Exclusive Interview With “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon - “I Think Haye Could Be In For A Long Night
By James Slater: Former two-time heavyweight king “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon spends as much time in the U.K as he does in his home country these days. Exceptionally busy and as popular as ever, the 54-year-old is currently in London, doing some work for BoxNation ahead of tonight’s massive heavyweight grudge-match between David Haye and Dereck Chisora.
Article posted on 14.07.2012
It was during a break from his live T.V work at the Upton Park Stadium that I was able to grab some of Tim’s time and speak to him about a number of things: tonight’s fight, his own great career and some other subjects. As sharp as a tack and happy to talk, the Philly legend who retired with a fine 55-13-1(38) record in 2003 was speaking with unbeaten heavyweight hope David Price as I called him (“You’ll have to call me back,” Tim said), yet he kindly gave ESB twenty minutes or so shortly after talking with the 2008 Olympian.
Always an interesting figure to talk with, Tim had the following things to say:
James Slater: Thanks so much for your time, Champ! I’ve just been watching you on BoxNation T.V..
Tim Witherspoon: How did I come across?
J.S: You looked great, and you had some good words of wisdom. Also, you don’t look a day over 35!
T.W: Oh, man, you’re just saying that!
J.S: No, honestly. Anyway, you said on T.V that you don’t really like to call a winner between Haye and Chisora, so you’ll probably give me the same answer?
T.W: Well, I don’t like to say but - I think David Haye is in for a tough fight. Chisora can take a great punch and it could be a long night for Haye. Klitschko and Fury hit Dereck with hard shots and they couldn’t budge him. I know Haye can punch, but if Chisora can get inside and if he hits him it could be over. We watched some tapes, and Carl Thompson and a few other guys hurt Haye and they weren’t really hard shots. So if Chisora can get in on his chest and if he can catch him, he could win it. Also, if Haye is not in top shape…..
J.S: He certainly looks in great shape, but appearances can be deceptive. You know all that because of your fight with Frank Bruno, who was built like a statue yet you smashed him.
T.W: Exactly, appearances can be deceptive. But I knew more than Bruno. I chopped wood and stuff like that for that fight and I was in shape. They gave me 12 cases of orange juice in London - my team never knew about it - and that put some weight on for me. Bruno had a great team around him, but I knew more than he did.
J.S: And you had better stamina than Bruno, and some fans have compared Chisora to you in that respect - he keeps on coming like you did and he gets stronger in the later rounds…..
T.W: Well, the Chisora fights I’ve seen, he dissipates later on. In the Fury fight he couldn’t organise his punches and he never knew how to preserve energy. I saw the Klitschko fight and he did well in that, but I think someone needs to sit him down and teach him how to organise his shots, how to preserve energy. I knew that: how to slip punches and pick my own shots. If Dereck knew how to do that he’d be a better fighter. Like I said on T.V, I wish Joe Frazier was still alive, because he could teach these guys how to get on the inside and fight.
J.S: As you know, Tim, this fight has had a ton of publicity. Do you think it’s a good fight or a bad fight for boxing?
T.W: Oh, no! I know the glass breaking thing (in Munich) was bad, but these guys can lose their temper and things happen. I think a fine was the right thing, but to ban these guys forever? No. I think the British Board should have taken charge of this fight and handled it their way, that way they could have made more money. But for this fight not to have happened, I think that would have been bad for British boxing. Boxing needs help right now and this fight has helped with all the publicity its got. These guys aren’t criminals. They should be allowed to earn a living to feed their families.
J.S: Have you ever had an experience where a fighter has attacked you outside of the ring….
T.W: It happened with Riddick Bowe, when he hit Larry Donald at a press conference, and the fight went on. But me? Larry Holmes jumped over a chair to try and get at me (in 1983, ahead of their world title fight) and he also threw a towel in my face. But they never let it get out of hand, but if it had it would have been more publicity. We’d have sold more tickets!
J.S: Just talking about that great fight, and it was a great fight, a lot of people think you won it.
T.W: Nobody has ever told me I lost it!
J.S: Why did they give him the decision do you think? Because he was champ?
T.W: That and because he was chasing Rocky Marciano’s record. That was great publicity and it was in all the papers. They weren’t going to let a young kid like myself come in and ruin that.
J.S: As you said on T.V, we don’t see that kind of great heavyweight action today - that 9th-round which I think was Ring Magazine’s Round Of The Year that year, was awesome….
T.W: It was, and have you seen George Foreman-Ron Lyle?
J.S: Oh yeah, a true classic.
T.W: Yeah, it was. We watched that live on T.V and we were all going crazy and then my sister turned the T.V over! My brother went crazy and as he got up he hit his head on the T.V! He cut his head and needed stitches (laughs). That was a crazy fight!
J.S: Those were great days!
T.W: I know. They need to get boxing back to what it was back then. If I had the money, I’d get all the old greats like Tommy Hearns, Bugaloo Watts, Marvin Hagler, Willie the Worm, Sugar Ray, all those guys, out of retirement, not to fight but to train. We have a lot of great trainers in America, but they’re not getting the exposure they deserve. I have nothing against Freddie Roach, a great guy, but he’s only so well known because he has Pac-Man. I mean, Adam Booth, I have nothing against him, he’s a nice guy, but he’s a fitness trainer. He can’t teach Haye what to do. I just can’t rate him.
J.S: You have so much knowledge, why don’t you do more T.V commentary?
T.W: That’s what I’d love to do. I see how boxing operates at all different levels. And I’m a good guy: I never bit off anyone’s ears - don’t get me wrong, Mike’s [Tyson] my brother - but I was a good guy.
J.S: No doubt, and it’s great talking to you, Champ. My last question: another Philly fighter fights tonight, in Danny Garcia against Amir Khan - your pick for that one?
T.W: My son (Tim Witherspoon Junior, a 140-pound prospect) just sparred with Danny, in fact he knows him real well. Danny always looked like a future champion but then he moved to the west coast. I think Danny knows more than Khan does - he has different moves. Khan has a lot of momentum right now and he has religion on his side, but he still fights like an amateur. Khan has to redeem himself with this fight, so he’s gotta be mentally ready. But if Danny is up for it, Khan could be in trouble. It will be exciting, but I think Danny knows more - how to slip punches and stuff. I go with Danny on this one, and if there’s anybody getting KO’d it will be Khan. But Khan has a chance to win on points.
J.S: Thanks so much for your time, Tim - see you in the studio on BoxNation tonight!
T.W: Okay, call me any time.
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