"I definitely agree with what Gamboa said. He's been putting in that work and he's been looking really good and impressive, and so for him to, and I'm sure the fighters do want to fight, but at the end of the day, he has to look after his best interest for him and his family. And I believe they have two kids and he's married, so at the end of the day, he has to look after his family, so when you have the powers that be, I don't want to say put his name on a contract, but more or less agreed to a fight; mind you, this kid was 126 pounds and he's fighting Rios at 135 and Rios didn't really even make 35...what they trying to do with Gamboa, and that's cash out on him. That's what these guys do and that's some of the behind the scenes moves. When they feel that they don't have no more use for you, they are gonna put you in a fight where they have both entities, where they own both guys, so they don't lose either which way. When you're finished, they use the other guy to cash you out," stated former super featherweight title challenger turned trainer Harold "The Shadow" Knight, who shared his thoughts on the situation going on with Yuriorkis Gamboa. A former long-time assistant trainer for the last undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Lennox Lewis, Knight knows a thing or two about what goes on behind the scenes for fighters that fans are not privy to. Check out what he had to say!
PC: How has everything been, Harold?
HK: I'm good, man. Like I said, no need in complaining. I'm just enjoying life and working hard. It's been a little rough and tough for everybody, not just me, but for the whole country. But I'm a survivor. I got that fighter's instinct; keep on punching, chin down and keep on going, you know what I mean? I just thank God I'm good.
PC: For sure, man. And for our readers who aren't familiar with you, give us your background in this fight game.
HK: As an amateur, I had 116 fights. I had 103 wins and 13 losses. Sweet Pea [Pernell Whitaker] was one of my losses when we were like 12 years old at the Ohio State Fair. I fought him in the semi-finals. I fought Tommy Ayers once at an Ohio State Fair. And then I turned pro and went 19-1. I was the former USBA champion and former #1 contender for the IBF title and fought in one of the last 15 rounders against Rocky Lockridge, the champion then. I lost a 15-round decision to Rocky Lockridge. And then I took the opportunity to work with the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Lennox Lewis. Like I said, I was blessed. Coming from retiring as a fighter and going straight into a trainer and working with the heavyweight champion, boxing has been good to me, man.
PC: How did you end up working with Lennox Lewis? You were a super featherweight and got the opportunity to work with one of the giants of the game.
HK: Well, becoming the assistant trainer to Lennox Lewis was...Lennox Lewis' first professional trainer was my trainer and mentor, the late John Davenport, so I'm always going to give him big props. He was Lennox's first professional trainer. He brought me aboard and I will never forget in January of 1990. The reason why I will never forget that because I was in London, and obviously Lennox was in London, and I moved there and a week or two later was when Buster Douglas shocked the world by beating Mike Tyson. I remember when I moved there and watched that fight by myself. But being a lighter guy and working with a heavyweight...once again, I believe this, when you are taught the right way, the proper fundamentals and the basics and proper stance and knowing how to fight, it doesn't matter what weight class it is in. Being a blue collar boxer, and when I say blue collar, meaning putting the work in and grinding, and Lennox came from that background also. Plus, with his talent, it worked out. He was a hard worker. He was the type of guy that wanted everybody around him to work hard or just as hard as he did, so it worked out working with him.
PC: One of the articles that caught your attention was an article by Danny Howard basically lifting the blame off of Yuriorkis Gamboa. You agreed with the article. A lot of people don't understand the behind the scenes things that go on in boxing. How do things like this happen in boxing?
HK: Once again, it goes down to having good people around you. Being a fighter is hard enough going through the training and preparing for a fight, but you also gotta have a strong team with you. I'm talking about your trainer, and whether it's your adviser or manager, down to a good promoter. It all evens itself out. So fighters have enough things to worry about, and then you have your long lost cousin, especially when you start being on HBO and you start making that money, you have a lot of people that come out of the woodworks and wanna start whispering in your ear. So in that situation, I definitely agree with what Gamboa said. He's been putting in that work and he's been looking really good and impressive, and so for him to, and I'm sure the fighters do want to fight, but at the end of the day, he has to look after his best interest for him and his family. And I believe they have two kids and he's married, so at the end of the day, he has to look after his family, so when you have the powers that be, I don't want to say put his name on a contract, but more or less agreed to a fight; mind you, this kid was 126 pounds and he's fighting Rios at 135 and Rios didn't really even make 35, you understand what I'm saying?
PC: I follow you.
HK: He's probably walking around at 50 to 55. Even in his last fight at the Garden, he had to give the title up because he wasn't on weight. And now Gamboa is jumping up two weight classes and we all know Rios is going to be in your face; right in front of your face. I mean, Stevie Wonder can hit him, but at the end of the day, if it don't make money, it doesn't make sense. So I totally agree with Gamboa. He had to have people looking after his best interest, because at the end of the day, if you don't have people looking after your best interest, he has to look after his own best interest. Like I said, I agree with him 100%.
PC: I was once told by a trainer that everyone in camp, even the guy carrying the spit bucket, has a job and they have to be efficient at that job.
HK: Yes, you gotta have that strong team. And you gotta look at it; if he don't fight, nobody makes money. The people around him don't make money. And I know the promoters put the money up and they take the risk, but also us as former fighters, and fighters now, they taking a risk every day too because they are putting their life on the line. So you have to be able to maximize your profits and your earning power with minimum risk. That's why I have such a great respect for Floyd Mayweather because he ain't just smart, he's a business man. He is a business man and he's also an artist. He knows what he's doing in there and he is a perfectionist, and hey, he is one of the best in this era. So folks can learn off of his template, not only in the ring, but business-wise also. So I give Gamboa all the credit in the world. I think it will work out for him.
PC: Your only career loss was to Rocky Lockridge, who at one point was a very unfortunate and sad story in the boxing world. He was actually on the show "Intervention" trying to kick his habit. Have you spoke to Rocky lately? Last I heard, he was doing better.
HK: I haven't talked to him in a while. Actually, the last time I talked to him was when we both got inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, and this was a few years back. This was before he went into the "Intervention" thing, and I watched it on TV. There was a big thing in the newspaper down here and that was about 2 to 3 years ago. But the last time I talked to him, we sat at the table next to each other at the Hall of Fame ceremony and after that, it was just reading up on him. And this is another situation where this guy was the two-time junior lightweight champion who fought the best; the Pedroza's, Chavez, and the Mayweather's. It was just an honor to be in the ring with him. And I said to him, "Rocky, damn, why didn't you give me the title and I would have held on to the title." He loss it in his next fight to Tony Lopez.
PC: That was a helluva fight.
HK: It was a damn good fight. But I said, "Damn Rocky, you fought me harder than you fought Tony Lopez." But once again, it goes back down to, and I was reading some of the situations where he would make money and Main Events would put money aside for him, but at the end of the day, it was his money and he was like, "Hey, give me my money." But I'm sure they had an inkling of what was going on during his career and I'm sure they wanted to, unfortunately like a lot of promoters do and ironically what they trying to do with Gamboa, and that's cash out on him. That's what these guys do and that's some of the behind the scenes moves. When they feel that they don't have no more use for you, they are gonna put you in a fight where they have both entities, where they own both guys, so they don't lose either which way. When you're finished, they use the other guy to cash you out, you know?
PC: Who do you enjoy watching fight these days?
HK: Ah man, obviously Mayweather. I'm a big fan. I tell folks do not bet against Mayweather or you will lose your money. The only person that can beat Mayweather is himself. I like Adrien Broner. I like Salido. Definitely Andre Ward; he is amazing. As well as good trainers too; I got big respect for Barry Hunter, Virgil Hunter, as well as Naazim Richardson and Buddy McGirt. I got nothing but respect for these guys, man. What I do as a trainer is when these guys come back to the corner, I not only listen to what they are saying, but I watch what they do. I like to see their strategy. It's not only boxer against boxer, but it's also trainer against trainer. I also like Kevin Cunningham. He is a bad dude. I like him. I listen to what these guys say. I also envision what I would say to the guy, whether he is losing or he's winning. I'm saying to myself, "What instructions would I be giving this guy?" You basically have about 45 seconds, if that, by the time you get that stool in the ring and get them settled down. Then you have to impart your instructions or get on their case or whatever. Also, the mark of a good trainer is what buttons to push at the right time. You see when Lamont Peterson's trainer told him to pick his damn head up and shoved his head backwards? That was amazing. That was good, man. It makes me work harder at what I do. There are a lot of yes-men in these corners today, and he's no joke. I like those guys, man, and I look up to them.
PC: I appreciate you reaching out to me and for being a supporter of the website. I have to get you on to share some of the many boxing stories I know you have.
HK: Anytime my brother, and I mean it when I say I have always read your stuff and always thought it would be nice to be on FightHype and speak with you, so thanks again. And then the Gamboa article more or less hit home because at one point or another, every fighter goes through that, so the older guys that's been through it can try and steer the younger guys in the right direction and away from that road of these other hang-on guys and these wannabes who make all of the damn money when you have laid all of the ground work down and yet you will be the first one to get fired as the trainer.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrLouis1ana ]