Boxing


Matt Godfrey training in Philly for Cora

PROVIDENCE (March 12, 2007) - World cruiserweight boxing contender Matt "Too Smooth" Godfrey loves cheese steaks but that's not why he's training in Philadelphia for his April 6 main event fight on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights against his 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials teammate, Felix "Bad News" Cora, Jr., at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut..

Godfrey will defend his NABA boxing title against Cora, as well as fight for the vacant NABF belt, in the 12-round headliner on "Collision Course," promoted by Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc., that has serious world title shot implications.

Providence-native Godfrey (14-0, 8 KOs) is rated No. 6 by the WBC, as well as No. 10 by the WBA and IBF, while the WBC ranks Cora (18-1-2, 9 KOs) at No. 16.

Godfrey has been training in Philadelphia with his new head trainer, Naazim Richardson, one of five candidates for 2006 Trainer of the Year (Boxing Writers Association of America. They've known each other since Matt's early days in the amateurs, where "Too Smooth" posted a 194-23 record, including six national championships -- four open tournaments including the 2004 Everlast U.S. Championships, plus two in the Junior Olympics.

Godfrey was a Bronze medal winner at the 2001 Pan-American Games, Silver medallist in all four of the 2004 national major tournaments - National Golden Gloves, PAL (Police Athletic League), U.S. Championships and U.S. Challenge -- and six-time New England Golden Gloves champion.
"One of the main reasons I took this fight against Cora is there's an 80-90 percent chance that a win will possibly put me at No. 1 as the mandatory contender in the WBC," Godfrey explained. "It didn't matter who my opponent was for this fight. It's all about jockeying for position to get a title shot. Cora is a unique fighter. For a guy his size he's in such incredible shape that he's like a machine, sitting in the pocket and throwing punches from beginning to end. You usually see that style from much smaller guys than a cruiserweight. I haven't been in against anybody like him and it's going to be a good test. I will adapt to him, though, starting by being in the best physical shape of my life. You know, I love cheese steaks - my big weakness - and eat them all of the time back home. Now I'm training in the city with the best cheese steaks in the world and I can't eat 'em. One day I did reward myself for losing some weight by eating one, just that one, until after this fight. I plan on fighting my fight against Cora, but I'm going to be prepared, condition-wise, to go the distance hard with him.

"I'll be training here six weeks when we're done and (chuckle) I wanted to leave after two days. Naazim is militant. He's banging at my door every morning at 5:30 to run. And then I don't know the exact time I'm going to the gym until he tells me. What he does is make me get uncomfortable because every time I'm in the ring things aren't going to always be comfortable. Sometimes it's a love-hate affair for me. He rushes you and makes me train like I'm 130 pounds. When I first got here I was complaining, 'I can't do it (working out).' Brother Naazim has now eliminated 'I can't do it' from my vocabulary. It's good to have him op top of me 24/7. Training in Philly has given me regular sparring, what a world-class fighter needs, and more opportunities than back in Rhode Island."

Richardson moved into Godfrey's corner because his trainer since turning pro, Peter Manfredo, Sr., has been busy helping to prepare his son, Peter Manfredo, Jr., for his WBO super middleweight title fight on April 7 against Joe Calzaghe in Wales.

"Peter and Roland (assistant trainer Roland Estrada) produced a solid fighter in Matt," Richardson said. "I'm not responsible for that. I'm just teaching him to master some of the little things and he's been very responsive. We're trying to find a mesh and get him in great shape. It's been a pleasure because we are working together on all cylinders. He has the skills and I've watched him grow from a pup going back to the Junior Olympics. I believe he has the size and athleticism to beat Cora. Not just beat him, but to win impressively."

Godfrey, 26, has always shown poise and ring wisdom beyond his years. Working with Richardson in Philly has been like going to boxing graduate school for Matt.

"Naazim loves playing mind games," Godfrey concludes. "I never know when I'm working out; he has me on pins and needles. But there have been no distractions and I'm getting in the best shape of my life. This is a tough fight. Naazim's a really good strategist. He's watched a lot of Cora's fights and we've been working on our plan. Not only do I need to win, I need to win looking good because boxing is a business and I want all of the networks to want me fighting on their shows."

For more information about Matt Godfrey visit his web site at www.mattgodfreyboxing.com or his promoter's at www.cesboxing.com.

Article posted on 12.03.2007



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