Exclusive Interview With Jamie Moore - "I'm Proud Of What I Achieved And I Can't Complain About What Might Have Been"
by James Slater - As his fans know, 31-year-old Jamie Moore - the former British, Irish, Commonwealth and European light-middleweight champion - announced his retirement this week. One of the most exciting-to-watch British fighters of the last decade, "Mooresy" will be very much missed. However, as he informed me in the following interview he was kind enough to give me earlier today, Jamie will remain very much involved in the sport he loves.
Article posted on 15.04.2010
Here are the Salford, Manchester southpaw's answers to my questions:
James Slater: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, Champ - I really appreciate it. We all read how you officially announced your retirement this week, and as one article I read wrote, British boxing will be a poorer place without you and your great fights. You have retired young at 31, is it 100-percent - no chance at all of a comeback? It was obviously a tough decision to retire?
Jamie Moore: It wasn't tough in a way, because of what the surgeon told me [with regards to the third scan I had]. He told me it would be dangerous to continue, so I made the decision because of my kids and my family.. It wasn't worth me risking things for my own selfish reasons where they're concerned. So that aspect of retiring wasn't tough. What was tough, was accepting it. I mean, it's only been a week and I'm already sad at how I'll not be able to do it again. I'll be honest with you, in around 12 months or so, if it wasn't for the scans, I'd probably get the urge to do it again. But not now, not with the scans. I also always did say I'd never become somebody's opponent.
J.S: How soon in the April 3rd fight with Sergey Khomitski did you know it wasn't there, where you weren't right?
J.M: Well, usually it can take me two or three rounds to get into a fight, and in the 3rd, I did warm into it a little. But the snap and the spite just wasn't there. Whether or not that was the weight, I don't know - I had been dragging my body down to light-middleweight for around two years longer than I should have been and I thought I'd try it up at middleweight because my body would not allow itself to lose weight any more. That kid [Khomitski] was giving me a tough fight, and that shouldn't have been the case. Certainly, 12 months ago, I feel I would've taken him apart and dismantled him. But it just wasn't there.
J.S: It must be hard to realise you have to stop doing what you've done for pretty much all of your life!
J.M: Boxing has been my life for eighteen years. It still will be a part of my life, obviously. It still hasn't sunk in yet, really.
J.S: I read you will go into training fighters yourself now?
J.M: Yeah. I'm going to take the family on holiday for two weeks, and then I'll get my teeth into that. I've already got a gym - The VIP gym with Steve Wood - and as soon as any fighters who are free agents come along, who want to work with me, I will do so. I've actually helped [trainer] Oliver [Harrison] out for the last two years anyway, and I've worked the corner before. I worked Amir's [Khan] corner with Oliver when he was with him; so I do have some experience and an idea of training.
J.S: And you have a range of boxing equipment that you've set up?
J.M: Yeah, I launched it two years ago now. The thing was, nobody was doing boxing equipment that was affordable and of good quality. So me and Steve got into that two years ago. It's pretty much taken care of itself, what with me busy training myself, and now I can put the time into it.
J.S: It's great you will stick around boxing. And with regards to the training, Anthony Farnell (former top pro and now trainer of Frankie Gavin) has taken to it really well at a young age.
J.M: I've known Anthony since I was 14-years-old - we boxed twice as amateurs. In Manchester back then, Ricky [Hatton] was the milestone, the person we could all look up to. He made a success of himself and it allowed us to say, 'If he can do it, so can we.' And now, with Anthony being such a success at training at a young age, with him proving he could make the transition, he's an inspiration to me.
J.S: Can I ask you about some of your key fights? You're known as a fighter who, win or lose, was always in an exciting battle.....
J.M: A big part of that was, I never knew when or how to quit. It's sad that my career has come to an end, but at the same time it's also appropriate; in that fighters like myself need to be saved from themselves in a way - all fighters who have that 'Never say Die' attitude can be their own worst enemy in a way!
J.S: The first fight of yours that I saw, you actually lost - to Scott Dixon back in July of 2001. You hade him down early before losing in the 5th; is it fair to say that was your first, shall we say, mini-classic?
J.M: In a way, yeah - because that fight made me the fighter I turned out to be. Early on, my management tried to get me learning fights, but - aside from my first pro opponent who was a tough guy - I was blowing everyone away. Scott Dixon took me into the deep waters, and at the time I couldn't swim! I learnt so much from that fight. I knew then I'd have to really show some bollocks if I was to be successful and win fights. That loss was the best thing that ever happened to me. It taught me humility, and it made all the wins that followed that much more rewarding.
J.S: Your three-fight series with Michael Jones was truly memorable. Is it fair to say it was a genuine grudge-match series - with real dislike?
J.M: At the time, there was genuine dislike from both of us. We're mates now, and it's all water under the bridge. But the third fight, I think that was my first classic fight that had a title on the line. My fight with Delroy Mellis, which was before the first fight with Jones (won, TKO6 in Sept. 2002), that was the first fight where I really had to dig deep. That fight was a turning point in my career; where I was able to dig deep and come through. But, yeah, the third fight with Jones; I think I was a little overeager in that 3rd-round (when Moore was put down twice, only to come roaring back at the end of the session). There had also been a lot going on before that fight. My Gran was poorly and I pretty much had to sit and watch her die. It was a bad time for the family. But in another way, that gave me the determination to win; to do it for her.
J.S: That 3rd-round was truly sensational!
J.M: I said to myself after I'd been put down twice, 'You've got to turn it around now or your career's over!' I'd lost due to the hip injury (in the 3rd-round) against Ossie Duran (in June of 2004) and I'd been disqualified against Jones in the second fight (also in the 3rd-round, in November of 2004). That 3rd-round against Jones, when I was able to come back, turned my career around. If I'd lost that fight, I'd have quit.
J.S: And the one fight you will probably be best remembered for - see if you agree - was the awesome war with Matthew Macklin in September of 2006. People still talk about that one!
J.M: I think Macklin was a little overeager in the fight, and I was a little more cute than he was - I had a little more experience than he did. The thing is, we had a great game-plan going in. I knew Matthew Macklin from working with (Ricky Hatton's trainer) Billy Graham, and I had an idea how hard the fight was going to be. Me and Oliver talked about how I would beat Macklin, and I said if I stood and had a fight with him it would be a really hard fight. So I said I'd outbox him. Oliver told me that if I tried to outbox him, he'd walk right through me. He told me I had to break his heart to beat him, that I had to stand in front of him but make him miss and then hurt him. So all those tactics - where I also fought on the ropes, rolled and turned him - they worked to an absolute tee! Oliver knew how tough Macklin would be and without his guidance and without his game-plan, it could have been a different fight.
J.S: I've got to say, sincerely, that that was the best fight I've ever been at ringside!
J.M: Thanks. I wish I'd been ringside at that fight; as a fan. It's strange watching yourself fight, but as a fan, I'd have loved to have been watching from the outside. People still ask me about that fight today. They'll say, 'Well done on winning the European title, but what about that fucking Macklin fight!'
J.S: And was it after that fight that you thought you'd get that European or even world title shot? Was frustration beginning to set in?
J.M: To be honest with you, a little frustration had already come in before that fight [with Macklin]. I'd just signed with Frank Maloney and as the European title was vacant then, and as I was ranked #2, I thought I'd get a shot. This was early 2006 and I didn't get my shot against Michele Piccirillo until March of 2009 - so that's a good three years. Politics did play a big part in it, but to be fair, I did have a number of injuries with my shoulder at that time - that was the story of my career in many ways, my shoulder. I had four different operations on it.
J.S: But when you did finally get to fight for the European title against Piccirillo, you absolutely annihilated him inside 3-rounds! Did you always feel you'd do something like that going in?
J.M: I always was good at closing the distance down on what I'd call a conventional fighter. I knew I'd beat him. I knew he didn't have the power to keep me off him and because of his age and the number of tough fights he'd had, I knew I'd beat him. I didn't think I'd stop him so quickly, though. Vernon Forrest stopped him in the 11th-round and he'd been the distance with Ricardo Mayorga and of course he'd beaten Cory Spinks. I thought I'd stop him after the 7th-round.
J.S: You defended the title in equally devastating fashion against Roman Dzhuman after that; was there then talk of you fighting then WBC light-middleweight champ Sergio Martinez?
J.M: There was talk about him coming over here, but in the end I think he asked for a bit too much money. I was disappointed. I've actually said a lot this week, about how unfair it was that things, the injustices that came up, held me back, but it's pointless feeling that way. I could rant and rave all the time about that, but it won't change it. I'm proud of what I did achieve and I can't complain about what could've been. Anyway, with Martinez, after looking at him against Paul Williams where he has improved so much - with my weight problems, maybe it's for the best that I didn't fight him because he might have bashed me up (laughs).
J.S: It would have been a very interesting fight, that's for sure. It's been great talking with you, Jamie. Can I ask you, you are good friends with Ricky Hatton; did you discuss your retirement with him at all?
J.M: To be honest, no. The reason is, the only people who knew about my scans were my wife, Oliver and Steve Wood. I didn't want to pressure people either way really.
J.S: Speaking of Hatton, as you know him so well.......
J.M: (jumping in, anticipating my question) Will he fight again?
J.M: I don't know. I think it's unlikely he will. He's got his teeth into the promoting now and he's too busy to think about himself. And the longer he leaves it, the less likely I think it will be that he fights again. I hope he follows me into the old peoples' home!
J.S: You both have your place in history, that's definite.
J.M: Ricky has achieved more than I ever did and he has much more money than I do. He is known as one of the most exciting fighters from these shores over recent years. I'm proud of my achievements - little things like I'm the only fighter from Salford to have ever won a Lonsdale belt. I'm happy with what we both did.
J.S: You'd make a great analyst on Sky Sports, too. Would you ever like to look at that?
J.M: I would like to do that, yes - and I know I could do it. The thing is, I'm a boxing fan. I love to watch fights. I tell you, if they offered me that job, I'd bite their frigging hand off!
J.S: Thanks so much for your time, Jamie. It's been a real pleasure. Good luck with the training of fighters and the line of boxing equipment.
J.M: Thanks, James. Your next article can be about my new champion!
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