By Samuel Lee


To become the best in the business you either have to be born with a one in a million talent like Ali and Roy Jones, or you have to train the hardest; like me, the young Tyson and Floyd Mayweather. My son trains the hardest and so he’ll become the best in the business.

I don’t know of another fighter in today’s era who trains at full intensity 300 days a year and spars at full intensity 40 rounds a week. When Christopher becomes king and defends the title every other month, fighters will go back to training year-round and putting in the yards, paying their dues.

The sport, if you can call it a sport, will produce sharper harder punchers as a result of it and go back to the knockout era of Tyson, Benn, Naseem, Thomas Hearns, Gerald McClellan and a young Roy Jones.


The most skilled offensive fighter I fought was Michael Watson in our second fight for never allowing me to be out of range.

Michael fought a Mike McCallum in his peak in a similar way to how he fought me in our second fight, but was far too tense around the shoulders against McCallum whereas against me he had already just been in with me and let those shots fly freely in-tight from different angles to different areas.

He was immense and wouldn’t budge when I hit him back, he felt a good stone heavier while looking even leaner. So he was physically by far the strongest, too.

The most awkward defensive fighter was Nigel in our second fight, because he ducked, slipped, bobbed and weaved almost constantly and in a nonrhythmic manner. If you had a Thomas Hearns-like jab from the hip, like Sugar Boy Malinga used – who had the right body structure for it – he couldn’t get under it and that was the one way to beat him.
Gerald McClellan had that jab but he couldn’t use it, he was too irate on knocking Nigel’s head off, when he had the ability to beat him on points.

The only fighter I’ve ever seen more awkward to nail down than a matured Nigel Benn if he stayed off the ropes, is Herol Graham.


The people came to see me because I was real – I was a genuine fighter, I was a proud warrior; I was real. A warrior does not come to the ring smiling and waving and nodding. A warrior does not look disinterested or with a downward gaze; you are meant to portray uprightness, (and) rectitude, because you are truth – you are genuinely willing to give your life in the four-cornered circle, and you have a certain pride in this fact.

That’s why the people came to see me. I portrayed that. I wasn’t a salesman, Barry Hearn was the salesman. Barry Hearn detected something in me the first time we met, and his gut told him to invest. He always got me what I was worth. I was just being real.

The vault was something I did in the gym in New York because I didn’t want to bend down to get through the ropes because I felt it portrayed a lack of dignity in a way, in my own mind, the way I was.

The first time I tried the vault I got over the ropes – and the gym owner Adonis Torres – God rest his soul – told me I should do it if he ever put me in an amateur contest because it could put attention of the crowd and judges on me over my opponent, and so I did it for all 26 of my amateur fights and my first 50 professional bouts in honor of him, because I respected my elders.


James Toney was a fighter who was very dark, a very angry young man, a very fearless young man. He had an aura about him that said he wouldn’t quit and he’d try to kill you, so he was the potential of a Watson II type fight – coming forward with short sharp blows and staying power. He was very skilled – he had all the shots, all the combinations, a unique defense. I didn’t go out of my way because I was a champion in my own right and I didn’t want another Watson II.


Michael Nunn was everything you wanted to avoid in a fighter – 6ft2, a southpaw and lots of long light shots a round while running or rope-a-doping! I’d have fought him but not until I’d already banked enough money because he’d have beaten me if it went the full 12-round duration, unless he was mandatory contender; in which case as a proud champion I’d have fought him of course.


Vegas is the mecca. But the reason I never fought there is because the offer I got was to be against Barkley in ’92-’93, who lived in Vegas and came from the streets of the Bronx; it was far too risky knowing the attitude and mind-set he’d have in coming from the Bronx, and the staying power he had as a fighter. It could’ve been a Watson II and neither of us were mandatory contender for each other titles.

The MGM opened in ’94 with the likes of McClellan heading, but I didn’t want to be tied to Don King so took to Europe and Africa to make my millions.