Jameel “Big Time” McCline: A Man on a Mission

By Joseph Herron: The “hurt business” is not for everyone.

The commitment, discipline, sacrifice, and pain which fighters are forced to endure through the rigors of training and undergo during fight night is enough to turn even the most ardent of athletes away from the ring.

But, every fighter has a dream; and until they accomplish their vision, most warriors of boxing will continue to lace up the gloves and persist to seek their elusive goal of one day becoming a World Champion.

Longtime heavyweight contender Jameel “Big Time” McCline possesses this dream; and it still burns within the 6’6” ring veteran.

At 41 years of age, the Harlem, New York, native plans on making a comeback to the squared circle in February of 2012.

“I was looking at The Ring’s top ten list of heavyweights and noticed that the only American listed in their rankings was Fast Eddie Chambers. I said to myself, I know I can still make a difference in boxing and win the Heavyweight Championship of the World.”

After taking a 2 ½ year hiatus from world class prizefighting, can McCline truly hit the “Big Time” once again?

“I plan on being ready physically before I step foot in the ring. That’s the only way I am going to attempt a real comeback.”

“Right now I weigh 298 lbs, so I have about 30 pounds to shed; but I have already assembled a great team of professionals from around the world, which includes veteran trainer and hand specialist Anthony Hamm, to help me prepare for elite level opposition. We’ve currently set up camp in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, Florida for the next four months to train meticulously until I am 100% ready to get back in the ring.”

“The boxing portion of my training regimen is being held at a gym in Boca Raton, and my conditioning and strength training is taking place at Delray Beach.”

“Sports scientists and physicians have been conducting tests to intelligently assess my current physical condition and what I have to do to get my body back into the best fight shape possible. We’re finding out how much weight I should lose, how much muscle I need to gain, and different techniques on how to build speed and stamina.”

“With my team of specialists, we’re taking a much more technical and scientific approach when preparing for battle this time.”

Subsequent to beginning his professional fight career at the late age of 25, Jameel displayed top level skill in defeating several prominent fighters; including Michael Grant, Shannon Briggs, Al Cole, Lance Whitaker, Charles Shufford, and Cedric Boswell.

McCline was also a participant in four heavyweight title fights versus Chris Byrd, Wladimir Klitschko, Nikolai Valuev, and most recently Samuel Peter.

Although coming up short in every championship opportunity, the 16 year ring veteran feels that his maturity as an athlete and a person will prove to be the difference during his next heavyweight campaign.

“Without having an amateur career, I feel like I missed out on the experience that it takes to win the Heavyweight Championship of the world.”

“I had the size, speed, and talent to get to those championship fights, but I lacked the experience and maturity to win. An amateur career is so important in building a fighter’s character. It helps you work through those tough mental and physical situations so you don’t have to learn on the job as a professional fighter.”

“Even though I was good enough to make it to the world class level, I felt like I was still learning and didn’t fully understand where I needed to be to win those title opportunities.”

“I completely understand now. I know that no matter what, you just have to bite down on that mouth piece and do whatever it takes to get it done!! That’s why I’m making a comeback at the age of 41.”

Jameel isn’t quite ready to ride off into the sunset and live with thoughts of what might have been. The humble fighter from Harlem is now focused on leaving everything in the ring and willing to walk through fire in order to achieve his ultimate goal of winning a heavyweight championship.

“I look back at my last title shot against Sam Peter with so much regret because I wasn’t able to finish him off. I had him down on the canvas three times early in the fight and simply let him off the hook!! For personal reasons, I have to rectify that missed opportunity.”

On October 6th, 2007, McCline challenged Samuel Peter for his interim WBC Heavyweight title. Despite having great success early in the bout, flooring the favored Nigerian fighter three times, Jameel was unable to put away the interim champion and ultimately lost a controversial unanimous decision.

The American heavyweight offers his opinion of what went wrong during his last championship opportunity:

“Before I was given the fight with Peter, I had already been training for Vitali Klitschko’s comeback fight in 2007 for a total of 13 weeks. Unfortunately, Vitali pulled out of that fight at the last minute because of an injury. At the same time, Oleg Maskaev was forced to forfeit his title opportunity with Sam Peter due to a back injury, which coincidently left Peter without an opponent as well.”

“When I finally stepped into the ring with Sam Peter in October, I had been training for 18 consecutive weeks. The night before the fight, I remember feeling so weak and tired. I knew that I had over-trained. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t even effectively promote the bout. Don King ended up fining me $15K for not attending a mandatory ‘Meet & Greet’ to help publicize the fight.”

“So I knew going into the contest that I wasn’t going to be operating at my peak for all twelve rounds. That’s why I really tried to put him out in the third round. Unfortunately, I ended up running out of steam and couldn’t finish the job.”

“I never made any excuses after the fight and this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned it. I just feel that it indicates how much I’ve learned from the mistakes that I’ve made throughout my career. I’ve learned what to do and what not to do before and during a prizefight.”

The 41 year old heavyweight is very serious about his comeback to the ring. So much so that he is personally financing his entire camp. The idea that he’s using his own money merely serves as additional motivation.

“I’m only in the beginning stages of my comeback and I’ve already spent over $30K. This is all or nothing for me. I realize that I have so much to lose with this comeback so I’m going all out. This is my dream and I’m going to give this everything I have.”

Many fighters who have staged a return to boxing after announcing their retirement have been forced to comeback for financial reasons. This is not the case with “Big Time” McCline. Along with making sound financial investments, the big punching heavyweight has a bright future providing color commentary during boxing broadcasts.

“I have already provided commentary for three different events and I love doing it. I have offered my services as a ringside analyst for Zab Judah, Evander Holyfield, and Tomasz Adamek pay-per-views, and the feedback has been very positive. So there are other options for me, but I absolutely have to make one last attempt at winning the heavyweight championship of the world.”

With a burning desire and a passion for the sport, Jameel “Big Time” McCline continues to embark on his quest for boxing greatness. After all of the adversities and obstacles the 41 year old ring veteran has experienced and overcome, he still feels the need to accomplish his dream of becoming the next American Heavyweight Champion.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity to make a comeback at this stage in my life. This is not something that was just decided on a whim. My return to the ring has been very calculated up to this point. We brought in doctors and advisors to make sure that this was a realistic possibility, and it is something that I really have to do.”

“I just want to be clear that I’m not doing this for monetary purposes. I simply feel that I have too much unfinished business in the ring. I must do everything I can to fulfill my dream of becoming the next great American Heavyweight Champion.”

Article posted on 18.10.2011

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