Boxing


Mike Tyson Trainer, Freddie Roach Conference Call Transcript

15.07.04 - Question: Can you tell us what camp has been like so far and how Mike is doing?

Answer: Mike is doing very well. He has been in training now for three months. I told him to get ready for me for when I come. I had been in South Africa and my very first day here, he was doing 10 rounds on the mitts. He is in good shape and good spirits. I think the first day of training for this fight, he was in better shape than he was for the Etienne fight completely last time. So he has rededicated himself and he is working hard.

Question: Has there been a change in attitude for Mike between the Etienne fight and this?

Answer: Huge change. I think he hit rock bottom, but that was a wake up call for him and he realized the mistakes he made. He told me he was never going to have an entourage again. His entourage is only two people now instead of 25 and I think he is finding that it is a lot easier to live the simple life than the other lifestyle. He seems more at peace with himself.

Question: How much do you know about Danny Williams?

Answer: I have got the last four of his last five fights on tape and he is a pretty good puncher. He is a strong guy. He does not seem like he is maybe the bravest guy in the world, but he is dangerous a little bit because he does have pretty good power. So we just cannot walk in and just start swinging with this guy. I want Mike to go into this fight a little more scientific and behind the jab and using his boxing ability more than he did in the last fight.

Question: One thing we always hear is that Mike is going to use head movement and punch in combination more and then he comes out and tries to land a single, big, loaded-up shots. Have you changed that?

Answer: We are trying to get the combination back, trying to bring back the jab. It is coming along, but it is not there yet. He still likes to rely on his power We are trying to curb that with repetitive training, the combinations everyday on the mitts and head movement, and we are just working on it everyday. It is not there yet. I hope it will show a little bit in this fight, but I think he needs to do those things to step up to the next level. We are working on it but, again, it is a work in progress and it is not quite there yet, but it is getting better.

Question: He may be living the simple life now, but what if Mike keeps fighting and, say, makes $80 million in a year. Do you think he goes back to the way it is before? Is he fighting because he has gotten back his love for boxing or is it because he needs the money?

Answer: Obviously, I think some part of it is he needs money. But I think, again, hitting rock bottom woke him up and boxing is really what he does best. If he can get back to a certain level, he can beat those champions out there right now. Of course, the money always has something to do with it. I hope he learned his lesson though because I told him, "When the money comes back, the entourage, they are going to come knocking at your door and if you let them in, it will be a mistake. You should learn from your mistakes." He told me, "I am never having an entourage again. That is it." I said, "Well, when the money comes back, I am going to remind you of it." So hopefully, he learned, but you never know.

Question: Is Mike's ultimate goal to take the title away from Vitali Klitschko?

Answer: It is probably his ultimate goal because Klitschko is rated the top heavyweight in the world. We need a couple of fights before that happens, but definitely that is what we are after.

Question: So it is a reasonable goal?

Answer: Yes, definitely, because we are going to fight this fight and hopefully one more. I want to get Mike right back in the ring and get him in a general fight and then, I think, depending on how he looks in those fights, I think we will go for Klitschko in his third fight.

Question: Do you think Danny Williams is going to go down without a fight?

Answer: I expect Danny Williams to be at his best. This is the biggest fight in the world for him. If he can beat Mike Tyson, he would have a good future. So he better be training for the fight because we are and, hopefully, he will bring his A game to the table.

Question: How is Mike going to be prepared if the fight goes beyond the first few rounds and Williams seems to be able to take his punch?

Answer: We have been working 18 rounds a day, 10 or 12 rounds a day on the mitts, and he has been doing his road work. After three rounds, Mike is not going to fold in this one.

Question: How do you try to motivate Mike to utilize his boxing skills when a part of his head says, "I have so much power that I can just really knock these people out"?

Answer: You cannot knock everybody out. I want him to go out in this fight, not like the Etienne fight, because he went out swinging and box for a while. Mike needs rounds, so I want him to break this guy down first and then take him out. Hopefully, that will happen. But if Mike goes out there and whacks him in the first round, that could happen also.

Question: How has Eddie Futch influenced you as a trainer versus when you were a fighter?

Answer: Great. I worked for Eddie as an assistant for five years after I retired and he taught me a lot more about the training end of it because it is a whole new ball game. A lot of Eddie has rubbed off on me and I am thankful that I had a great guy like him to teach me.

Question: Williams made comments about Mike being 40 percent of what he was. Has Mike said anything to you about that?

Answer: No, he does not really care what this guy says. It is not going to affect or intimidate him. You know, Mike is not peaking yet. We are going to have to work a little harder for the next level and so forth, but he will be in shape and I am looking for an interesting fight.

Question: How would you compare Mike to where he is at now as opposed to what he once was?

Answer: I would say maybe 50 percent. When we get older, we get a little slower and start cutting corners a little bit. But he still has great speed and great power, but not like he did when he was a 20-year-old, of course. So he might be like 50 percent right now and, hopefully, 60 or 70 percent in two weeks from now. Then if he takes care of business, then we will step up to another level and it is an ongoing process and it will not happen overnight.

Question: Do you agree with Williams, who said a Tyson at 40 percent is still better than anybody out there.

Answer: It is true. The heavyweight division is not deep now Mike may be at 50 percent, but he will keep getting better if we keep him active and in the gym. That is the important thing we need to do is get a fight scheduled right after this one because down time is bad for any fighter. When you keep a fighter active, they stay sharp.

Question: Is Tyson under any medication that might impede his performance?

Answer: No, not at this point. He is not on any medication and he knows he needs to do well in this fight because it is a springboard to bigger and better things.

Question: He seems like a gentleman outside the ring. Does that affect him inside the ring? Does he still have that same hunger?

Answer: Yeah, he has been a gentleman outside the ring, he has been really nice through camp, but I can see it coming a little bit. He is getting a little moody. He is tired of training and ready to fight. Everyday he is getting a little more moody. By fight time, he will be in full swing.

Question: How is his back and has it affected his training?

Answer: It has been a little problem, but he should be OK if he goes in for treatment every day like he is supposed to. He has problems when he misses treatment. But we can control the back problem as long as he keeps his schedule. It has not been a problem this week at all.

Question: How has the change of opponent affected Mike or yourself?

Answer: It does not matter. We were talking about the strategy of Williams a little bit, but what I am interested in is getting Mike to be in the best shape he can be in for this fight, no matter who he fights.

Question: What weight do you expect Mike to come in at about fight time?

Answer: I think he is going to come in between 228 and 230.

Question: Who would you like to see him fight after this fight?

Answer: I have a guy in mind and I am not sure if he is available, but I think Vassiliy Jirov is a good fight for Mike, a tough guy, but I would like to see him fight him.

Question: Do you notice any trends that Williams shares with other British fighters that you might be able to take advantage?

Answer: Mostly, they have their stand-up, European style of boxing and we are definitely going to go out and attack him and put pressure on him right away behind the jab. He has trained quite a bit in New York with Hector Rocha, so he has a lot of American experience.

Question: What is your schedule in Louisville and where will you be training?

Answer: We are going to come into Louisville on the Sunday before the fight, so we will be there for a week. All the sparring will mostly be done by then and we will just be doing floor work and just maintaining until the fight.

Question: How do you know what buttons to push with Mike to get him to respond, as opposes to other boxers you work with.

Answer: My job is to learn my fighter and see what he reacts to better. Like some guys you have to scream at, some guys you just talk to. Mike knows the process of getting in shape and if he does not want to work, like some days he will have a sluggish day. So you just got to get inside the fighter's head a little bit and they are all different. But I am getting to know Mike better and better as time goes on.

Question: What tape of one of Mike's former fights would you show him for motivation and show him how great of a fighter that he used to be?

Answer: Mike does not watch fights of himself, he will not watch himself. But I watch his old tapes. He loves watching tapes of the old-timers and he would much rather do that.

Question: Which tape of his do you watch that you consider his best fight?

Answer: When he won the title, now that was a great fight. We were talking about his greatest one-punch knockout, and maybe it was (Frans) Botha because it was a great shot. We talk about stuff like that, but we are not going to live in the past. I am working with Mike and what he has now. We cannot be 20 again, so there is not a big advantage in watching what he used to be. We are just trying to improve on what he is now.

Question: Are there ever times that you want him to do something and he just says, "I do not feel like doing it right now; I am not going to do it"?

Answer: Yes, there have been times. I can usually get him to do it by putting it in his mind because he will feel guilty and will do it. We all have good and bad days. Some days, I will think he is being lazy and I will push him hard. Some days, I will take it a little easy because I know he had a hard run in the morning and he is a little fatigued from that.. When they are tired, sometimes a day off is the best thing in the world, but sometimes not.

Question: Do you find that the guys, the millionaire, big name guys who are at the top or have been at the top, are a little bit harder to get to listen than the four- and the six-round guys who are coming up?

Answer: Definitely. But it is much easier to get the young guys motivated and work because they are still growing. The big guys, especially the heavyweights, they have a lot of wear and tear on them from the hard work, and they have days when they are going to come in tired and sometimes you have to give them that day off.

Question: What would your feelings be against a Tyson vs. (Evander) Holyfield III match?

Answer: That is definitely a fight I would love to see in the future, but I would like to see at least a couple of warm-up fights.

Question: You mentioned a possible fight with Vassiliy Jirov, maybe the second fight out. Do you think that Jirov is a more dangerous opponent than Holyfield at this point?

Answer: I would think that at first, but this guy beat Mike twice. So you can never underestimate him. I thought Tyson would kill him both times before the last two fights. So I want Mike, if that fight does happen, I want him to be a little bit sharper. Jirov definitely could be a tougher fight, but it depends on how it all comes to the table because I think Evander will get up for Mike like he did in the last two. He likes fighting Mike. So I would like to see Mike get a little sharper with a couple more fights before that happens.

Question: Since it has been a long time since he fought a fight that went a distance, do you think Mike is mentally prepared if Williams takes him into the later rounds?

Answer: I think he is very prepared for that. We are doing it in the gym and I do not see why he would not follow through in the fight. If the fight goes 10 rounds, I will be happy because Mike needs rounds. Like I said, I want him to break this guy down and then take him out and not just go out there swinging. That is our strategy and what we are going to work on.

Question: Is there anything specifically you are going to do to help him keep his focus because, in some fights, in terms of moving his head and bobbing and weaving, that seems to go after the early part of the fight?

Answer: Me and Mike, we got along well in the Etienne fight and we are getting along better in this. He trusts me a lot more now than he did and I think my influence in the corner, well, I think I am inside his head a little bit and that I can get him to respond. I am looking for a good fight from him using the jabs and, of course, the head movement.

Question: What is Mike's most effective attack right now?

Answer: Well, obviously, Mike is not going to turn into a boxer or a mover, so we are going to be aggressive. But we are going to be aggressive behind a good jab and it is coming along pretty good. He has not used it in a long time. Mike's favorite punch is the right hook and my favorite punch is his left hook, so we disagree in what his best shot is. But I believe his left hook is and so we are working on basically working behind the jabs, because once you go the distance with the jab, then everything else will fall into play.

Question: What is a good day for Tyson in the gym?

Answer: A good day was yesterday because he did not want to work so we worked on strategy, we worked the mitts and we had a good round in the morning. Then we worked on the speed. He was happy with himself and that was a good day. Sometimes he is a little bit hard on himself. If he does not look that great, or his form is not there because his timing is off still, he will have a bad day and get down on himself a little bit. So we have had good and bad days and that is part of the process of getting ready for a fight. He is a little tense now because he wishes the fight was tomorrow and not a couple weeks away.

Question: Besides that famous speed/power ratio he has, which is quite exceptional for a heavyweight, even at his age of 38 now, what would you say are his assets besides that speed/power combination?

Answer: Power is his asset, no doubt about that. We are trying to bring back his combinations and setting that power shot up and not just trying to get lucky to land one shot. Throw the jab, hook and lay the guy into the right hand. Just set it up and not just try to go out there and get lucky. Basically, that is what we are working on.

Question: Has Tyson given you any idea how much longer he wants to continue boxing, and if not, how long do you think he has in the game?

Answer: We do not have any set plan. We talked about how he needs seven fights to get out of debt, but if he gets the right fights and the right money, the better he looks again, the faster he will get back to where he needs to be. But we have not set a date or anything like that of how long he wants to fight. It has not come up in discussion at all.

Question: Does that concern you that maybe Williams' dirty tactics will bring out the old Tyson and that he might snap in the ring?

Answer: The way he is training and the way he is acting lately, I do not think that is going to be a problem, but with Mike, you never know. Williams is a physical fighter. He will throw an elbow and watch his head, but Mike is capable of working with that. He has pretty much seen everything. Hopefully, he will just stay to the game plan and go on from there. But if this guy does foul him too much, like me, I am a fighter, retaliation always could happen.

Question: What kind of shape is Tyson in?

Answer: He is in very good shape. He has been on a strength program also and he is real strong. At the Etienne fight, he was 222, I said, "Do you think we can reach that point?" He said, "Maybe." He weighed out of the gym yesterday at 230 and he looks in good shape and anywhere between 225 and 230 I will be happy with for this fight.

Question: How would you see a fight between Tyson and Antonio Tarver playing out? Do you just see Tyson knocking him out early?

Answer: I see Mike putting pressure on Tarver and, yes, I see Tarver not strong enough to keep Mike off of him and we would be very aggressive in that fight because you would be fighting a much smaller man and I would love that fight for Mike.

Question: How do you deal with a former, great champion and a man of Mike's stature trying to get back to halfway where he was or maybe farther and what is the toughest thing in dealing with him beyond the boxing? Psychologically?

Answer: The psychological end, he is 38 and he has gotten heavier and so forth, but he has never really taken a lot of beatings in fighting if we do not count the Lewis fight. At 38, he still has the ability and speed and power. He does not have the speed that he had when he was a 20-year-old, but he still has the best speed in the heavyweight division and he has a lot of power. He has been boxing for a long time and some days he just does not feel like it is there and I will give him a day off sometimes and sometimes I will have to push him into training. But the end results, we are working on it. Right now, he is ready to fight. He does not want to spar anymore or do the mitts anymore, but he knows he needs to do it. So he trusts me enough and he trusts my judgment enough that if I say it, he will do it. He knows I am there for him.

Question: Where do you put Mike in his prime in a historical perspective?

Answer: "What if," is such a thing. If he had not gone to jail, he could have been pound for pound one of the best heavyweights of all time. I still feel he will go down as a great fighter, one of the top 10 heavyweights ever. But it is just my opinion though.

Question: Besides, Klitschko, which of the other world champions would Mike like to fight?

Answer: Mike would like to fight (Lamon) Brewster first because he was at the Brewster fight and he said he would like to fight him and he would like to fight Klitschko, but I think since maybe Don King does not have Klitschko, that might be the fight that happens first. I do not know what Mike's relationship with Don is right now, but I do not think it is a good one. Not to say that they will never work again together; anything is possible, but I think Klitschko after a couple of fights would be a great fight for Mike. I have worked with the Klitschko brothers and Wladimir is one of my best friends and I have worked with his brother, Vitali, and I think Vitali Klitschko is a really, really good fight for Mike. Mike has to be in great shape for it and we will have to step up the chain a little bit more and go to the next level, but definitely, we would love that fight sometime soon.

Question: Would he maybe take on Wladimir Klitschko first and then go to Vitali?

Answer: I do not know where Wladimir's head is at right now, but that would definitely be a great scenario because Wladimir is a great challenge. He is a good puncher and a good fighter, and I think he is better than his brother, actually, but he just cannot get his mind right.

Photo (c) C. Kalinchuk

Article posted on 16.07.2004



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