On boxing being a dying sport:
If boxing is in a demise, it started with Don King and pay-per-view, 10 years, 15 years ago. Young boxers to me would be scared to hook up with such a man as it seems most of the men he and his like had dealings with end up broke. He’s no longer a major player in the business, but maybe many young men put themselves into other physical sports such as Mixed Martial Arts and American Football and now there is a lack of depth in boxing, a lack of fights, a lack of challengers for the champions. Regarding pay-per-view, Amir Khan being case in point; as a household name on terrestrial television, he was raising boxings profile, only to be put onto the obscurity of pay-per-view while holding only the Commonwealth title. Does world champion not meaning anything any more, getting to the world championship? Maybe an improvement in the game would be a sole governing body, like FIFA for soccer.
The Home Box Office in the United States some might blame for not showing enough young talent, and pushing the guys who have been on the scene for a long time. I think in general if boxing is suffering, it is suffering from a lack of ostensible controversy and intensity more than anything. Remember Tyson? Remember the build-ups to the Chris Eubank-Michael Watson fights? Remember Naseem, Nigel, Steve Collins and Frank Bruno? The intensity in and out of the ring was electric, and contagious.
On how good he was:
I considered myself equal best fighter in the world along with Mike McCallum, Michael Nunn, James Toney, Roy Jones and Pernell Whitaker, but not the very best best because they were champions in their own right just as I was. In common opposition, I scored more clean shots on Watson than McCallum, Rocchigiani than Nunn, Thornton than Toney and Malinga than Jones. But they beat more skilled opposition – like Herol Graham, Kalambay and each other – so that evens it out.
On potential opposition:
I thought I was invincible. In the gym, I outboxed super skilled Errol Christie and knocked out defensive master Herol Graham, and in the ring, I outslugged super punching Nigel Benn and knocked out defensive master Michael Watson. McCallum posed a threat with his body punching and Nunn with his height, reach and stance, but I didn’t think they were better than me.
As far as James Toney is concerned, all he did was stay stood still in the middle of the ring or lay on the ropes, and I had the flashiest feet and flashiest flurries, which should’ve allowed me to box around him well or outwork him. One thing for sure is that I know he’d have hurt me in there with the big counter right and I would have to have gritted my teeth to get to the end of the fight.
Roy Jones didn’t want to fight me in 1996-97.
On Herol Graham sparring education:
Herol Graham unknowingly molded me in so many ways, that whole time in Sheffield. Before sparring with him for two weeks in April 1989, I was a raw, impatient novice scrapper with Barney Eastwood scouting me. When I left that gym, I was a matured, supreme counter-puncher with a manager and promoter who paid me what I was worth, namely Barry Hearn whom I met at the 1989 World Snooker Championships.
I went from struggling with Frank Moro to dominating a much higher class of opponent in defensive master Randy Smith. And Herol Graham you can count for the monocle! All his right jabs and right hooks I walked into caused some eye damage and the British Boxing Board of Control actually gave me a monocle and told me to wear it in private or I’d have my license revoked!
On Steve Collins and Roy Jones fighting this year:
Steve offered me out for a third fight in about 2001, 2002, on a catwalk! Steve is something like 48, but when you look at Bernard Hopkins, of the same age, winning at world championship level, it kind of makes you think: ‘He’s a man and he’s doing it, I’m a man so why can’t I do it.’ There’s also money to be made in a fight with Jones I guess, in Ireland, and us boxers don’t know contentment as much as other ordinary beings know it. The person, who knows contentment, eats to live but the successful prize fighter lives to eat.
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