LOOKING, as he himself agrees, like a throwback to the heavyweights of the 1970s (although much bigger at 6’6”) with his old style afro hairdo, 6-0 (4) heavyweight hope Cassius Chaney (yes, he is named after Cassius Clay) is aiming to achieve what the big names of those glory days did.
The 28-year-old who was born in Baltimore has picked up a ton of experience sparring with, amongst others, Tyson Fury and Charles Martin. Chaney has also boxed in the UK (out-pointing Larry Olubamiwo late last year in Bristol) and he is now working on “learning all the nuances of the boxing game.”
Here the likeable and eloquent heavyweight speaks exclusively with Boxing News:
Q: First of all, what was your amateur record?
Cassius Chaney: “I was 24-3. I won a couple of regional Golden Gloves titles and I won two national titles. I won one in Oxnard, which is where Charles Martin also won his, before he went pro.”
Q: And for those who have yet to see you box, how would you describe your style and approach – are you a boxer/puncher, a counter-puncher?
C.C: “I’m fluent. I’m learning the boxing game. All those things [you said] describe me, I just need to learn how to settle down, how to relax. It’s all about picking up the nuances of the game. I’m pretty solid technically and this served me well when I was [sparring] with Tyson [Fury] over there. And a lot of that was just watching, learning. As I go on, I will learn a lot more about my style. I do put my punches together well and I can hurt an opponent. I just need to learn how to be relaxed in there.”
Q: And you are signed with Main Events now?
C.C: “Yes. They actually signed me before my first fight. But I like their history, they have a history with heavyweights, who they know how to move. They had Lennox Lewis for a long time and I’m a big time Lennox fan. So it’s not like I just signed with any promoter.”
Q: And who is your head trainer now?
C.C: “I’m with Peter Manfredo Senior now, and I also work with Amir Mansour’s trainer, Calvin Davis, in Philadelphia.”
Q: When is your next fight set for and do you have an opponent?
C.C: “It’s supposed to be March 18 and it could be Jamal Woods. They told me it would be him but for a four-rounder, I never get in the zone so far ahead until I know who it definitely is. But it’s supposed to be Jamal Woods (8-25-4 with 8 KOs, only stopped 5 times).”
Q: About the sparring you did with Tyson Fury, how was that and how much did you two spar as he was getting ready for Klitschko?
C.C: “Oh, Tyson spars a lot. We probably did around 50 rounds, 55 rounds. We sparred three times a week. One thing he did that impressed me was, he rotated guys [he sparred] a lot, they were in and out. And you also have to spar Hughie, who has a totally different style. It was a great experience of course but you have to try not to become just a sparring partner.”
Q: You have a ton of experience for a guy with just six pro fights because of all the sparring you have done. Who else have you worked with?
C.C: “I’ve sparred Amir Mansour, Charles Martin, Gerald Washington. I helped Eric Molina get ready for [Deontay] Wilder. I sparred a few rounds with Malik Scott and a few with Dominic Breazeale.”
Q: Charles Martin of course has that big fight with Anthony Joshua in April. Who do you pick to win?
C.C: “I do like Charles taking this big challenge in his first defence. I don’t know if it’s the business of it or what, but knowing Charles, it wouldn’t have mattered to him. Coming from a tough background as he does, like myself, I knew he’d want to showcase himself and prove that he belongs. I knew he wouldn’t just sit on the belt for a year after winning it. It’s a huge challenge but I know Anthony Joshua has a lot of confidence right now. He [Martin] has called me like 20 times to go and help him, but as much as I’d like to, I have my own career to think about now. We sparred two years ago, and I know I’ve gotten so much better since then. But if I had to pick a winner, of course I’m going to go with the guy I know. I think it will be a shootout. I don’t think either guy will try to box.”
Q: You have already boxed in England and in Canada, do you like to travel for fights?
C.C: “One thing my father told me is, when you spar in Philadelphia, everyone will be against you. I’m 28 and I’ve already been on the road, playing basketball. So travelling for a fight, it doesn’t bother me. People will either be against me or they will be for me. But when people get to know me, they will like me and be for me.”
Q: You got to know Fury quite well when you travelled to work with him. Can he beat Klitschko a second time?
C.C: “I do think he can beat him again, but not in the same way. The main thing was, Klitschko couldn’t get good sparring for Fury, and he won’t be able to this time. Tyson had all the [good] sparring, that and a great game-plan. Klitschko had slow guys. Just because you are 6’6” it doesn’t mean you can help Klitschko get ready for Fury – you don’t have his footwork or his style where he plays around. You have to know Fury, and have sparred him and know what he does. Klitschko isn’t going to be able to find fighters who can simulate Fury.”
Q: Who are your boxing heroes?
C.C: “Ali is my number-one, I’m named after him. I like Lennox Lewis’ ring smarts. I like Riddick Bowe, [Evander] Holyfield. I actually like quite a bit of Frank Bruno, he was tough. He just made some mistakes in the ring and that’s why Lennox was able to come back and win their fight; he was more relaxed in the ring.”
Q: You watch a lot of old fights?
C.C: “I do try to watch the older fighters, I can always watch more of course and learn. The thing about Philadelphia is, it creates a stigma: you need to learn your boxing history. And you can do that by being around the historians, like Bernard Hopkins – another of my favourites – who you can just listen to. He talks about history yet he’s still making history.
“And one thing I’d like to say is, people may say Klitschko was boring, or [Floyd] Mayweather was boring. But they mastered something – or everything in Mayweather’s case. And that’s what I want to do, to learn the entire game. If I can do that, no-one will be able to beat me. I don’t think anyone can beat me now, but if I can learn all the right stuff, if I can master it, I’ll beat anyone.”