By Keith Lambert
Who was the best fighter you ever fought?
“By far, Michael Watson in our second fight.”
Did Joe Calzaghe hit harder than Nigel Benn as Frank Warren claimed you said..?
“Benn hit me hardest by far, harder than cruiser Carl Thompson even.”
Is it true that you wanted nothing to do with the Michael Nunn & James Toney?
“That’s interesting, because I signed to fight both Nunn and James Toney. As part of the contract with Don King for Nunn, where I was the first fighter to get one over on him when me and Nigel drew. And as part of the contract with SKY for James Toney, where I was the first fighter to sign for a TV company direct, but he lost to Roy Jones.”
Did Roy Jones Jr duck you?
“I was never mandated. But I asked Roy Jones about 10 or 12 years ago if he’d said back in ’93 that the one fighter he thought would give him problems and had reservations of taking on was me. He told me yes that was true.”
Did you take on all the toughest challenges in your career in your opinion?
“As world champion, what you want to avoid is a southpaw who is 6ft or more and unbeaten or been world champion. Rocchigiani and Calzaghe were fights that no other fighter would take. I took them, even though they weren’t even mandated.
“Not even Roy Jones, rated as the best pound-for-pound fighter in history by some writers, would take that fight even when it was mandated to.”
Did you train on Xmas Day and New Years Day and was this hard?
“Yes, and in hindsight it was year-by-year progression to the very best objectively; going into New Year ’91 training for an unbeaten, never-before-dropped world title challenger; New Year ’92 training for never-before-dropped, future world champion; New Year ’93 training for 45-win former world champion; and New Year ’94 training for 35-0 former and future world champion.
“I never missed a single days training from the age of 16 until after I fought Nigel Benn in 1990 and I trained seven days a week to that point.”
How would you have fared against Mike McCallum, Reggie Johnson or Sumbu Kalambay?
“McCallum: I wouldn’t like to say, we are good friends. The other two: difficult styles but I had incredible strength for a middleweight and they didn’t hit anywhere near as hard as Nigel Benn to keep me off.”
Did you see Joe Calzaghe going unbeaten for a further 11 years after your fight?
“No because everyone loses. One must take into account that 11 years was 22 fights or so for him, whereas I had the showmanship and made myself marketable enough to fight five or six title fights a year which was three times as difficult to stay unbeaten.
“He didn’t lose, but he was stuck down the canvas by fighters of pedigree and got up to win in style, every time. Calzaghe was a great fighter.”
Who would’ve won between Steve Collins or Joe Calzaghe?
“Calzaghe was a different class to Collins in terms of ability and talent.”
Who is your favourite fighter of all-time?
“Jack Johnson, and I would like to play the part in his movie.”
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