing career would play out in America.
“He (Malek) introduced me to Simon, so I talk to Simon and I stayed for two weeks and all we did was train and I love the way the people respect boxing. I asked Simon if I could come here and do this and he said ‘sure we just have to find a way to make it happen.’
“So I went back to France for one year and just work and save my money and I found a way to come to the U.S. as a student. I didn’t want to come illegally because all my life I was illegal from Russia to Armenia and I went through so much and I didn’t want to go back to that,” Yurik said.
At the age of only 19 Yurik decided to leave France to begin a new life in America and initially he didn’t get the support he hoped for when he made his decision. While he was winning fights in the amateurs, Yurik didn’t consider himself to be a special talent and even questions himself sometimes of why left France in the first place.
But he took the risk and eventually his family would have a change of heart with his decision to leave. He would compete in the Golden Gloves in New York after just a year of being in the States and he would reach the finals with his father and former coach in attendance as he lost a close decision in the final.
The well traveled 27-year-old is now (10-1, 3 KOs) as a pro and is slowly but surely climbing the rankings of the super lightweight division.
“My next fight will be in August,” he said. “I’m trying to get a bigger name. I want to get as much fights as I can. I want to be busy that is my number 1 goal.
“I want to do stuff at 140 and then gradually move up to 147 and 154 eventually. I feel very strong, my technique is there. It’s all about the right fights and the right time.
“I feel like next year, once I get 15 fights I’m ready for whatever,” Yurik said.
Helen Joseph: “My Goal Is To Be A World Champion”
By: Sean Crose
“Yeah, I prefer being a professional,” Helen Joseph says over the phone. The 15-3-1 women’s bantamweight won the World Boxing Federation Intercontinental Female Bantamweight Title with a win over Elizabeth Anderson last November and is set to face the 13-1 Tyreshia Douglas later this month. There’s more to the New Haven, by way of Nigeria, fighter than just a background in boxing, however. “Karate and kickboxing, too,” she says of her skill set. Right now, though, it’s boxing that’s the woman’s focus. And it’s a focus that thoroughly intense. “I have worked so hard to come to this level today,” she says. “My goal is to be a world champion to be the world’s best.”
Just how determined is the 29 year old known as the “Iron Lady?” She came all the way from Africa to the United States to achieve hr dream. What’s more, Joseph travels from New Haven to New York, not exactly a hop, skip and a jump away, to train. “I train in New York City at my dad’s gym,” she claims. And her home is miles away on the Connecticut shoreline? “Yeah,” she says. “This is where I stay.” Joseph undoubtedly hopes to join other Connecticut notables, such as Marlon Starling, Chad Dawson, John Scully, and the great Willie Pep.
“After this fight,” she says of the impending Douglas bout, “they’re going to give me a chance to have a world title.” Some may say that’s wishful thinking, but Joseph makes it clear that she aims to make a statement when she steps into the ring to face Douglas on the 29th of this month. “I know the way this is going to end,” she says of the bout. “It’s going to shake the world.” Still, Joseph can’t help but feel somewhat avoided. “They don’t want to fight me,” she says of the top names in her weight realm.
So, what does Joseph feel about Douglas, the opponent she’s determined to make mark against? “I know she’s pretty good and she has a lot of fans,” says Joseph. Joseph exudes confidence in the days leading up to the match. “I believe in my God and I believe in myself,” she says. Provided all goes well, Joseph may have more fans who believe in her, as well. It’s hard not to pull for someone who travels so far, who works so hard, to attain a single goal. It may not by easy “to be the world’s best,” but it’s worth keeping in mind that some hungry fighter is always there to fill the top spot.
And that there are few hungrier than Joseph.
Boxing Insider Interview with Mason Cartwright
By: Oliver McManus
Mason Cartwright is a man who shot to fame in the United Kingdom last month after his absolute tear up with Darren Tetley on the undercard of Lee Selby vs Josh Warrington; a performance of a warrior, many had Mason winning but a bruising, battering ninth round saw him stopped with his lip split in half and blood cascading across his face – in hospital he managed to meet Davina McCall (who, for the Americans, hosted the UK version of The Biggest Loser) but, don’t worry, the Chester-born boxer has set his sight on far loftier goals than that and he was good enough to speak to me last week;
I mean, first up, how’s the lip?
Yeah it’s good, it’s healing well, it’s not perfect but it’s getting there and it’s good.
It was quite a nasty injury to look at but, aside from that, was there any lasting damage?
No, well obviously, I haven’t sparred on it yet so I’m not too sure what it’s like to take a shot on it yet but I’ve been back in the gym since – went straight back – and I can still punch bags, do footwork but it’s just, obviously, no contact and I won’t have any contact on it for the next month or so. I’m giving it the time for it to really knit back together.
Like you say it’ll be a month until you get sparring, when realistically can we see you back in the ring?
I definitely want to be back out as soon as possible, everything kicks back off in October time so if I start a serious camp through September – I’m going to be in half-decent shape, anyway, I’ll be in the gym over summer – I want to be back out in October.
Would you be looking to go straight in with a big fight like the Tetley rematch or one fight to get everything out of your system?
I really wouldn’t mind – I want the rematch with Tetley and, as I’ve said, I’m staying in the gym so I’ll be sharp and if they offer me a warm up fight then I’ll take it because there’s no harm in getting in there and shaking the cobwebs off but, equally, if they offered me Tetley then I’d jump at the chance.
And the fight itself was really good – UNTIL it was stopped, how did you feel it was going?
I knew I was winning. I knew I was winning. Even after watching the fight again, I think the first four rounds I won easy – I give the fifth round to Tetley – the sixth round was quite even but the seventh round I had a massive round and I couldn’t miss him and then he couldn’t miss me in the eighth round! So that was a good round for him but I thought the ninth, up until the cut, I thought I got the best of those exchanges. I was confident, my corner was confident, we knew I was up and even in some of the rounds were he was throwing a fair few shots, none of them were landing, I was moving my head and they can’t award non-scoring shots, can they? I knew that, myself, I was winning.
He was your best opponent, do you find that better opponents make you perform better?
Yeah, definitely, I said this throughout the camp in interviews that Darren was adamant that he was the better boxer and I was just a brawler; the reason I have, maybe, brawled in previous fights, is because I didn’t have the calibre of opponent in front of me to make me box and I could just get away with getting stuck in there to dust them up. I knew I was having my own way but, like I said, I have some world class sparring – Jack Catterall, Liam Smith, and I can’t just spar really good opponents and have a tear up with them.
So I do practice and hone my boxing ability and, now, for those that didn’t know, I CAN box because I was out-boxing Tetley and keeping him on the end of my jab, not letting him in, using my feet.
I’m happy I was able to show people that.
Do you think he will want the rematch?
I hope that he is going to want it for himself because if I knew I was losing a fight but ended up getting the decision via an injury stoppage I think I would want to prove to myself that I could beat the person outright but, obviously, it’s a business and he’ll do whatever his team advise him to do. He’ll listen to his team and I, personally, think they’ll advise him not to take it; if I come back in another fight, with him, I’ll be better and I’ll be sharper. It’s the type of person I am.
You turned pro at 22 – it’s quite early – was that always the plan?
Yeah I wanted to be a boxer my whole life, even through the amateurs. I’ll be honest when I say I messed about a little bit through the amateurs when I was l between the ages of 13 and 16 – I was boxing because I loved boxing but I was still being a teenager at the time.
When I got to 17, 18, 19, I thought, “do you know what, I’m going to give this a good go because I wouldn’t mind doing it for the rest of my life”. At the age of 18 I had a torn labrum and I had an operation, two years out of the ring, I came back at 21 and wanted one more year before turning pro.
And in that time out was there ever a point where you thought about packing it all in?
… By that point I had already told myself that being a boxer is what I was going to do and I’m the sort of person that once I say something, I’m doing it and I’m doing it with every bit of ambition.
I’ve got a little bit of, like, OCD so when I’m doing something or I tell myself I’m going to do it then I do it properly. I can’t cut corners or anything like that, I can’t cheat, I have to do it so I’m fully committed and accomplished.
I’ve seen you say before that you want to win the British belt, is that still the immediate target?
Yeah, of course, I’d be sitting here lying if I said I didn’t want to win a world title but I’m realistic with my ambitions – the world title is the crème de la crème – and I’ll get there in time but I want to prove myself at British level first.
There’s some amazing domestic fights out there, Darren Tetely is only one of the options and you probably could have put the British title on that…
… or the English seeing as that was vacant…
And obviously there’s other class domestic fighters which will produce incredible fights so that’s what I’ll chase first of all, take it step by step, keep working hard and hopefully the dream of becoming world champion will come true.
In the last three and a half years, then, what is the most important thing that you have learnt about boxing and about yourself?
That I can overcome anything, mentally. I have the strongest mental power anyone has ever seen – and that’s according to over people. If I’m doing something, if I say I’m doing something then I don’t care how I’m getting there but I WILL get there. Any situation possible, I will do it.
Obviously as a boxer you need to be good but how important is it to be mentally strong, too?
Of course because at some point in every boxers career you will get hurt. You will get caught with a shot, whether it’s to the head, to the body, whether it’s a cut. You will get hurt but you can’t give up and we’ve seen many boxers, over the years, spew it and just pack it in.
I could name you 10 boxers who have done it in the last year – I’m not going to because I don’t want to slag anyone off – but I will never quit.
I will never, never, ever, ever quit.
Obviously you’re signed to Frank Warren, how big is it for you to be able to fight on TV shows?
Well I always do well on ticket sales – 200, 300 people always coming and that’s really good for me because it means vocal support and obviously boxing is about putting bums on seats and before the Tetley fight not many people had seen me, or knew about me, unless, of course, they had been to one of my shows but all them people who had gone to see me in a fight would message me saying how impressed they were and after this fight I’ve probably had about 2,000 people say on Twitter and everything that they enjoy my style and can’t wait to see me box again.
For me that’s humbling because that’s my goal, I want people to see me fight and think “wow, this guy can fight”. How people feel when they watched Miguel Cotto, inside fighters who get to work and always keep watching.
From a style point of view it is everything that fans want, does a set style add extra pressure?
I just go out and do my thing and if anything I perform even better under pressure because it adds the extra edge to me.
Looking at the 12-18 months, what can we expect? We looking at titles, building the profile?
Either, or. I’ve got no set plan, I’ll just take down what’s in front of me. If I got offered the British title I’d take it, if I got offered the Tetley rematch I’d take it. There isn’t anyone I wouldn’t fight, I’m not here to avoid people, I want to test myself and show everyone how good I am.
When people here my name I want them to say, “yes, he’s a guy to watch”.
If Terrence Crawford rang you up later today and offered the fight, would you take it?
If the money was right, yes. If the money was right.
Boxing Insider Interview with Jumaane Camero
By: Oliver McManus
Jumaane Camero is a guy who despite being Southern Area champion has seemed to fly under the radar within the boxing community and he himself says he is “a pretty boring character” but, trust me, he isn’t – he’s an absolute gem of a human being.
He was meant to fight on June 9th against Michael Devine in an English title eliminator, this was then pushed back a week so it could appear on Dave (UK TV) as part of Haymaker’s Joe Joyce card – unfortunately a week beforehand and a week after this interview, Devine wasn’t allowed to fight by the BBBofC due to issues with his medical.
Thankfully we didn’t devote too much time to that fight so I’ve only had to edit out one question but as you can see from the first thing we talk about, Camero knows the difficulties of finding an opponent all too well;
This (the fight) was doubling up as a Southern Area defence as well as an eliminator for the English title, has it been hard to find opponents that want to get in the ring with you?
It has been a nightmare! I won it in July 2017 and only now, almost a year later, I’m defending it. I had multiple fights fall through near the end of 2017. No mandatory defences were called and I was deemed too inexperienced to fight for an English. I was literally just waiting for something to pop up. But like they say it’s better late than never! Let’s hope he doesn’t now pull out!
I feel that people felt I was too much of an unknown quantity to risk a fight with me this early. It’s not important to me however, because I have what I want now, progressing towards a British Title.
That English belt is held by Myron Mills, belt aside, is that a fight that you’re interested in?
Myron Mills seems to really be proving himself, that is definitely a fight I would look forward to having and I believe a fight which British fighters need in order to move to the next level.
I truly think it would be very competitive and it would initiate improvement for us both to move onwards to better opportunities. This progress would start once the fight is made as we would train harder than before to come out on top and that’s the pressure you need in each camp. Pressure creates diamonds!
If we go back to your fight with Freddy Kiwitt in February, he himself was a late replacement for John O’Donnell and then you were the replacement opponent for Kiwitt – what goes through your mind when you take a fight on short notice?
It was quite funny, the moment I got a call I was with my nieces stuffing my face with pizza so the only thought going through my head was ‘I wonder how much I weigh right now’.
The call came the day before weigh so there wasn’t really any time to think about anything even if I wanted to. It was a good to get experience being under the lights of a show such as Hayemaker.
Looking back, you narrowly lost, do you regret taking that fight?
My last two fights have been nothing but fillers until I could finally get a southern area defence or push on to challenge for an English. The risk-reward of the Kiwitt fight meant if I won the board would have to put me towards an English title fight sooner. Losing meant nothing, I kept my area title and got decent exposure.
People still can’t believe I make lightweight or think I struggle to make it. I personally don’t actually know how I do it other than being very strict. It’s hard to stay disciplined but the weight itself is never a struggle.
And people often say you learn the most from your losses, have you found that to be true?
It is really hard to say but I feel I learned very little from that fight if I am honest. In order to learn you need to be drilling something to a point where you can use it in an active environment.
Knowing where you deviated and why and working on those areas so you can execute how and when you want. If I was hitting a hundred tennis forehands but didn’t see where they landed you can’t hope for it to improve because the stroke you’re repeating could be going out or into the net, this ignorance leads to zero improvements
I didn’t perform great but fortunately he had no idea how to deal with my style so I got away it (haha).
For you then what’s been your best performance as a pro – would you say the fight against Birmingham?
I would actually say my best performance came four weeks prior to the Birmingham fight. It was meant to be an 8 round British challenge belt but last minute the fight fell through and I got a well-seasoned journeyman to do 8 rounds with. I structurally felt good landing with a plethora of shots and kept as elusive as possible. It just felt like a performance where things were coming together.
You are still only 23, how long can we expect to see you around in the boxing scene for?
Thanks for reminding me my best years are behind me.
Nah just kidding!! But truthfully, not long at all, I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long already. I really don’t want to overstay my time in boxing which is a reason I’m pushing for fights earlier than you may expect from a person of my age but more importantly my experience.
That fight on the 15th was on the undercard to a Joe Joyce fight, what have you made of him so far?
He seems to completely decimate anyone in front of him. You can’t do anything but give him props whether you like his style or not. I love his punch output, SO many heavy hard punches.
If I had any criticism it would be that he seems very slow, especially considering he can perform such great athletic feats. You’d think he’d be more explosive. But what he’s doing works and people cannot live with it so why change it?
Because it’s not aesthetically pleasing?
Depends what his goals are and I think it’s to grab as many titles as he can, not to crowd please. Plus it’s exciting enough that he’s stopping all his opponents.
I do want to ask about referees, when you find out the referee is there anything you look to adjust in your game plan? Because obviously some referees are more eager to break up action than others?
This is a great question, everyone knows how opinionated boxing can be and also why there are such deviations on some fights.
When I go into a fight usually I will have a few different styles and game plans, each depending on what the opponent gives me and also how the ref reacts. I wouldn’t say I solely change my game plan if I know a certain ref is there but I do have to be versatile enough to see when something else will be more effective.
In my division if a referee was break us early it would probably favour me because of my freakishly long limbs and height.
That’s the boxing questions over with then mate but I was shocked to hear you say you’re a boring person so I’ve got a couple of quick-fire questions – what do you do in your spare time?
You will either find me eating more than I should be able to consume, sleeping, reading or traveling.
I have spurts where I get really into a game on PS4 but a lot of the time my patience doesn’t make it past the update screen.
I do like to write down things I’ve never experienced and attempt to work towards making time to learn a skill to allow me to achieve it.
This is truly dependent on how I feel at any given moment. I am really into soulful house, I can listen to it in most moods.
But I could start my day listening to heavy EDM and end it with obscure classical music.
Favourite type of doughnut?
Be right Bake donuts, I can change the filling to match my desires and there donuts themselves are so delicious. I always have a pack after I fight.
Give them a follow on social media!
Instagram :- @berightbake
Facebook :- be right bake
Last film you watched?
Pirates of the Caribbean, my friend and I had the theme tune stuck in our head after listening to a street concert orchestra play it. So we decided to watch one of the films – easily influenced!
And there we are then Jumaane, thanks for taking the time out to speak to us mate!
That was Jumaane Camero, Southern Area lightweight title holder, 6 and 2 as a professional boxer looking to make a big statement in a short amount of time – his attitude is right, the talent is there and, by all accounts, he is one of the nicest men in boxing; keep an eye out!
Ava Knight to Return After Two Years Away
By: Bryant Romero
Ava “Lady of Boxing” Knight is making her long awaited return to boxing on July 21 in Memphis, Tennessee. The former world flyweight champion is hungry to get back in the in the ring after a more than a two year absence. Knight (14-2-4, 5 KOs) has rediscovered her love for the sport, wants to remain active, and to become a world champion again. Boxinginsider recently caught up with the ‘Lady of Boxing’ as she gave her thoughts on the current state of women’s boxing, how she accidentally got into the sport while growing up in Chico, California, and what has she been doing since her two year hiatus from boxing.
“I stared boxing at 13. It kind of was just an accident,” Ava told me. “My girlfriend was just like ‘let’s go to the gym and I’m like ‘okay.
“I had never seen a boxing match in my life, I had never fought. I wasn’t bullied, so it was just a new experience and I fell in love with it and I started taking classes.
“Nobody thought I was going to make it, so I came in and sparred my friend about a few months after we started and she knock me down and I couldn’t stop laughing. After that moment I just fell in love with it,” Ava said.
Ava is an 11 year veteran of the fight game and she’s definitely noticed that women’s boxing is becoming more acceptable compared to when she first turn pro back in 2007. Seeing the likes of Clarissa Shields and Cecilia Brækhus on headlining cards in the states gives her feelings of joy and motivates her to perhaps one day be on a big significant card herself in the future.
“It’s becoming more acceptable to men,” Ava said. “Now that we are seeing women fighting in MMA because I think before they didn’t want to see two women hitting each other.
“Well now people are now watching two women bash their heads in an octagon. Why can’t we box? Why can’t we be a little classier and have some rules? And hit each other with bigger gloves on.
“So I think now it’s just becoming a different attitude about it with younger people coming into the game. I feel like you can’t ignore it anymore, you can’t put these women who put their whole live into winning gold medals on the back burner anymore.
“Because girls like me who won world titles, nobody cares about us. But now with a whole Olympic sport it’s different,” Ava explained.
Ava couldn’t be happier with the progress women’s boxing has made over the past decade and insists there are no hard feelings towards the women in boxing that are receiving a lot of attention in the public.
“It makes me feel happy. There is no ounce of jealousy in me. I’ve been doing this for so long,” Ava told me. “I’ve been a professional for 11 years and there’s no part of me that wishes it was me.
“O f course I would love to start doing that, getting back in the ring and doing that again. But I’m so excited to see that women are doing it, women are making it, women are making money, they are headlining, they deserve it,” Ava said.
When it comes to Ava’s career, she is looking get active again, though she has had spurts of inactivity throughout her career. In the beginning of her pro career, it was very difficult finding opponents, which led to the inactivity and also sometimes not even being offered prize money to compete. However, when it comes to her recent hiatus she took an opportunity she couldn’t turn down, which actually helped regain her love for the sport.
“The last two years I had an amazing opportunity to travel the world and personally train Joe Jonas,” she said. “I got him ready for this huge photo shoot he had and it was amazing. I would never take that back to go win another title.
“Because everything that goes into boxing is legit, it’s a full time job and you’re taking that job home every day. That personally had to do with my last two years. I was excited to travel the world and doing something else and fall back in love with it now,” Ava said.
Ava moved to Las Vegas four years ago where she met Floyd Mayweather and is now a Mayweather promoted fighter and regularly trains at the Mayweather boxing club. Now that she’s looking to active in the ring again, she mentioned a few rivals in her division that she’s sees as significant fights in the future.
“In the future I would love to see the girls in my weight class step up their game a little more,” Ava told me. “Their kind of grooming their way up, but there a lot of girls in the flyweight division that are coming up.
“There’s Tyrieshia Douglas (13-1, 6 KOs) I think she’s amazing. Out of everybody in that weight class if they haven’t fought each other, they’d have a hard time with her.
“Seniesa Estrada (13-0, 3 KOs) is doing great, she’s just got signed to Golden Boy.
“They (Golden Boy) have Marlen Esparza (5-0, 1 KO) and we have a feud since the last six years talking shit to each other.
“There are a few other girls too and they’re all doing great. They’re all well groomed, amateur careers, they all went to tournaments and probably have close to 100 fights if not more.
“I didn’t have that, so I would love to get in the ring with these girls and show them that’s not what makes you,” Ava said.