Exclusive Interview With Michael Grant - “I Will Beat Both Klitschkos”
By James Slater: Two heavyweight veterans who have over a hundred pro fights between them will clash in South Africa on November 19th. “Big” Michael Grant, 47-4(35) will travel to the homeland of Frans Botha, 48-5-3(29), and the vacant WBF strap will be at stake.
Article posted on 11.10.2011
Grant was last seen halting the huge Tye Fields inside three-rounds back in March, while Botha’s last bout saw him upset the young Flo Simba by 6th-round stoppage.
39-year-old Grant is hoping a win over the 43-year-old “White Buffalo” will lead to a shot at one of the Klitschkos.
Very kindly taking the time to speak with me from his home earlier today, Michael had the following answers to me questions:
James Slater: It’s great to be able to speak with you, Michael. You against Frans Botha is an intriguing fight; how did it come about? Did his team approach you, or did you approach his people?
Michael Grant: They asked me. It wasn’t a great deal, but this fight was the only thing out there for me - no-one was calling! It came about largely because Evander Holyfield turned down a second fight with Botha, because he has the [Alexander] Povetkin fight now. So Botha’s people reached out to me. Hasim Rahman was also on their list, but Rahman also said no.
J.S: You and Botha both go back quite a way; did you come close to fighting back then? Did you even meet or spar back in the late ‘90’s early 2000s?
M.G: No, we never crossed paths at all.
J.S: You obviously know all about him, his style, etc. Will you study some tapes of him or will you just adopt on fight night?
M.G: We’ll study a few tapes. His best days are behind him - as a matter of fact I think all of us, our best days are behind us (laughs) - but he still has a puncher’s chance. He’s not that difficult a fighter to figure out, to understand. He’ll look to throw shots and them move out. He’s not a head-hunter, and he’s a bit crafty I guess.
J.S: As is often the case when you fight, Michael, you will have a considerable height and reach advantage - I think Botha’s reach is 74” and yours is 86.” Will you look to box him early and then get the KO?
M.G: Whatever opportunity is presented, I’ll take advantage of. If the KO opportunity comes, then, yeah. But if in the first couple of rounds I’m boxing him and winning that way, I’ll take that also. You know how the game works: you have to fight your fight. Simply put - I’ll train hard to make the fight itself easy.
J.S: I read where Botha says he thinks a win over you will get him that return with Holyfield. What are you hoping a win over Botha will lead to for you?
M.G: Well, as I said, the phone hasn’t been ringing. The economy is bad, I guess. So this fight is all there is right now. But my goal, my ultimate goal, is to fight the Klitschkos. Hopefully I’ll be seen in this fight and with a win, I’ll be seen as a challenger for one of them. The Klitschkos are older guys now. I’m 39 and the brothers are like 36 and 40, so the fight is a clear one to make. And I’m preparing myself for those fights now, right now. I know how to fight like a big man. And I won’t just fight one brother, because after I beat one I’ll have to fight the other. I will beat them, I will. It’s time for me now. I see myself as the heavyweight champion of the world.
J.S: At the very least, you’d make a better challenger than Jean Marc Mormeck, who faces Wladimir in December. Do you agree with those fans who feel Mormeck will struggle to last a round or two?
M.G: This is the first time that I’ve heard this. I’ve been so focused in training camp. Who is Wladimir fighting next?
J.S: Jean Marc Mormeck, the former cruiserweight champ who lost to David Haye and has since won three close decisions as a heavyweight. He’s 39 and 5’11.”
M.G: Well, I have a question for you: does he sell tickets?
J.S: He’s massive in France, where they go crazy for him. But the fight is set for Germany.
M.G: Well, I can see why Klitschko would do this; it’s smart business from him. He’ll [Wlad] keep his titles and his ranking against a guy who is not the top guy to fight. I understand what he’s doing.
J.S: Getting back to your fight, Michael - when will you leave for South Africa?
M.G: November 9th.
J.S: And it will be your first time there?
M.G: First time, yes.
J.S: On paper it’s a risky fight, seeing as how he will be fighting at home. Any concerns there?
M.G: I’ve boxed on stages where I’ve been the underdog before. So, no, that won’t bother me at all. I’ve been an athlete all my life.
J.S: The most important thing to you is to win and look good doing it?
M.G: Absolutely. I have to win and look impressive. Then I’ll look to move forward. The Klitschkos should definitely fight me. That fight has to happen.
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