John Scully: “I think Chad Dawson deserves a ton of respect from boxing fans for the way he approaches getting fights like the Ward fight done!”
Exclusive Interview by Geoffrey Ciani - I was recently afforded the opportunity to have a nice conversation with well respected boxing trainer “Iceman” John Scully, who will be training “Bad” Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs) for his September 8 date against super middleweight champion Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs). Scully spoke about the upcoming match against Ward and the fact it is taking place at 168 pounds. He also shared his views on a variety of other topics including Manny Pacquiao’s split decision loss against Timothy Bradley, whether we will ever get to see Mayweather-Pacquiao, Carl Froch’s dominant KO win against Lucian Bute, this weekend’s heavyweight showdown between Tomasz Adamek and “Fast” Eddie Chambers, and Saturday night’s middleweight contest between Julio Cesar Chavez Junior and Andy Lee. Here is a complete transcript from that interview:
Article posted on 15.06.2012
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hello everyone. This is Geoffrey Ciani from East Side Boxing and I am joined here by highly regarded trainer “Iceman” John Scully. How is everything going today, John?
JOHN SCULLY: Very well. I just got in from the gym and I’m ready to talk.
CIANI: Good! Good to hear. The news of the boxing world, John, of course is still last weekend’s between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. I was wondering if you could give the fans out there your views on the fight and the official decision that was rendered by the judges?
***CLICK PLAYER TO LISTEN TO ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY
(running time – 20:28)
SCULLY: Well I’ll tell you first off, I actually missed the first like three or four rounds. We were up at the Hall of Fame in Canastota, and we got to the place where they were showing the fight late. So I missed the first few rounds. I was told by several people there that the rounds that I had missed, that Bradley had won them and everyone seemed to be pretty clear that he had won them. So you know I was just going off that, but for the rest of the fight the vibe for me was that Manny was winning the fight. I didn’t see it close enough. It was on the big screen, but there was a lot of people there and there was a lot of yelling and stuff. I don’t know if I can say it was like a brutal robbery, but the general vibe in the room where I was at, at the Hall of Fame with a lot of people, was that Pacquiao was winning the fight?
CIANI: Now based on what you did see, John, did it appear to you at all that Pacquiao is beginning to show his age and that maybe he’s starting to slow down a little bit, where in the championship rounds where he usually excels and throws a lot of punches—did it seem to you like he is maybe starting to show a little bit of decline?
SCULLY: Well there is a few different ways for me to look at it. I’ll tell you one thing that did strike me, for what it’s worth. As I watched the both of them as I watched the fight, I generally in big fights like that especially at that weight, you know I always think of Leonard and Hearns in the first fight. In my era that was the big, big, big fight. Even comparing it to this fight or even comparing it to De La Hoya-Trinidad, I don’t feel any two welterweights since ’81 have exhibited that kind of skill. You know I thought both guys looked off balance quite a bit. They missed a lot of punches. It’s not like they just missed the target. I mean they just flat out missed! They just missed everything. I think of Leonard and Hearns, because Ray and Tommy were both at the Hall of Fame. So it’s just kind of weird that they were both there and I was thinking wow! When these two guys fought there was no disputing the skill level. Watching Pacquiao-Bradley there was so much missing, and they were off balance quite a bit. I was kind of surprised. For a fight at that level I was kind of surprised how much they were off balance and missing. One thing I’m thinking, which I was afraid of for both guys, even for Mayweather—with all of the talk and anticipation of Pacquiao facing Mayweather, it could be a thing where every fight that he doesn’t fight Mayweather becomes more of a letdown to a certain degree. It’s hard to stay as razor sharp as you need to be when you want to fight Mayweather, everybody wants you to fight Mayweather, and that’s the fight everybody expects to see. So it could be something along those lines. I wouldn’t necessarily jump the gun just yet and say that it is age, which is certainly a possibility. But I think at that level, and with this kind of anticipation with Mayweather, and with all of the things going on, I think there are a lot of different intangibles that affect performance other than just age.
CIANI: Now you mentioned the Mayweather fight and that’s obviously the match all boxing fans, die hard and casual fans alike, have wanted to see going on three years now. Do you think with this decision, they’re talking a rematch in November and Floyd is obviously serving his time now, do you think this makes the possibility of that fight ever happening even more remote than it already seems?
SCULLY: Oh sure! I mean to me, even before the controversial decision with Marquez, I know me personally, I was at the point where I was just like, “You know what? I don’t care if they ever fight! I’m just sick of these two guys.” So I don’t care if they ever fight, and then when the Marquez decision came up, which a lot of people thought he lost, and if he didn’t lose he certainly didn’t look stellar. I thought that did a lot of damage to it, and I think this fight kind of puts it where I think more and more people, more people than ever before are saying, “You know what? He’s a good fighter, he’s explosive, but he can’t touch Mayweather.” I think they all outsmarted themselves and I think they’ve blown it, because there was a time when a lot of people thought Pacquiao would win and thought he was going to be an excellent threat to Mayweather, and I thought that was the draw. Now I think even serious but rational Pacquiao fans kind of don’t think he can beat Mayweather. I definitely think even if they came out tomorrow and said, “Guess what! We’re fighting December 10! Pacquiao and Mayweather are fighting.” I think there is still a reason to watch it, but the anticipation level has been dulled. The only thing he can do is come back and if he spectacularly knocks out Bradley, and he says, “You know what, I’m back, I was dull before and I wasn’t as enthused, but I’m back and I want Mayweather!” Then I think something would happen, but if he doesn’t come back super spectacular, I think that ship has sailed in terms of that level of anticipation that it had.
CIANI: Now as we mentioned, they’re talking a November rematch for Pacquiao and Bradley. Which fighter, in your view, benefits more from having had the experience of facing the other guy the first time around? Who benefits more in a rematch in your view?
SCULLY: You know what? It depends on each guy! I mean it could be if Pacquiao says, “I wasn’t as focused on this guy as I needed to be. I was doing my politics, and I was doing this, and I was praying”, and all of these different things that he’s been involved with. Maybe he says, “You know what? This guy’s a real threat and I really need to get serious!” Or it could be a thing where Bradley says, “You know what? I expected so much more out of him, and now that I see he isn’t everything I built him up to be in my head. Now I’m going to really show you what I got!” I guess it depends on each guy. I guess if both guys are thinking along those lines it could be a much better fight. They can put more on the line. You know my gut feeling is that Pacquiao would do better in a rematch.
CIANI: Changing things up here a little bit John, your fighter Chad Dawson is taking on Andre Ward on September 8 at the 168 pound limit. What are your thoughts on the fight and, in particular, the fact that your fighter is going to have to come down in weight for the first time in some time?
SCULLY: Well I mean I know a lot of people are concerned, but the thing is about Chad, he comes into camp and he comes in relatively light. So for a light heavyweight he’s actually amazing and I’ll give you an example. For the first day of training for the Hopkins fight, for the rematch, I actually remarked to him and to everybody that was in the room, “Wow! Look at this guy. It’s his first day in the gym and he looks like he’s ready to fight right now. His body looks great!” I specifically remember saying, “If we took a picture of him right now and showed people they’d go, wow! The fight must be tomorrow. He’s ready.” So he’s just that kind of kid. He doesn’t blowup between fights like a lot of other guys. I mean I was a light heavyweight and I used to frequently start training for fights, and I would weigh 202, 198, 199. I don’t think Chad’s ever been 190 in his life, and he’s certainly never been much over that in his entire life. So the weight isn’t going to be the issue that everybody thinks it is.
The thing I like about the fight is just the fact, and it’s really amazing if you think about it. I think people might not really realize the magnitude of what’s happened here. I mean you get two guys. You got this guy Chad Dawson. He comes off his win over Bernard Hopkins. It’s a huge win. You know a big, big, big, big win! The fight isn’t even two minutes old and he’s calling out the best guy in the weight class below him, the guy that everybody’s high on, pound-for-pound he’s got to be no worse than number three, and Chad in effect is saying I don’t want to go for an easy fight or what people view as a simple tune-up fight. I want to go right to this guy! Then they go back and they say well the fight is going to be in his hometown, and it’s going to be at 168, and he basically said, “Fine! Fine! Fine! Whatever it takes to make the fight I’m doing it!” You don’t see that. If Mayweather and Pacquiao thought like Chad Dawson, they would have already $35 million apiece. Chad was able to make a huge fight, in a matter of days they ironed out the details, and he’s going to make a heck of a lot less than $30 million.
So people need to realize what kind of fighter they’re dealing with. Not that anybody is scared, but I can name you plenty of top guys who would never go to a guy like Andre Ward’s hometown. It just wouldn’t happen. They wouldn’t settle for that. And Chad went to Montreal to fight Pascal, he went to New Jersey to fight Hopkins, which is only less than 30 minutes from Philadelphia. So you have a very willing guy here. You may not necessarily be a fan of his style all the time, but I think Chad Dawson deserves a ton of respect from boxing fans for the way he approaches getting fights like the Ward fight done!
CIANI: Now you mentioned the Hopkins fight. Going into the fight with Bernard a lot of people viewed it as a lose-lose situation for Chad, because if he won the fight, as he did, he beat a 47 year old man, and if he lost the fight he lost to a 47 year old man! But in this instance with Andre Ward a lot of people are viewing it as a win-win situation for Chad, because if he does wind up on the short end of a decision, he’s in a situation where he came down in weight, and he’s going to Oakland as you mentioned. And if he wins, he’s in a situation where as you mentioned he called the guy out, he went down to his weight class to face him, and won another world title. Do you view things this way in that light?
SCULLY: I suppose that it’s true what you say, but I certainly don’t want to necessarily live like that. I don’t want to look at it like we have anything to fall back on. Like someone said to me, “Wow this is really great because if you lose you’re still light heavyweight champion!” You know I don’t like thinking that way. I don’t want to think that way. We’re going to win, I want to win, I think he can win, I think he should win, and that’s the mindset we have. I don’t ever want to think that we have anything to fall back on. We want to go forward, and win, and be superior. The way people talk about Andre Ward, that’s how we want people to talk about us.
CIANI: When I look at Andre Ward, John, I see a guy that I’ve long described as a younger version of an older Bernard Hopkins. Do you see it that way to some extent?
SCULLY: Oh sure. Yeah. I think a lot of people see that, you know which I guess you could say is a compliment. He gets it done. I mean Andre Ward gets it done against the people he fights. He adjusts very well. You know the thing is that he’s going to have to worry about and that he’s going to have to deal with is Chad Dawson. You know he’s dealt so far with what he’s been facing and he’s done an excellent job, Andre Ward has. But Chad Dawson is a different breed of fighter. He’s a different style. You know Andre never fought anybody like Chad, and I feel like it’s that much of a difference that it’s going to be beneficial to us.
CIANI: Now since Lucian Bute lost to Carl Froch, a lot of people are saying Ward should have moved up to 175 because Bute was kind of his unfinished business at 168. So having Chad come down to 168 if Bute had won would kind of make more sense. But after Bute lost against Carl Froch did you think maybe that the fight might wind up taking place at 175 and would you have preferred that maybe?
SCULLY: I mean ideally you would prefer it because you would think that a guy would want to come up in weight and conquer a new division. I’ll say this, and the reality is I have nothing bad to say about Andre Ward. He seems like a great guy, he’s an excellent super, super fighter and everything. But it just needs to be pointed out that Chad is the one making the concessions here. Andre didn’t want to go up in weight, which I realized right after the fight with Hopkins it would be at 168. But guys generally go up and try to conquer the new weight classes. That’s what the great fighters do, but Andre wasn’t for that. Once the promoters got together I think they said, “Hey we should do it at light heavy.” And he said, “Nope! No way!” Okay! What about the site? And he didn’t want to do it away from Oakland. So on one hand I give him tremendous credit for taking the fight, but on the other hand he certainly has plenty of reasons to say, “Okay! This is in my favor, and this is in my favor, and this concession has been made.” And the television people really seem to like Andre, so he’s going to have a subconscious advantage there, too. You know Chad has one defeat, which in my eyes there’s an asterisk next to it. He was on his way to stopping Pascal at the moment the head-butt freakishly occurred. Chad is an elite fighter and he’s coming in and he’s accepting these disadvantages just to get the fight done! He just wants the fight. He’s that confident, and I give my guy a lot of credit. I think it’s just going to be very, very interesting, and ideally we’re in a situation that we don’t necessarily wish to be in, but we’re accepting them as they are and we’re coming to win.
CIANI: I just wanted to get your thoughts quickly also John, Chad and Andre both also spoke about this fight a little bit on HBO before the Pacquiao fight had began. Carl Froch scored an upset victory against Lucian Bute. Were you surprised and what did you think of it?
SCULLY: To be honest with you I had actually picked Froch to win. I don’t exactly remember the website, but one of the websites asked me for a prediction and I predicted he would win. That much I can say. But I’m not going to lie and say I thought it was going to be like that, because I didn’t think it was going to be anything like that. I was very surprised with the manner in which he dominated the fight. You know I didn’t think that would happen. I thought it would be a decision, I thought it would be relatively close, but I thought Froch would be a little awkward and throw Bute off his game. So I was right, but I was wrong. I mean he did much more than I thought he would do.
CIANI: I just have a couple of more questions here for you, and I want to get your views on some fights coming up this weekend. One of those is a heavyweight showdown between two contenders, smaller guys in the heavyweight division. Tomasz Adamek is taking on “Fast” Eddie Chambers. What do you think of that matchup and how do you think it’s going to go down?
SCULLY: I think it’s an excellent match actually between two relatively smaller heavies. I think they both have a lot of skill. You know you see good heavyweights with skill, but you don’t always necessarily always see two of them against each other who have obvious boxing skills. I think it’s going to be a fight for boxing purists. You know I really like Eddie Chambers and it’s not like out of the realm of possibility that he wins it. If he does it won’t necessarily be an upset in my view, but if I had to bet $10 I think I would bet on Adamek. I think Adamek has the momentum. Even with his loss to Klitschko I think he’s kept that momentum. I think he’s a very smart guy. I’ve read interviews with him after the fight. I think he knows what he needs to do in terms of staying focused. I just feel like all things considered I find it hard to pick against Adamek.
CIANI: Now the other fight I’d like to get your views on involves Julio Cesar Chavez Junior, and he will be taking on Emanuel Steward trained fighter Andy Lee. How do you see that one going down?
SCULLY: I guess you could say if you went by your first reaction instantly I guess I would pick Chavez, but considering the circumstances and the whole vibe to the whole thing I consider Andy Lee a very live underdog. I think he’s very talented and he fights with a very loose style. If he can be elusive I think he gives Chavez a lot of trouble. But I like Chavez and I think he’s underrated by a lot of people. I think he’s much better than people are giving him credit for. I wouldn’t bet on it, but if I had to bet $5 I think I would bet on Chavez.
CIANI: John for my final question for you, is there anything you would like to say to all the boxing fans out there and all the readers of East Side Boxing?
SCULLY: You know what, I just really appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed. I just continue to be enthused that people even ask me to be interviewed. I love talking about boxing. I’ve been watching boxing since I was probably eleven years old, and I just love to talk about it and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do so.
CIANI: Well John, as always it was an absolute pleasure speaking to you. I thank you for your time and for sharing your insight, and I wish you the best of luck going forward.
SCULLY: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
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