BN: You’d been driving back and forth between Liverpool and Manchester, from where you’d been preparing Callum Smith and Dillian Whyte for big fights…
I mean, it wasn’t bad. It worked out good because it just gave me something good to do throughout the day, ‘cause Dillian doesn’t train until late at night, and Callum trains earlier in the morning. So it kept me busy during the day. I love what I do, so it really wasn’t a big problem.
I was staying [like Whyte, in a hotel in] Manchester, because Dillian trains at night – sometimes we get [to the gym] at like nine, ten o’clock. It wouldn’t make sense for me to travel back to Liverpool at that time of night.
We [me and Smith are] still working, because they’re trying to get Callum something, and we’re just working, man. We’ll see what happens. I just hope they can get Callum a fight, you know? A tune-up or something to keep him busy.
BN: What was your reaction when you learned of the cancellation of Joshua-Whyte II?
I was in my hotel room. I received a phone call from a reporter. I was like, “I don’t got time for no games, man – I don’t know what the hell you talking about”. [My immediate reaction was,] “I don’t believe it”. I still don’t believe [he’s cheated]. From being around him, and watching him work – for this fight, his determination was through the roof. You’re looking good; training’s going well. You’ve had all the best sparring. Why fuck it up?
It’s frustrating, because it’s the week of. When we trained Friday, I said to myself, “This is it, baby – we winning this fight”. Then you get a call the next day. “God damn.”
I had one fight – we was at the weigh-in and they called off the whole damn card. But fights of this magnitude – these were two fights, you figure Callum’s becoming champ again, and Dillian’s going to upset [Joshua]. I always tell people, “I believe the fight is happening when the bell rings – I don’t even believe it when we’re walking to the ring ‘cause anything could fucking happen”. When the bell rings, and they take three steps in… “Okay, we’re here.” Other than that, I don’t believe shit until then.
I’m totally against [the use of PEDs]. I support Dill – I just can’t see him doing it. From being around him, watching him, I just can’t see it.
[The negative influence of PEDs] makes me hope and pray for changes. But I wouldn’t let nothing like that allow me to walk away from the sport.
BN: How widely do you think they’re used?
That I really, really don’t know, because I never really get into that. I know that they’re strict on it. I know that there’s heavy fines to be paid, from what I’m hearing. I don’t know exactly what. Do I know? No. Why? Because I never experienced it. I really don’t know, because when I was fighting there was no such thing – they didn’t have all that shit when I was fighting. They would piss test you for drugs, but, shit, they would do that after the fight – they wouldn’t even do that like they do it now. I’m at a loss for words right now.
BN: What has Whyte told you?
I called him to see how he was doing. He was upset. He said he’s going to clear his name, and I said, “Look, take a few days to clear your head, and when you’re ready to talk, call me”. He said, “I will”. I kept it simple. I told him I support him – I got his back – I believe in him, and when he’s ready to talk, I told him, “Call me”. All I asked him was, he okay?
BN: Where does your faith come from?
If we go out to eat, he watches what everybody orders. If you order fucked-up food, he’ll be the first to tell you, “Yo, why you eating that shit?” When we go out to eat I’m scared to order in front of him ‘cause I like to eat every damn thing. He watches you and if you order something that’s wrong… There was one time I would take a picture of the food and send the picture to him. “Alright, good shit.” He was always concerned with everybody around him – what they eat – even if he didn’t know them. If you’re smoking or something, he’d confront you. “Yo, why you putting that shit in your body?” Without a doubt [he’s got integrity]. “Yo, there’s a thing out here called diabetes, man. What you eating that shit for?” Nobody likes to eat around him ‘cause he’s a pain in the arse. If he sees me he hands me a big bottle of water. “How much water you drink today?” And he’ll give it to me. Anyone else in camp – if they’re not eating right he’ll let them know. That [his health consciousness] is why I don’t believe it.
If they tell me they’re clean, I’m going to stick by them. I’m not the type of guy, “He could be dirty – I’m not going to mess with him”. “I started this training with you – I’m gonna finish it with you.”
BN: What if he’s found guilty?
If he’s found guilty, I don’t know. That’s a good question. I couldn’t answer that because if he’s found guilty, I’d be in shock. I’d be in total shock. I just hope everything works out in his favour.
BN: Will you still be getting paid by him?
[Laughs] Hey – I’m gonna skip that question.
BN: Are you hopeful of him fighting Joshua again one day?
No. They’re not going to fight. He’s too much of a risk [in the ring].
BN: How much easier had your second training camp with Whyte been?
He was looking very good. We [now] both understand each other better.
BN: Were you expecting more much from Joshua after his second training camp with Derrick James?
Oh yeah, without a doubt. Without a doubt, so we’d prepared for anything and everything.
BN: To what extent is it true that it’s different to train a heavyweight than a fighter in any other weight division?
It’s kinda true in some aspects, because heavyweights are different in a sense that you can’t train them to move around like a lighter guy. ‘Cause some of these guys are too damn big. So, you gotta make adjustments as a trainer. But you gotta spend a lot of time with that fighter, and see what their weaknesses are; what their strengths are; what they’re good at; what they’re not good at.
I’ve had guys that were half the weight of these heavyweights and have the big ego. See, I don’t tolerate that. I tell them they can go take that shit somewhere else. I understand with a fighter – you the champ or whatever, but, dawg, we gotta meet halfway. I’ve been blessed in that aspect – where I’ve never had that problem. I mean I’ve had guys try me, and I’m like, “Look man, you gotta meet me halfway; if you’re not gonna meet me halfway we may as well stop wasting each other’s time right now”.
BN: How did Whyte’s and Joshua’s performances against Jermaine Franklin compare?
I mean, number one, Franklin can fight. That’s number one. Number two, Dillian went into the fight with one hand. One arm. He hurt his left elbow two weeks before the fight. He could barely jab; barely hook. So we had to stick what was working for us. It wasn’t exciting, I admit. It wasn’t what the world expected, I admit. But the key at the end of the day was that we got the W. But you know, his left elbow was in bad shape, and he said he wasn’t pulling out of the fight. He wanted to go through with it, so we had to do what we had to do as the fight went on – he’s struggling to make adjustments and stick with what was working. It wasn’t the all-out Dillian that everyone’s used to seeing. You know, no one knew he was injured so we had to do what he had to do.
I saw, maybe, 30 seconds of the [Joshua-Franklin] fight. I saw enough in the 30 seconds. I just saw enough – that’s all I’m gonna say.
I don’t agree with [suggestions Joshua’s performance against Franklin showed he’s lost his confidence], because if he was lacking confidence, he wouldn’t be in the ring. He has enough money. He can say, “To hell with boxing”, so I’m not gonna say that. A lot of people say this stuff, but if you’ve never been in the ring, or never been in the situation that man is in, you can’t make the statement. No one knows what goes through a man’s mind. You know, he has the whole world looking at him. So, it’s a lot of pressure.
It’s a lot of pressure. He has to let that shit go. ‘Cause no matter what he does, he’s not gonna satisfy everybody.
I was there at the [second Oleksandr Usyk] fight, and I thought he did well while he was letting his hands go. I thought he did very well. But then he stopped punching for whatever reason – I don’t know – but I thought he looked good in the second fight at one point. Like, for three or four rounds straight, he was looking very good.
BN: Did it surprise you he changed trainer from Robert Garcia after that performance?
BN: Do you agree that Whyte recovers from defeat more effectively than Joshua?
I agree with that 150 per cent, you know? I mean, listen, sometimes you have a defeat – you gotta take it as a lesson. You can’t sit back and dwell on it; you’ll never get over it. And that keeps [a fighter] from getting to that next level.
Now, it’s funny, sometimes we’re sitting there talking, and [Whyte] jokes about his knockout losses. You know what I mean? He goes, “I was waiting for one punch, then he threw another punch, and then when I saw it was too late, then I say ‘Ahhh’” [laughs]. He jokes about it, you know?
Some fighters – I’ve been blessed – you know, some fighters they joke about it, but they know what they gotta do to make it better. You don’t sit and dwell on it.
I can’t explain it, but I can see [that Joshua carries his defeats around with him]. I can’t really put the words together, but I can see it. I’ve been around long enough. Longer than both of ‘em, so I can see it. And I like Joshua – I really like him.
BN: How risky is it for him to fight a late replacement this weekend?
I wouldn’t fight. I wouldn’t fight. Listen, he’s got too much to lose. Number one, you’re preparing for one guy – a dangerous guy. Now they’re bringing in somebody else. So, your whole state of mind, you gotta regroup that shit, and it’s easier said than done. You’re the late replacement, so you’re going to be up for him – but you’re not going to be up for him. So, I wouldn’t fight. I’d be like, “Nah”.
BN: How disappointed were you and Smith to learn about Artur Beterbiev’s injury?
I think it was Sunday [July 30] night. I was sitting here, and somebody was saying to me, “What are you guys gonna do now that the fight is off?”. I was like, “What are you talking about?”. And somebody told me the fight was off, so I looked on social media, and boom. Then I called Callum and said we still gonna train tomorrow, so I went to the gym and we’ve been training every day. Sparred Monday; sparred Wednesday, and we’re getting down there.
I’m disappointed, but at the same time we gotta keep our spirits up, in case we do get a fight. You know, we can’t sit back and focus on this. It’s something that happened, unfortunately, but we gotta keep moving. We just can’t sit back and wait. He understands the game, so, he knows shit happens. He’s still working hard. I mean he was a little upset at first – he’s been busting this up, he spent the month in Florida with us [training].
The main thing is, it’s not these two training camps that matter – what’s gonna matter is the training camp we have for the fight when the fight is done. That’s what’s important. These two training camps helped us prepare, yes, but the main training camp is gonna be the one we have when the fight’s rescheduled. Now that it’s not Beterbiev for the moment, we gotta focus on whoever they have next.
BN: As one of Derek Chisora’s former trainers, how much does it concern you that he’s fighting again this weekend, against Gerald Washington?
To be honest, he’ll beat Gerald [laughs]. He’ll beat him; he’s safe with Gerald. I mean, me and Chisora have our conversations, and I know what he’s trying to do, so he’s picking the right guys. He’s picking the safe guys right now.
He’s picking the safe guys right now. But he’s told me he’s got a goal – how many more fights. Me and Chisora talk; I love Chisora, that’s my man.
I love that guy, man. He’s a good dude, man. He did a lot for me when I was training him over here during the pandemic – he looked out for me like family. I just hope that he’s careful – and whoever’s working his corner, if they see that shit ain’t going right, don’t be brave with Derek’s blood.
He called me to check on me to make sure that Dillian is taking care of me [laughs]. I’m like, “Yeah, I’m good”. Yeah, Chisora’s my man. I love Chisora – he’s a good dude. So, we don’t talk much – he just called me to make sure they were taking care of me. Make sure they got me sushi; make sure Callum was taking care of me. He always does that. Wherever I’m at he calls me and checks on me when I’m in the UK.