Monte Barrett: "Against Tua, I was In my Zone And I was Not To Be Denied!"
by Pavel Yakovlev (July 19, 2010) Two days ago Monte Barrett, a massive betting underdog, fought top contender David Tua to a controversial 12 round draw in Atlantic City. In the opinion of most observers, Barrett won the fight, making the result nothing less than a spectacular upset. Today, Barrett granted Eastsideboxing an exclusive interview. During the conversation, Barrett shared his impressions of the bout, and discussed the training techniques he used to prepare for his superb fight effort.
Article posted on 20.07.2010
ESB: I scored the fight 6-5-1 in rounds for you. That translates into 115-112 after adding the extra points you obtained in the final round. Everyone I know believes you were a clear winner. I haven’t found a single Internet report yet that favors Tua. Any comments?
BARRETT: Basically, I feel the same way. I don’t know what the judges were looking at, ring generalship, aggression, or whatever. I was more effective because I was fighting my fight, and throwing Tua off of his game plan. I was winning through ring generalship..
ESB: How would you rate your conditioning for this fight, relative to your past bouts? Were you better prepared for Tua than you were for Ustinov? I know you were in shape for Ustinov.
BARRETT: For Ustinov I only sparred 18 rounds total. For this fight, I boxed about 84 rounds. My MMA trainers -- their company is called Nobody Denied Strikezone – put me through the most rigorous training of my life. They also called NBD. My trainers Lewis and Kevin from NBD really rejuvenated me.
ESB: Did you do any special training to condition your legs? I know more boxers today are doing hydraulics training to strengthen legs. Your footwork put you on top in this fight, in my opinion.
BARRETT: Yes, we did hydraulics training. I met Kevin and Lewis in April, and we did an assessment, diagnostics. We decided to do hydraulics for legwork. We worked on balance. These guys worked me like a madman. They had me doing something called “running on air,” using machines with just air impact. It was crazy.
ESB: Did you shadow box with dumbbells or weighted gloves in order to build-up punching power? I know you did that for Ustinov. How about for Tua?
BARRETT: Kevin and Lewis made me shadowbox all the time with weights. Mostly everything I did with them, I had weights in my hand. My boxing trainer, Gary Starks Sr., had me shadowboxing with weights every other round, four minute shadowboxing rounds.
ESB: Tua connected with some heavy hooks at different times in the fight, but I noticed that on most of those occasions, you were pulling back, to reduce the impact of Tua’s punches. Any comments?
BARRETT: You are correct. I was rolling with the punches, taking the steam out of them. He caught with a few good ones, but most of the time I was rolling away.
ESB: Did Tua have you hurt at any point?
BARRETT: I would say he hurt me once or twice in the fight, yeah. A couple of times after getting hit, my mind starting playing tricks on me (laughs). One time was when he got me with an overhand right; another time, I really felt his left hook.
ESB: How did Tua’s body attack affect you? Tua landed some heavy body blows during the middle rounds, but they did seem to slow you down. Any comments?
BARRETT: (laughs) I’m still sore. I’ve been taking Advil since the fight. That tells you how hurtful his body attack was. But it did not let it slow me down. I was in my “zone” during the fight; that means being in a mental state, a “zone,” where I was not going to be denied. Therefore I did not let those body punches get in the way. I remembered Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “If you haven’t felt something worth dying for, you’re not fit to live.” That’s the way I felt during this fight. That sums up my attitude during that fight.
ESB: Did you find Tua’s head movement and bobbing-and-weaving to be a problem?
BARRETT: Not too much of a problem. Nirmal Lorick is my second trainer, and he would imitate Tua while handling the pads. That got me to use my jab the right way, to know how to offset Tua’s head movement.
ESB: What combinations did you work on for this fight? Obviously the left jab was a big weapon, and of course you snapped your overhand right to the head as much as possible. I noticed you attempted a few right uppercuts, but I didn’t notice them land. Most of your effective work was with the left jab and the right cross.
BARRETT: Obviously the jab was big. We did a lot of work on that. But aside from just the jab, there were three basic combinations we worked on: the 1-2, the 1-2-3, and the uppercut on the inside. For this fight, we went back to the fundamentals, right back to the foundation combos.
ESB: Did you have any trouble tying up Tua on the inside? How would you rate Tua’s upperbody strength relative to other strong guys you’ve met?
BARRETT: I didn’t have much trouble typing him up because of the way he clinches, so he didn’t seem that strong at all. In training, we did a lot of work on clinching, practicing how to push Tua backwards or move him in a circle. So, the clinches, tying him up, was no big problem.
ESB: In the clinches, from the early rounds onward, did Tua use any rough tactics to try to wear you down, such as hooking the elbow and stuff like that?
BARRETT: No, he was a clean fighter. Remember, boxing’s a tough sport. There’s always going to be rough stuff. But I can’t say he was a dirty fighter.
ESB: You won the seventh round big…you put your punches together beautifully. You were punching with greater speed, greater accuracy, and more fluidity. You were really snapping the jab. I think you won the fight psychologically in that round. To me that was the turning point. Do you have any comments about the seventh?
BARRETT: At that point I started getting my second wind. Also, my trainer Gary Starks was in my head. In the corner, he was reminding me of everything we worked on. He told me to go out there and do it.
ESB: The tenth round was incredible. Late in the round, you actually had Tua backing up…I was astounded. I thought you hurt him with a couple of rights; in this round, you were the hunter, and Tua was the hunted. A total reversal of roles occurred. I even saw shades of Buster Douglas against Mike Tyson. Do you have comments about this round?
BARRETT: My trainer told me to go out there and get some respect, to back him up. The first half of the fight I was trying to be accurate, not throw hard punches, basically get my rhythm. In those rounds I was focused on letting my hands go in combinations. In the tenth, I started sitting on my punches. The rhythm was there, I had that. Now it was time to start hurting him.
ESB: In the twelfth and final round, Tua came out for the kill. He must have known he was in danger of losing, and was throwing bombs. I noticed you began trading with Tua at this point. Why is that? Did Tua force you into brawling, or did you do so willingly?
BARRETT: I knew the fight was close, and once he started engaging, I needed to fight back. It was the last round, and I wanted to go out with a bang.
ESB: And, of course, in the twelfth round, you made boxing history by becoming the first man to floor the iron chinned David Tua. In 18 years as a professional, Tua has never been off of his feet. But he was battered and floored. How did that feel?
BARRETT: I’m not intrigued by it, because I’m a fighter. I was just doing my job. Things happen for a reason, you take the good with the bad. Fighters take everything in stride. So knocking him down is nothing special to me.
ESB: When Tua arose, I noticed his legs were unsteady. He was hurt. Did you notice that? I thought there was potential for a knockout here. Any comments?
BARRETT: Not really. From where I was, on the other side of the ring, I couldn’t see that his legs were unsteady. But before that, in the clinches, I could tell he was getting a little weaker.
ESB: I won’t ask what comes next for you, because after a performance like that, it’s going to be hard to stick to a retirement decision. I’ll let you work that out on your own. But I will ask, is there anything special you want to say to the fans now that the fight’s completed?
BARRETT: (laughs) I’m going to ride off into the sunset, and be grateful for my career.
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