"I am still going to make it to the top, whatever it takes" says heavyweight fighter Elijah McCall, son of former heavyweight champion Oliver McCall
Exclusive Interview by Charles C. White
Article posted on 01.10.2010
CW: What's up Elijah, how are you doing today?
Elijah: Iím doing well; just getting focused on my future goals and keeping my training steady.
CW: In your last fight, you were upset by Dieuly Aristilde. What happened in this fight? I believe your father was not present in your corner due to personal reasons, could this have had an effect on your performance that night?
Elijah: In my last fight against Aristilde, I wasnít as prepared mentally and physically as I could have been. I came down to Florida three weeks prior to the fight to start my training and wasnít in my best condition. I only sparred three times before the fight because it was hard to find boxers that wanted to spar. It also didnít help that I came down with chronic bronchitis the week before. As far as my father not being present, of course I was worried about him. Although these circumstances were present, they had nothing to do with what happened in the ring. Despite all the personal and physical obstacles that I experience before the fight, I wasnít going to let my supporters down, and I was still determined to prove to the boxing world that no matter what I was going through; nothing could derail me from winning..
CW: Have you pursued a rematch with Aristilde? If so, what would you do differently in order to ensure victory assuming a rematch would come off?
Elijah: I pursued a rematch with Aristilde back in July, but he seemed reluctant to take the fight. Maybe because I knocked him down three times in the first round. If he were to have taken the fight, I would guarantee my victory by starting my training a whole lot earlier and being more prepared going into the fight. I would definitely box more as opposed to always trying to slug it out with my opponents.
CW: I undestand that you have been having some managerial issues lately, which would account for the inacitve spell. Would you care to discuss this situation publicly?
Elijah: My inactive spell does have everything to do with my management team. They did not have the proper financial backing to move my career in the direction it needed to go. Therefore, I recently got released from my contract with Elijah Thomas and am actively seeking new management. Due to my experience with my last manager, I now know what I need to look for in a manager and am willing to wait until I find someone that will make my career move forward and put me in the position to get to the top.
CW: You are now free from your old manager, so when can we expect to see you back in the ring again?
Elijah: Being free from my management is definitely a step in the right direction. I am ready to get back in the ring; however, it is hard for me to find opponents who are willing to fight me. Until then, I will stay in the gym, perfecting my skills to where they need to be. This is a time that I will use to learn my craft and gain the experience that I didnít have in an amateur career.
CW: Any opponent lined up yet for your next fight?
Elijah: I do not have any opponents lined up but Iím ready to take anyone on that wants to take an L.
CW: Obviously you will want a few tune ups after this much time out of the ring, but after those, is there anybody on your radar that you would like to fight soon?
Elijah: I have some tuning up to do. I am training right now, there is no rust, and I am just polishing. (Laughing) Of course I would like to knock Aristilde head off his fucking shoulders. Other than that, I want to fight the other young heavyweights; they can get it too.
CW: Are you still being trained by your father?
Elijah: For the past seven months I have been training under ďThe Body SnatcherĒ- Mike McCallum. I have grown a lot under his instruction and his feel for the ring. I have a deep respect for him and there is no question that I will be working with him in the future. Due to the management issues, I am transitioning back to Florida where my dad will pick up where we left off and continue training me.
CW: What kinds of things are you working on in the gym these days to improve your overall skill set?
Elijah: Mike had me boxing, boxing, and boxing. Working on my hand speed, combinations to the body, a lot more footwork, getting better angles and the list goes on and on, but those are just a few skills in my repertoire.
CW: I assume you have been keeping in shape during this inactive period. Who have you been sparring with lately?
Elijah: I have been in the gym throughout this inactive spell. I been sparring at Johnny Tocco's with no one worth mentioning, the way I have been whooping them.
CW: I know that you will come back strong when you do get back in the ring. Do you have a time frame in mind for when we can expect to see you in the top 10 of the heavyweight division and hopefully lined up for a title shot?
Elijah: I donít have an exact time frame, but if I could really get things moving like I want them to, I would be at the top of my class within two years. I am hungry to make my own name in this business and the only way to do that is to continue training hard and to get in the ring.
CW: I believe your father helps train the fighters at the heavyweight factory down in Florida, and I am just curious what you think of this program and if perhaps you have sparred with any of those heavyweights in the program before?
Elijah: Currently he does not train any of the fighters down there. I believe the program is a great idea without enough fighters to capitalize on it. Yeah I sparred with a lot of the fighters in the program; most are still green and learning the art of boxing.
CW: Being a former football player yourself, what are your thoughts on the theory that all of the "good" American heavyweights are playing football and basketball rather than boxing?
Elijah: I donít agree with the theory because I believe that they are doing what they love to do. Although some of these football and basketball players are great athletes, it takes more than that to box. Boxing is an art that requires dedication, drive, courage, and a love for the sport. I could have been a great football player, but my heart just wasnít in it. My passion has always been in boxing and it took me playing football at the collegiate level to realize that boxing is where my heart is.
CW: I'm interested in hearing your opinions on a few upcoming fights; first is Shannon Briggs vs Vitali Klitschko and then there is Audley Harrison vs David Haye. How do you see these fights going down?
Elijah: On the Shannon Briggs vs Vitali Klitschko I donít see them being very entertaining as both fighters donít really have that aggressive style that I like to see. Vitali may shy away from Briggs' power and Briggs wonít be pushing the fight. I can see Vitali winning by decision, but would like to see Briggs knock his ass out. As far as Harrison vs Haye, I could see Haye dominating that fight because he is too fast for Harrison to keep up with. I got Haye winning in seven.
CW: Well thank you for your time Elijah. Any final thoughts for the fans?
Elijah: I take 100% responsibility for the last fight and mistakes I have made in my career. What I cannot accept is making these mistakes again and not moving forward from them. I have learned and grown a lot from my last fight and know what it will take to progress. As they say ďI am willing to live and die by the sword that comes with boxing.Ē From experiences that I have learned through my fatherís career, I will take the good with the bad and continue to strive for greatness. Lastly, but most importantly, I want to tell all my fans and supporters to not give up on Elijah McCall. I am still going to make it to the top, whatever it takes. RAINMAN FLEXIN.
For questions and comments, to schedule an interview, or to just chat about boxing, Charles White can be reached at [email protected] or 360-333-5911.
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