Just saw this interview (uncredited) over at the boxingscene forums. Chris makes some very valid and salient observations:
On Nigel Benn
“My toughest opponent was Nigel Benn because of his fiercely intimidating aura and dynamite punching power and ability.”
“This was a contest of two Alpha males trying to win supremacy over the other. So in my view I see him as a man who is closer than what a friend is, respectively speaking, as he and I shared honor in battling against one another.
“I drew blood from him and he from me. I smelled the blood on his breath when we were in a clinch. I felt his strength when we wrestled in the clinches, when our shins exploded against each other’s and the bitter pain was masked by the adrenalin when we surged forward at the same time to attack. We instinctively won a profound depth of admiration for each other which is very difficult to articulate.
“In short, we may not talk but we are probably closer to each other than anyone else could ever be excluding Mother, Father and Children.”
On Michael Watson
“My hardest fight was against Michael Watson, hardest because in a fight I knew I could not win from the sixth round I stayed in the fight to walk out a defeated fighter, but never the less to walk out and not to get stopped. I was knocked down at the end of the 11th round and in a fight I could not win, I got up. I threw a punch at the very moment of defeat which landed, and it subsequently won me the fight and put Michael Watson into a coma for 40 days; and has him disabled to this day.”
“My only regret looking back at my career is what happened to Michael Watson.”
“Since the accident that happened to Michael Watson, there have been many changes and many boxers have lived and are able-bodied men because of the safeguards introduced after that contest -these include having neurological doctors at ringside, and hospitals which deal with brain injuries within a 15 minute driving distance of the venue where the contest is to take place.
“The weigh-in is now 24 hours before a contest instead of the fight being on the evening of the weigh-in. Not allowing boxers to lose weight in a sauna if they come in overweight after the weigh-in for a contest and other important safeguards is why it is much safer post that contest in 1991.”
On Joe Calzaghe
“Joe Calzaghe did everything that was put in front of him so I don’t see where anyone can be critical of him. He has acquitted himself almost perfectly.
“What in my view is unfortunate for Mr Calzaghe is this; he never got to show all his metal, as you see the soul of a man when he is a beaten man. He did not get to show how he is in defeat, as they are impostors -victory and defeat that is. How a man behaves when he is taking a beating gives you a wonderful insight into the soul of a man.”
On Roy Jones Jr
“I met Roy Jones in 99 and asked him if it was true that he had said in about 93 that the one fighter he thought would give him trouble was me. He said yes.”
“I don’t mind that there are many different championship organizations because it allows more boxers to be able to make a living from the sport, and most do use it as a way of making a living or making ends meet.
“For the viewing public or the indifferent spectator, they are only interested in the best, so one belt per weight would be easier for them to understand, but would be limiting for the boxer. We call the solution for this the Undisputed and Unified world championship.”
“Fighters are not protected enough in terms of management. Managers and promoters do not, in the end, have the best interest of their boxers. Also, managers and promoters act as though they are the boss in the relationship, which is a travesty in itself because the Boxer is the nucleus of the business and what the manager or promoter is supposed to be is a trusted aid to the principle, and from time and memorial boxers have been misused, mistreated and discarded.
“And, the TV networks are also implicated in the misuse of boxers as they do deals with the promoters and the principles are not part of that deal-making, and it’s the employees who are remunerated, and they are well aware of the misuse of their schooled colleagues.”
“In my view one can be born with a good chin, or the powers to withstand powerful punches or to be able to absorb terrible amounts of punishment, but I also know that conditioning and premeditation of impact of punches can strengthen one’s resolve and constitution for taking it.
“It’s fantastic, when you think of a game that the objective is to score points by striking your adversary with tons of pressure behind the gloves, and when you yourself are struck, you must not take it as a personal slight or insult or even an invasion of your person because you then lose focus of the objective, which is to keep calm and in control. The game being that the person who has the most points at the end of the contest is able to raise their standard of living, profile and, most important of all, raise their caliber as a warrior.
“What a fantastic game.”
“Champion is not the belt they put around your waist, Champion is spirit. A selfless act is the spirit of a champion, this championship belt is only a symbol, almost impossible to attain but a symbol all the same, how one uses that symbol says whether their spirit will live on in the memory of the masses. In boxing history, his name will resonate as a world champion of genuine worth.”
“What sets the contenders and champions apart is integrity. Those in the heat of battle who have their welfare being as a concern should not be participants in this type of life. Those who would give their lives to protect their honor in the unforgiving moment are champions win or lose.
“There is a quote that goes as follows: Do not be afraid of greatness, some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them. One could argue that Muhammad Ali was born great and one could also argue that Sugar Ray Leonard achieved greatness but it is impossible in boxing to have greatness thrust upon you.”
On His Career
“All the many little titles and smaller titles out there are meaningless when it comes to world class, where it is having a 25 to 100 per cent share of the four sanctioned world belts to be considered the very best or one of the very best.
“I never had it put in front of me to Unify the titles and fight in the United States, without the political involvement of the parasites and control master Don King.
“My job was to keep training and fighting and be ready to do whatever was put in front of me to do, to be relentless and earn my living. And I did it to the letter, I was a total professional. I never pulled out of a fight, regardless of whether I had unhealed skeletal or organ damage or better reason.”
“I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to fight and beat the biggest shark in the biggest division to make champion, namely Nigel Benn; the one fighter backed on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and most impressive in victory over the man who fought all the champions, (Iran) Barkley.”
“I also fought a German on foreign soil, he was 6’3” and southpaw, unbeaten in 35 contests, and had relinquished the IBF version and would later win the WBC version against the WBA holder (Michael) Nunn. It was for my WBO world championship and I won by unanimous decision in his hometown.”
“The fitness required to be a professional four-round boxer is phenomenal, more than what 99.3 per cent of people will ever know.”