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August 7, 2014
August 7, 2014
Martin Murray Press Conference

Boxing - Martin Murray Press Conference - Langtree Park - 18/12/13 Martin Murray during the press conference Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Lee Smith Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

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SOUTH AFRICAN promotional consortium Golden Gloves has produced over 50 ‘world’ champions throughout its near 40-year association with the sport and today it is thriving in the glamorous surroundings of Monte Carlo with St Helens’ world title-chasing Martin Murray and Hekkie Budler – Johannesburg’s diminutive WBA strawweight title-holder – bringing the Sweet Science to the principality.

Rodney Berman, the company’s veteran figurehead and visionary, first ventured into professional boxing promotion when the “Silver Assassin” Charlie Weir knocked out Bushy Bester at Wembley Ice Rink in Johannesburg on August 29, 1977, beginning a long and illustrious association with the game.

In 1987, Berman travelled to America to lobby then-IBF President Bobby Lee, and he became the first promoter from South Africa to work with the governing body, leading to names such as Welcome Ncita, Vuyani Bungu, Phillip Holiday, Brian Mitchell and Lehlo Ledwaba holding IBF world titles.

Don King once said of Berman: “Rodney’s pilot light has guided South African boxing to lush and nourishing pastures that have nurtured this nation of boxing-loving people.”

Today, he continues to chase world championship glory for his fighters and Englishman Martin Murray is the latest in a long line of boxers who have benefitted from Berman’s promotional vision, having taken the middleweight contender from the brink of boxing obscurity to the bright lights and glamour of Monaco.

Following two close defeats in world title challenges to Felix Sturm and Sergio Martinez in 2011 and 2013 respectively, Murray easily outclassed Ishmael Tetteh on his debut for Golden Gloves in April of this year and then scored a lopsided decision over former European champion Max Bursak in June to capture the WBC Silver title.

On October 25, Murray will face Italian Domenico Spada at the Salle des Etoiles, Monaco, in defence of his Silver belt as he continues to chase his world title dream, while the always exciting WBA 105lbs boss Hekkie Budler will face China’s former WBC champion Xiong Zhao Zhong.

Boxing News caught up with the veteran promoter to discuss his European adventure and the futures of Murray and Budler.

Boxing News: Are you happy with the way your promotions in Monaco have been received by the people of the principality and boxing fans in general?

Rodney Berman: Monaco has exceeded our wildest expectations. It has a special magic and I receive calls all the time from fighters wanting to feature on a card there. We initially had a three-year plan to establish Monte Carlo as one of the boxing capitals of the world, but we have achieved this in a little over a year.

BN: After almost 40 years as a promoter, what are your favourite memories?

RB: My favourite moments in boxing… when Vuyani Bungu caused one of the biggest upsets of the year when he beat Kennedy McKinney for the IBF title in 1994. Sugar Boy Malinga’s victory over Nigel Benn was incredible and “Sugar” Shane Mosley, whom we co-promoted with Cedric Kushner, beating Oscar De La Hoya. And then, what must rank as two of the biggest upsets in the heavyweight division, Corrie Sanders stopping Wladimir Klitschko and Hasim Rahman knocking out Lennox Lewis.

BN: Does promoting in Monte Carlo bring any differences to promoting in South Africa?

RB: The most refreshing thing is the nostalgia that Monaco brings to a card. Both men and women really dress up to the nines and even Martin Murray commented on how well dressed the ‘Barmy Army’ were when in Monaco!

BN: Speaking of Martin Murray, he seems to be really happy to be boxing again on a regular basis. Are you happy with the way he has performed since joining forces with Golden Gloves in April?

RB: Martin’s rustiness was apparent in April when he boxed in South Africa, but there was a vast improvement against Max Bursak. The reality is that Murray is a world-class act in preparation for a world title opportunity with the WBC, and he will only get better.

BN: You mentioned the WBC, that Murray holds a high ranking with after capturing the organisation’s Silver title. Will you be actively seeking a fight with WBC champion Miguel Cotto?

RB: My understanding is that Cotto will eventually move down to his true weight [154lbs] which would leave the WBC to decide whether to install [Marco Antonio] Rubio as champion or to mandate the No. 1 contender [Murray] to fight Rubio for the title. Either way Murray is assured of a title chance in 2015.

BN: Do you think that Martin’s troubles with obtaining a US Visa will ultimately prevent that fight [with Cotto] from happening?

RB: Unfortunately yes, and this is very sad because Martin has paid his dues and is truly a credit and role model to the sport as well as being a gentleman.

BN: Gennady Golovkin [WBA middleweight champion] is the most feared fighter on the planet at the moment and he cemented that status with a crushing stoppage victory over former world champion Daniel Geale recently. Would you take that fight for Martin if it made financial sense?

RB: We were in fact tentatively offered a fight with Golovkin, possibly in Germany, in the fall. I enjoy a great relationship with Tom Loeffler (K2 promotions), who is one of the gentlemen of boxing, and I have no doubt that Murray would have been handsomely reimbursed. However, as I explained earlier, we will wait for Murray to secure the WBC title and then hopefully look to make a unification bout with Golovkin in the UK.

BN: Firstly Martin faces Italian Domenico Spada on October 25 in defence of his Silver title. How do you rate Spada and will he present any problems for Murray?

RB: The reality of the situation is that we made substantial offers to both Rubio and Sam Soliman [IBF champion] but they both declined the fight. I understand their reasoning because, like everyone, they are standing in a queue waiting for phantom mega fights with Cotto or Golovkin. Spada is hopefully a ‘keep busy’ fight for Martin, pending a world title shot. Having said that, Spada went 10 rounds with Rubio for the Interim WBC title, and lost a decision to Darren Barker who went on to beat Daniel Geale for the IBF title. This will not be an easy fight for Murray despite people knocking the opponent.

BN: Moving on to Hekkie Budler, he scored an exciting KO victory over dangerous veteran Pigmy Kokietgym in June. You must be pleased with the way he is boxing right now?

RB: Hekkie’s progress has been nothing short of spectacular. He started out as a run of the mill champion, but since working with strength and conditioning coach, Colin Nathan, he has become one of the most feared and exciting champions in the strawweight division. I believe other champions will duck him, depriving him of the opportunity he richly deserves, to unify the division.

BN: His win over rival Nkosinathi Joyi last year elevated him to the upper echelons of the 105lbs division with fans hoping a showdown with Katsunari Takayama [IBF champion who meets WBO champion Francisco Rodriguez Jnr on August 9 in a rare unification match] can settle who the divisional No. 1 is. Is that a fight you are trying to secure?

RB: Takayama actually called out Budler some time back. We made him a great offer but as expected, talk is cheap and he opted to take another fight.

BN: Hekkie faces Xiong Zhao Zhong in October. How do you rate the former WBC champion?

RB: From my earlier comments you will realise the difficulty we are having in matching Budler. Even Wanheng Menayothin [35-0 fighter from Thailand] declined to fight Hekkie. So Zhong was chosen strategically, being as he is a former world champion. We are expecting another electrifying display from Hekkie, showing how much more superior he is to a former champion.

BN: As is the case with all of the lower weight classes, strawweight suffers from a lack of fan attention, except from the hardcore, despite delivering exciting contests. Do you think Budler could move up in weight to light-flyweight or are you happy showcasing him at 105lbs?

RB: We will keep Budler at 105. That is his true fighting weight and I have no doubt, just as Michael Carbajal was a superstar in the lower divisions, so will Hekkie with the flamboyance, power and excitement he brings to the ring.

BN: Ali Raymi [unbeaten strawweight from Yemen with a 21-0 record, all by first-round KO) has been very active on Twitter calling out everyone and anyone recently. Most fans view him as nothing more than a side show, but would you consider him a viable opponent for Budler?

RB: We regard Ali Raymi as a joke. His record is totally false; you just need to look at his opponents! He is 40 years old and ranked in the lower 20s of the WBC, whereas Budler is looking for mega fights.

August 7, 2014
August 7, 2014
Gavin

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Frankie Gavin stepped into the ring on August 1 to face his toughest test to date. The skilful southpaw stepped up to take on the experienced European champion Leonard Bundu. The fight turned into a war and a knockdown in round six proved to be the decider in a fight which ended in a split decision in Bundu’s favour.

After suffering your first defeat how long are you going to take off before getting back into the gym?
I spoke to [promoter] Frank [Warren], hopefully I’ll be back in the gym within a week or two. I’ve got two fights in my contract before the end of the year, and I want to fulfil them. It’s not like [Leonard] Bundu beat me up or knocked me out, there was a little cut that seems to be nearly healed already. So I’ll be ready to go full steam ahead next week.

Have you watched the fight back? If so, what do you think of the decision?
Yeah, I still think I won. I landed the cleaner shots for sure, but I can also see with his aggression why the judges edged him. It was a good fight, but in the end I believe in my heart of hearts I won it.

How significant do you think the knockdown was? And how much did it take to get up from that?
I don’t like losing; I did not see it coming. It caught me right. It put me down, but as I’ve said before you’ll have to knock me out cold to keep me down. I proved that. I got hit with a s*** body punch and I got up, my will to win is just too big, I love winning. I did everything I could to win, but sadly it was not enough on the night.

How, if at all, will you change your training set-up following this setback?
I’ve signed with Matchroom and I’ve sacked my trainer… [Laughs] No, I have not really. What my coach [Tom Chaney] told me was right, what lost me the fight was that I was on the ropes too much. To be honest that was the game plan before the fight, to stay off the ropes. But in rounds six, 10 and 11, I stayed on the ropes too much. But you learn from these mistakes, and I will do.

Kell Brook sent you a supportive tweet in the wake of the defeat, did you see it and what did you make of it?
It was very nice, very nice of him. Look, when I said [Shawn] Porter would beat [Brook], it’s not that I want him to beat Brook. I want Brook to take his head off. I want Brook to win easily. All I was saying was, if I was a betting man I would pick Porter. It’s not a straightforward fight for Porter though. I was not trying to have a dig or insult Kell. It was just my opinion.

In contrast, Amir Khan was critical off you following the defeat; what do you make of that?
It shows what he is. It really does. I’ve known him since I was 15 or 16, and I have never said a bad word about him. I never once put him down. Not when he got knocked out. Not once. The only difference between us is when I got knocked down I got back up; he did not.

What impressed you about Leonard Bundu and did he exceed your expectations?
No he did not. Look, he is a good fighter. I would say he is above European level. No one can say he is better than me. The fight could have gone either way. He is not better than me. I never got outclassed. There are a few critics saying I am a British-level fighter. I am above that. I’ve beaten all the British-level fighters. I proved I’m at European level at least. I hung in there, and on another day the fight could have gone my way. [Bundu] has had other fights at that level. That was my first one. I can only get better.
How much did the cut in the seventh affect you going into the later rounds of the fight?
It was affecting my eye. No excuses though, he cut me. I thought it was from a clash of heads. It was ruled a punch. Maybe it was a punch. At the end of the day it’s one of those things, you’re boxing. You get cut, you get cut. You get on with it, that’s boxing.

What do you make of Bundu’s financial demands for a rematch?
It sounds like he does not want it. I am here, if he wants it, I am here. It can be done. Although I think he has got a good enough backing to get a [world] title shot. If he can’t then I am here, let’s do it and he can get a decent pay-off.

Is going down to light-welterweight something you have considered and how would that change your style?
I have not even thought about it. I am not going to think about it. Look at the weigh-in, look at me to Bundu. I’m a fully-fledged welterweight.

At which level do you see your immediate future?
I want to come back at European title level. Or a rematch with Bundu, that’s what I want. I also heard Bradley Skeete wants it now. If that is my mandatory for the British title then so be it. I will take care of business there and then I will go back up to European level.

If Bundu vacates to chase a world title shot, could you see you and Lee Purdy fighting for the European title?
Purdy does not deserve to be back in there. He has been out all this time. He lost to [Devon] Alexander, he lost to Bundu and he lost to Colin Lynes. I think there are more deserving British and European fighters out there. But if that is the case I will fight him no problem. I don’t think he deserves it though, he did not deserve his last European shot, and he did not deserve his world title shot. He is not even in the top three in Britain. But as I said, I will fight him no problem.

Colin Lynes has also expressed an interest in fighting you, would you consider that fight and how would it pan out?
[Laughs] Colin Lynes is an idiot! Bradley Skeete annihilated him in his last fight. He can talk a good fight. But we all know his best days are far behind him. He does not like southpaws. He can talk a good fight because he likes a payday. If Frank [Warren] says to do it, I will. Apart from that I have absolutely no interest in Colin Lynes.

 

 

 

 

 

August 7, 2014
August 7, 2014
Henry Cooper

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Members of the London Ex-Boxers Association agreed they would like to raise funds to erect a statue to Sir Henry Cooper, in recognition not only for what he has achieved in boxing but also for the great contribution he made to many to charities and as an example to young people.

Cooper, who died in 2011, was one of Britain’s most loved sporting heroes.

LEBA Treasurer Ray Caulfield has worked hard over the last two years to raise half of the costs for the statue and now LEBA Member Scott Ewing has arranged a tribute dinner to honour Sir Henry at the London Hilton in Park Lane on September 12 to help raise the other half and it promises to be a great evening where British sporting royalty will be present.

For ticket information contact Scott Ewing 07710 515 895 or Ray Caulfield 07970 140 680.

August 7, 2014
August 7, 2014
Israel V

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Mexican warrior Israel Vazquez, with his thrillingly unforgettable rivalry with another Mexican great in Rafael Marquez, more than earned his place alongside the special fighters his homeland has produced over the years. The two fierce yet respectful rivals gave fans everything they had in three of the four breathtaking battles they engaged in.

It is due to the skill, guts and brains he displayed in these wars that Vazquez is best known, yet “Magnifico,” who retired with a 44-5(32) record in May of 2010, took part in a number of other memorable encounters. The super-bantamweight turned pro in 1995 and, like most Mexican fighters, he was moved fast; being matched with future world champion Oscar Larios in just his 13th pro bout. Larios – yet another Mexican star from the conveyer belt of champions that special fighting country has given us – was sporting a 20-0 record, and after the initial fight, won by Vazquez via first-round knockout, another rivalry was born.

“The first time I fought Oscar Larios, I was given just a week’s notice before the fight,” 36-year-old Vazquez says from his recently opened gym, “Magnifico Boxing Gym” in South Gate, California.

“I had just fought Eric Lopez (w rsf 3) and then I was told I’d be fighting next Saturday and that was the shortest recovery period I’d ever had after a fight. I didn’t even know who I was fighting but it became one of my best moments. I saw Larios that night and I knew I had to give it my best. I noticed that my punches spun him and wobbled him when I hit him, so I went at him hard. I realised that night that I had stopped an unbeaten fighter, and that was very big for me. That win put me in the WBC top-10 at super-bantamweight.”

Vasquez enjoyed an active 1997 (four wins) and 1998 (six wins) before being set back a little by a 12-round split decision loss to Marcos Licona in ‘99. Bouncing back with a dozen victories, including an NABF super-bantam title win over Don Don Concepcion in January of 2001 (TKO3), Vazquez was closing in on his first world title shot. When it came, in May of 2002, Vazquez once again found himself squaring up with Larios – even though Oscar was brought in as a replacement foe for the fight that would contest the interim WBC belt.

“The second fight [with Larios], I had been training at Big Bear, I had six weeks of good preparation for Willie Jorrin, a fighter who had much shorter arms [than Larios],” Vazquez, who talks well despite the brutality of his career, explains.

“Willie unfortunately injured his leg so instead I fought Larios, who was ranked WBC number-7 and I was WBC number-1. So I had been training for a totally different style, but that’s no excuse. Larios had very good leg movement [that night] and he hit me hard and I suffered blurred vision. He knocked me down and when I got up I still had blurred vision and we were now one and one.”

After suffering the 12th-round TKO loss at the hands of Larios, Vazquez reeled off three straight wins before being rewarded with another title crack; this time the vacant IBF super-bantam belt. The win that followed and the realising of a lifelong dream still means the world to the fighter who was born on Christmas day in 1977.

“I was coming off the loss to Oscar Larios so to have got another world title opportunity was a huge thing for me, a huge opportunity. I knew I had to go and get it, to give my all. I always gave me best, every singe time I fought, but it was a dream of mine to become a world champion and I accomplished that. During the fight with Jose Luis Valbuena (a 24-2-1 southpaw from Venezuela who Vazquez stopped in the 12th-round) every word Freddie Roach and Justine Fortune were telling me in the corner, I was listening to. It was a great thing for me, to knockout a fighter who had never been stopped before. It’s impossible to put that win into words really, but if I had to rate that special moment in my life on a scale of 1 to 100, I’d give it 101!”

Now a world ruler, Vazquez retained his IBF prize twice, before vacating and going after old foe Larios and his WBC crown. The rubber-match took place in December of 2005.

“The third fight with Oscar Larios, that was one of my most satisfying victories. For the third fight, I was properly prepared and for the first time I really knew what I was in for. I was ready for him this time. With that win (3rd-round TKO) I added The Ring Magazine title to my WBC title.”

Vazquez had won the series with a win that came about due to a badly cut eye suffered by Larios and, after an up from the floor win over Jhonny Gonzalez  – “Jhonny is up there with the toughest guys I fought. He knocked me down twice before I came back to get the (10th-round stoppage) win. Jhonny gave me a very tough fight.” –  it was on to his most famous ring rivalry. Enter Rafael Marquez.

Stopped in the first encounter when a broken nose forced him to remain on his stool after the 7th-round in March of 2007, Vazquez came back with a vengeance five months later.

“Rafael Marquez was very tough, no doubt about it. He was a great fighter. Of our four fights, I’d have to say the second fight (Vasquez w rsf 6) means the most to me today – first of all, because I got my title back, which I felt belonged to me (laughs), and secondly, because I’d lost due to a broken nose in the first fight and I wanted to come back and prove what I could do. I came back and proved I was stronger than ever. I did my job.”

The third war (all three contesting the WBC title) came one year and two days after the first bruising showdown. This time the three judges were needed and Vazquez prevailed via a blisteringly hard-fought 12-round split decision. But he had paid a price, his eye needing multiple surgeries for a torn retina. It would be some 20-months before Vasquez fought again. When he did, and after a comeback win over Angel Antonio Priolo (WKO9), Vazquez received a career-high payday of $800,000 for a fourth battle with Marquez.

By now past his best, his eye never fully recovering from the punishment it took in the first three slugfests with the rival he had traded leather and knockdowns with, Vazquez was beaten with some ease, losing the clash that contested the vacant WBC Silver title inside just three-rounds. Still, Vazquez – who could have walked away having won a trilogy with Marquez – has no regrets about taking the May 2010 fight.

“I have no regrets about taking the fourth fight. Yes, I suffered a cut [eye], but I suffered the same cut in the second fight but I came back and stopped him that time. So I could maybe have done that in the fourth fight, but Marquez got me first. I have no regrets at all about my career and I wouldn’t change a thing. The reason is, if things had been different, I wouldn’t be the man I am today.”

Today Vazquez is a well respected former champion who owns and runs his own gym. A man who constantly sets himself goals, “Magnifico” now aims to become a trainer of champions.

“Today I have my own gym and I’m a man who loves challenges, and now I want to accomplish a new goal: I want to become a world class trainer, and work the corner in big fights. I have the knowledge, the technique and the passion. I am training young fighters right now and I am working towards getting that first world champion. I have no idea how long it will take, but right now I am working on getting that first champion.”

Israel encountered a wholly different task this past June; that of keeping his cool when a famous singer from his homeland took it upon himself to deface Vazquez’ prized WBC belt. At a charity rodeo in California, Vazquez got talking to Larry Hernandez, a celebrity who felt he was a “bad ass.”

Despite telling the singer three times not to sign his green belt, Hernandez ignored the man who spilt blood to earn the championship strap. Vazquez was naturally furious when Hernandez scrawled his name across his prized possession.

“He asked me three times if he could sign it,” Vazquez says angrily. “And three times I told him not to. Then he grabbed my belt and signed it. He told me he is a ‘bad ass.’ Since that day, people have asked me why I didn’t punch him. But I was there as an ambassador for the WBC, I am a better person than that [hitting Hernandez].”

The incident drew much media attention throughout Mexico, attention Vazquez could have done without. Still, though Hernandez failed to respect Vazquez, fight fans the world over have more class.  And on the subject of how he would like to be remembered for his terrific fighting career, Vazquez says it means a lot to him that the fans remember him as a great fighter.

“During my career, it was another dream of mine to become the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound, and I feel I came close to doing that. Now, I really want the fans to remember me as one of the greatest fighters. That means a lot to me. I feel those moments from my life, when I was fighting, were beautiful things to remember. Those fights are my legacy in a way, for my kids and my family to look at. I want to be immortalized and to be remembered as a legend. I do think about going into The Hall of Fame one day, and it would be a real honour to be inducted. But if I don’t make it in, it doesn’t matter; as long as Rafael Marquez makes it in!”

August 7, 2014
August 7, 2014
Scott-Fitzgerald

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BEFORE THE WEIGH-IN

ON the first day the weigh-in is longer than usual. You get two hours because they’ve got to get loads of people through. It’s seven until nine am. After that, this week at the Commonwealth Games, it’s been eight until nine am. It’s been quite late. It’s normally earlier than that at some of the majors.

The routine starts weeks before, bringing the weight down nicely, monitoring the guys closely in the days before they compete. We educate the boys all the time about having lots of fibre in their diet, focusing on low-GI carbohydrate, slow-release carbs like healthy, clean foods that are quite filling and wholesome. We don’t worry about the weight of the food, we’re more worried about the composition of it. Then it’s a contradiction because all of a sudden when it comes to the time of the competition the nutritionist is saying you don’t have to focus on what’s in the food, you now focus on what food weighs.

We’re not having real changes in body-fat in 24 hours, it’s more about how much water’s going in and out, what the weight of the food is, how long it spends in your gut.

We start the process a few days before, monitoring the weight closely. That helps us out nicely because the night before the weigh-in we know what weight everyone’s going to bed at, weknow exactly what everyone’s losing over night. Just by monitoring that and collecting that data we can comfortably say to one, ‘You can be half a kilo over or .6 over, .7 over, .8 over,’ the big guys even a kilo over because we know they’re going to shift that in a seven-hour sleep.

On the morning of the competition, I’ll go and check the scales – that they’re perfect with my scales so that we know what we’ve weighed in on is the same as the official weigh-in and our guys can have a bit of a lie-in. It happened in Delhi where the official scales didn’t work. Most of the guys wake up a bit under anyway, so they can have a mouthful of water before they get to the weigh-in.

AFTER THE WEIGH-IN

As soon as we’ve weighed in, the guys will take on some rehydration, most of the weight that they’ve lost overnight is just dehyrdration. We know how much they lost overnight, we know how much they lost the day before. Most of them will have 500ml of a rehydration electrolyte solution,some carbs, some electrolytes, so half a kilo straight away. They’ll have another half a kilo for breakfast. Breakfast will be mainly carbohydratefocused, with a little bit of protein as well. It all depends what time they’re competing. If they’re out early afternoon some of the guys will want a big breakfast because they’ll know they’re not going to have enough time to eat again before they fight. It might be a big breakfast at eight or nine o’clock and then a tiny little snack at 11am because they’re going to box at 12 or 1pm. If they’re on late afternoon, they’ll have a normal breakfast, a normal lunch and a light evening meal for these late fights.

We always like to eat together. It’s an individual sport but we’ve got quite a good team ethic. The coaches are great and they build a real nice team culture so everyone will sit down together at breakfast.

It’s a minefield in there. The dining room in the Athletes’ Village is the size of a football pitch, it’s huge. There’s everything you could imagine, good, bad and worse. So the first few days are a bit of a task to chaperone the guys around the dining room. But they’re all mature lads. There are coffee shops all over the place with cakes, it must be all for the endurance athletes living on carbs every day. With our boys it’s carbs specifically for the bouts and that’s about it really.

AFTER THE CONTEST

As soon as they’ve finished in the ring the first thing they do is get checked by the medical guys. Before they start to warm down or have a massage, they get on the scales and then we make a decision about what we’re going to put back in. In reality it’s purely about muscle recovery. It’s about replacing some of the fluids lost and having a bit of protein to recover the muscles.

We use other things like cherry juice, which really helps with their sleep and gets rid of muscle soreness. There’s loads you can do. We’ve got some night-time recovery drinks, slow-release proteins that you can take before bed and that’ll release over six hours. They can use those before bed. We use a lot of fish oils. How much fluid we can put in is all dependent on weight, if their weight’s good they take as much as they need.

It’s rare in the GB squad that anyone skips after a bout to manage to make weight. Skipping after a bout is not about weight management, it’s about flushing all those waste products out from the bout, clearing lactic acid, keeping the blood flowing. It’s a cool-down process. That combined with things like icebaths, compression garments, a good night’s sleep is all for the fighters’ recovery.

With tournament boxing I think it’s the only way to do it. With one-off bouts you can maybe crash a bit more weight and rehydrate but if you’ve got to go again and again and again, that’s the only way to do it. They want to be having a proper taper, they want to be well fuelled up, they want to be recovering well to get through two weeks of boxing.

THE EXAMPLE

Scott Fitzgerald had started boxing at 81kgs. He eventually made it down to welterweight and won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, his first major international tournament.

“It took a while for me to get down, taking this weight off after being 83kgs at my all-time highest. I’m feeling really good with the help here,” Scott said. “It’s been simple making the weight here. I have three meals a day, all with carbs in. I’ve done it really well for the first time in my life.”.

Mark Ellison said, “It’s been great for Scott Fitzgerald because he’s struggled with the weight in the past. He’s been 69kgs as long as we’ve known him but he never had the education and the strategies around how to manage it properly. He’s been brilliant he’s followed it to the letter and he’s felt the benefits. He’s been fresh every day. He’s had three square meals every day and had loads of energy.”

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*

August 7, 2014
August 7, 2014
RoyJonesJnr

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THIS was the second meeting between Roy Jones Jnr and Montell Griffin. The first took place five months previously on the March 21 1997, at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Going into the first fight Jones had captured the WBC light-heavyweight championship after defeating Mike McCallum. This made Jones a three-division world champion after previously winning titles in the middleweight and super middleweight divisions.

THE first defence of his title would be against Griffin, who just like Jones was undefeated. Griffin entered the first fight off the back of his second victory over James Toney, for the lightly-regarded WBU title.

HEADING into the 9th round of their first bout, Jones was slightly ahead on the scorecards. He caught Griffin with a right hand that staggered the challenger into the ropes. Jones then unloaded with a flurry of punches forcing Griffin to take a knee. Jones then landed a right–left combination knocking Griffin face first into the canvas.

REFEREE Tony Perez then proceeded to count Griffin out. The fight was stopped at the 2:27 mark. Jones, thinking he had won, started to celebrate with his corner. However, Perez then announced he was disqualifying Jones for the illegal shots. It handed Griffin the victory, and Jones his first career defeat.

AFTER the first fight Griffin had expressed a desire to fight against Virgil Hill, who was then the IBF and WBA champion. However, a rematch was made set for August 7, 1997. Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut would be the venue for the rematch, billed as “Unfinished Business”.

GRIFFIN stated that “I’m coming in angry, with a lot of rage.” This bad blood was due to the fact Roy had accused the champion of faking an injury to win the title from Jones. This was a statement that hit a nerve with Griffin. “The man contradicts himself; he makes himself look bad he has problems.”

THE fight however lasted only two minutes and 31 seconds. Jones came out swinging and sent Griffin stumbling into the ropes after just 20 seconds. Referee Arthur Mercante correctly ruled it a knockdown, with only the ropes keeping Griffin up.

AS the first round drew to an end, Griffin threw a jab and Jones answered in devastating fashion. Roy leaped from the floor with a left uppercut-cum-hook which shook Griffin to his foundations knocking him onto the seam of his trunks.

GRIFFIN tried to clamber back to his feet, but fell forward into the ropes as Arthur Mercante reached the count of nine, and waved the fight off.

JONES caught up in the heat of the moment, after avenging his first career defeat, announced that he wanted to save boxing by fighting Evander Holyfield.

August 7, 2014
August 7, 2014
Shannon Briggs

DUSSELDORF, GERMANY - APRIL 22: Shannon Briggs of USA, former world heavyweight champion, poses while clashing a press conference ahead of the upcoming heavyweight boxing title fight between Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine and Alex Leapai of Australia at InterContinental Hotel on April 22, 2014 in Dusseldorf, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

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Just over a year ago you started to get yourself into shape. What was going through your mind at that point in your life? Was a comeback the plan or were you just looking to lose weight?
I wanted to come back. I was in a bad place physically and mentally. Spiritually I was down. After the Vitali Klitschko fight [October 2010] my life went in a different direction. To get to this point a lot of things had to happen. I went through dark and rainy days, but I had to find the perseverance to continue on, the will and the drive. What else could I do? I have three kids, a wife, I can’t lose everything. The biggest thing on my mind was my childhood when I was evicted and I lost my home. It was climbing over my back. What am I going to do now? After the Vitali fight I got a job, I started my own business, I got a job working for a marketing company. Things were chaotic, but that was life. It was like, ‘what’s next?’ What’s next was to win the heavyweight championship of the world. I had to get back in shape and I still had something left in the can.
Even though my career has lasted 20-plus years, I only had three or four really tough fights. I said to myself, I’ve always had this gift inside of me, so now it’s about showing it. I would hate my career to have ended and not showing the world what I had. I will show that gift when I knock out Wladimir Klitschko.

A lot was expected of you when you burst onto the scene all those years ago. Do you feel there is unfinished business? That you did not fulfil your potential?
Totally, totally. But not all of it was my fault. But that’s life. I didn’t always have the right trainer, the right manager, the right promoter. Not many fighters have it all, though, or the opportunities I had. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not trying make excuses because it is what it is. That’s all in the past. I’m 42 years old, I feel phenomenal, I’m in superb shape mentally, physically and financially. Everything is working out at the same time. Now I’m coming back to prove what Shannon Briggs is made of.

Why do you think you can put it all together now, when at certain points in your career, when you were a lot younger, you couldn’t?
(Pauses) It was circumstances. I was to blame for half of those, if not more. I wasn’t focused on boxing as a career, as a lifestyle. I’d have a fight coming up, then we’d get in shape, then we’d train for the fight. But boxing has evolved, in the way that man has evolved. Look at Floyd Mayweather on 24/7. Look at Bernard Hopkins getting ready for a fight. Damn, these guys stay in shape all year round. My career had its spots. That was it. But that’s the past, bro. Listen, I’m so happy about today with everything that’s going on. I ran up on Klitschko yesterday and I had a ball. The whole world is talking about what I’m doing, about Shannon Briggs. I appreciate it. But I’ve got to show the world, and the world has got to see, that I’m forever talented.

I remember you telling me before the Vitali Klitschko fight something I thought was quite candid. You said, ‘I can always sell a fight but I may not win it.’ Again you are showing your ability to sell a fight, but do you honestly believe you can beat Wladimir Klitschko?
100 per cent. I could have beaten Vitali Klitschko. Come on. I fought him with one arm for 11-and-a-half rounds. While he was punching me, I would have been punching back. Come on. I was trying to defend myself and punch with one arm at the same time. That’s impossible, man. Look who I was fighting. The supposed best puncher in boxing. That would have been a war if I had two arms. Nobody is giving me credit. He retired on his stool after injuring his shoulder against Chris Byrd and gave up his world title. I stood and took a beating for 11-and-a-half rounds. I didn’t quit! And I didn’t get paid for it! Listen, I’m back now. I’m the lone wolf. I don’t have a manager. I don’t have a promoter. I have done this all on my own. Everybody turned their back on me. Look at me now. I’m a piece of steel. I’m made of iron, bro. I’m resilient.

Have you had any indication from Wladimir that he wants to fight you?
He wants the fight. He said yesterday he wants the fight. He’s concentrating on [Kubrat] Pulev but he’s sick of me challenging him, of me harassing him. He’s annoyed by me. Now, I’m going to kick his ass.

What weaknesses do you see in Wladimir?
I see a lot. I can’t tell you everything right now because I’ve got to save some of this shit for him, you understand what I’m saying? But yesterday I saw that he really can’t beat me. For the first time, I really believed that he couldn’t beat me. I seen him with my own eyes. I was in the ring with him, face-to-face. He can’t beat me.

Do you wake up in the morning and think, ‘I’m going to go and harass Wladimir Klitschko today’ or is it all pre-planned?
I’ve been looking for him. He doesn’t live too far away from me so I try to catch him here and there, at the supermarket and shit like that. I throw shoes at him, oranges at him.

No offence, but none of your comeback opponents come close to the level of Klitschko. Is there a plan to increase your level of opposition? (14.40)
There is no level of competition that can compare to him. I’m glad you asked this question. I’m 42 years old, why would I risk everything? Guess what? I already proved myself. I’ve been in this game for 27 years. I’ve had four fights [in comeback] and I went 12 rounds in my last fight [against Raphael Love] to show people I could go 12 rounds. It was a sparring match. I could have closed my eyes and knocked him out anytime I wanted but I needed the rounds. I got a title, a world ranking, it served its purpose. Why should I fight anyone to risk that when the man I want is sitting there. Who else is he [Klitschko] going to fight anyway? Okay, Pulev is a good fight, he’s the mandatory but look at his other opponents. [Alex] Leapai? Who did he fight that was the calibre of Klitschko? Who will sell more tickets? Me or Leapai? Me or Pulev?

Probably you but…
There ain’t no probably about it. Put me on the stage. Put Pulev on the stage. People will want to see Shannon Briggs. You go on Twitter. Go on Facebook and Instagram. People want this fight and look at me. I’m a big guy. I’m bigger than him. People want to see two dinosaurs going at it.

There was a rumour that you were going to step in and fight Ruslan Chagaev at the last minute for the WBA title. Was that true?
That was true because I weighed it all up. He’s been around as long as I have, he’s a shorter guy, he hasn’t been active and I don’t think much of him as a fighter. He’s not terrible, he’s the WBA champion. I looked at the risk-reward, and it was worth it. But the money wasn’t there and at my age, for a fight like that, the money has to be there. Listen. I’ll be honest with you. This is a business. I like that Floyd Mayweather has educated the world about that. Boxing is a business. I know everyone says, ‘Go fight this guy, go fight that one’. They don’t understand that this is a business, and your body, is your body. My body might go for a thousand miles, it might go for a million. I have to be careful with my body, and I have to be smart about it.

So what’s the next move now? Are you going to wait for the Klitschko fight to materialise or do you plan to keep on fighting?
I’m fighting in five weeks. I’m going to be staying busy.

We’ve seen the videos of you and Wladimir. When the cameras stop rolling is there any camaraderie or jokes between the pair of you?
Not at all. This is no laughing matter. We ain’t friends. I want to kick his ass. I want all the belts.

One last thing. While getting fit you shaved your head. You replaced the dreadlocks with a bald head. Why?
When I cut my hair everyone was like, ‘Wow. Oh my god’. The next reaction was, ‘It’s over for you.’ They said my hair was my brand, my hair was my strength. Are you kidding me? And I was fat at the time. I ballooned up to 357lbs which was my all-time high. So when I cut my hair, I looked like a fat bald shitface. I looked like Homer Simpson. Everyone thought I was finished. So I got serious about the training. I was determined to look good. I ate and slept training. I changed my diet. I started to look better. Then I went into beast mode. Then people said, ‘Damn. This mother fucker looks like The Rock.’ Now I’m ready to go.