BN: After successive defeats, how do you reflect on your victory last month, against Isaac Munoz Gutierrez?
I had a good fight. A good performance. I could’ve did a little more. But I did what I could in the time I had to get ready and prepare for the fight, so, overall, I had a good performance. But, you know, I’m just a huge critic of myself so I feel like I could’ve did a little better, but I was trying a new style – trying some new things – and, you know, just back to the drawing board.
[My new style involved] just trying to be more aggressive – come forward more. I fight better off the back leg, so my coach has been wanting me to come forward instead of moving back so much. So just trying to be the aggressor more.
In a sense [that’s a response to my defeats], because I feel like I could have been more aggressive in those fights. So, yeah, that’s a part of it.
It’s always a huge relief to win, but you can’t beat yourself up too much, you know? Boxing is a very hard sport; we put our lives on the line; we train very hard, so a loss can be very depressing for people. But I go back to the gym; we watch film; I see what mistakes I made; what I could have perfected or what I could have did better. So I never really look at it as a disappointing thing – it’s more of a lesson. [Losing] didn’t affect my confidence.
BN: Despite not being a Matchroom fighter, you were prominent on a Matchroom bill for the third fight in succession. Had you been promised other opportunities in the event of victory?
No, I haven’t been promised any more opportunities. I haven’t heard anything but I wanna rematch both of them [Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua]. I wanna avenge both of my losses.
BN: Then, what’s next?
Hopefully we stay at the top. Hopefully I can be back in the ring, by November, December. I’m back in the gym, just training real hard and keep perfecting my craft. Working on all my new style we’ve been trying to bring forward, and hopefully we can get something – we can get a call.
BN: How good is Dillian Whyte?
He’s a good fighter. He’s hard bodied; he’s not soft; he’s got a hard will and he comes to fight; he’s got some grit in him and he comes to fight. I think a lot of people don’t respect him but I tell a lot of people he took a lot of hard fights. He took a lot of fights that guys wouldn’t take, so, I give him his respect where it’s due. Arguably [he’s still one of the world’s best heavyweights], but you know, that list changes all the time.
BN: How good is Anthony Joshua?
Joshua is good; he got nice power; he just lacks confidence to me. He just lacks confidence to me but he’s good; he’s got a nice jab; he’s got a nice right-hand counter.
BN: So Joshua is better than Whyte?
Skills-wise, yes. But Whyte got – it’s kinda hard to accumulate talent when you do with certain fighters. ‘Cause I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of fighters than have more skills than me, but there’s not a lot of fighters that have more heart than me. There’s not a lot of fighters that are going to push it to the limit like I would say that I would, but skills-wise, yeah, Joshua is the better fighter skills-wise. But Dillian can pour that grit and that heart out.
Whyte was more confident when we fought. He had more faith in his abilities. Joshua was stronger; Joshua was stronger. I can take both though – I got a chance. I don’t really get hurt, but Joshua is stronger. He’s a stronger puncher.
BN: What’s your take on Joshua squaring up to you after the final bell of your fight?
Honestly, I don’t know. It was crazy confusing. So, like, me and him were talking trash to each other, back and forth during the fight; beginning of the fight. So at the end of the fight, I’m trying to go congratulate his people, but he put his head on me – he’s talking but I can’t really understand what he’s saying. So it’s like he’s kinda pushing me back and I’m like, “Get off me”. I push him off me and then he just gets to talking a whole bunch of nonsense. He apologised to say that it was the heat-of-the-passion-type thing, but you know, it’s just sports. He apologised in the ring.
I mean, you know, we come from different demographics, so like I’m from a place where if somebody is doing something like that, and they want problems, then we’re not shying away from it. I’ll just say that. It’s not like we’re trying to start nothing, but I’m from a place where we’re not backing out. We’re not shy from nothing. In my head, I didn’t want a problem, but if he was going to make it a problem, I was all for it.
The “AJ” fight affected my attitude a bit. I’m usually a calm person but I was kind of riled up. I couldn’t concentrate; I couldn’t focus so it was kind of letting my anger get the best of me. I don’t wanna say I wasn’t focused but that’s a part of it, ‘cause if I let my anger get me out of my game plan that’s still considered me losing focus. So we’ve been practicing standing aggressive; working on my anger stance and keeping myself under control.
[I was] arguing with the ref [Marcus McDonnell]. AJ started collar tying; started stiff-arming and pushing down on the head when I was trying to come in. And he just started collar tying and pulling me in close. There was one time he was collar tying and I’m telling the ref. I’m looking at the ref like, “He’s doing it right now”, and the ref said he doesn’t see anything, and me and the ref were arguing there for that moment. If you go back and watch the fight AJ did it a lot of times – when he threw uppercuts. He would grab the back of my neck and throw an uppercut. That’s an illegal punch, but you know, it is what it is.
I had the perfect game plan. He can’t match my speed. He’s strong, but the power wasn’t fazing me. He can’t match my speed – my punch output is higher than his so, honestly, if I didn’t get mad at the ref or my focus got turned to the ref, I honestly think I could’ve won that fight. I could’ve pulled it off. I mean, they won’t admit it; the fans wouldn’t admit it; even the way they showed it on TV. But, you know, the first four rounds I was doing my job.
[The plan was] to counter him, because he’s slower than me, and I thought that Derrick James was gonna have him more aggressive than what he actually was. So my plan was to kind of be aggressive but to get him to come forward so I can counter off the back-foot. Once I got out of my game plan it was kind of like an out-of-body experience – you ever had a situation where you’re there physically but you’re not there mentally? It was kinda that situation.
BN: You fought him in his first fight under Derrick James. Should much more be expected of him this weekend?
That’s the thing – he’s not young. He’s kinda seasoned already, so it comes to a point to how much can the new coach actually teach you? Or how much can he show you? So, really, it’s like you’re trying to learn something new when you have old habits in your new style, so now you’ve gotta try to erase the old habits and try to incorporate the new thing in. Not saying that it can’t happen – it just takes time. I don’t know if he’s been with [James] enough time to be able to make the full adjustments like they want, ‘cause it’s still short notice. They’re still learning each other.
It really depends on the student. You gotta think of the coach as like a teacher. Depending on how good the student is, that depends on how fast the student will learn and be able to use what he learned. I still feel like it’s kinda still early. You might see some glimpses of [improvements], but I don’t think you’re gonna see the whole thing by now.
BN: As his most recent opponent, how did you feel about news of Whyte failing a drugs test?
Like he probably used them when we fought. I heard this ain’t the first time, so I’m figuring he was probably doing it when we fought too. I didn’t feel anything that didn’t feel right [when we fought, last November].
It pisses me off [when fighters cheat]. I get enraged. We train our whole lives – we train hard – we give it our all and then people just come in and take advantage and cheat. It’s not fair to the ones that live the sport – the ones that really love and care about the sport. It’s not fair to us. People die from doing this sport. People get life-changing experiences. People like that are probably the people that are damaging other people. It’s fucked up.
It should not be allowed – people should get [permanently] banned from the sport. I understand if you’ve taken a drug that’s on the banned substance list then you can get a suspension, but if you’re taking PEDs [performance-enhancing drugs] and you get caught taking them more than one time your ass should be banned from boxing. You’re a hazard to people’s health. Promoters need to think about that too. If you’ve got a guy who’s caught taking PEDs, wouldn’t he be hurtful to your business – to you making money as a promoter? People gotta think about this shit full circle. These guys taking PEDs can potentially alter somebody’s life, and then promoters, you got a fighter you wasted so much fucking money on you can’t even get a fight for them. Nobody wants to fight them ‘cause they take steroids.
I feel sorry for [Joshua] on the aspect of we train so hard we be ready to fight – there’s a lot of built-up aggression at the end of those camps. We ready to let go, and now you can’t. Sometimes it can make you frustrated or a little snappy at times. I just hope he’s okay, ‘cause boxing sometimes can be a real frustrating sport.
I would still want to fight [in Joshua’s position]. I didn’t just work my ass off in training for nothing. The replacement fighter hasn’t been getting ready for him either. He might have been in the gym but that doesn’t mean he’s been practising for your type of fight.
BN: How big a problem do you consider PEDs in boxing?
It’s a huge problem. I think PEDS are widely used. Not just in boxing but a lot of sports – they’re widely used. I’ve been hearing people have ways to mask it, so you can pass tests. If that’s the case PEDs are massively used and we just don’t know who’s using them.
I’ve heard athletes – you do have people giving you supplements – where some don’t even know they’re taking steroids. They think they’re taking pills or supplements. I hope boxing can make it clean for the athletes that really care about the sport.
BN: As a rival heavyweight, how do you feel about Francis Ngannou getting the lucrative opportunity he is against Tyson Fury?
It’s frustrating for us, as boxers, because we’re in this sport doing it day-in, day-out. But, you know, it’s no disrespect – he’s a fighter too, even though he comes from a different fighting background. I guess it’s something the fans want to see, but yeah, it’s a little frustrating. Guys like us – any boxer – honestly, we wait, we wait, we wait and we wait for these opportunities and then guys just come and get ‘em, and we’ve been boxing for four or five years trying to get an opportunity that a guy come get in a couple months with no boxing experience.
From what I’ve seen in MMA he can hit, but like I tell a lot of people it’s not MMA. The gloves are different; you only can use your hands if you get tired; you can’t slam or kick nobody, so you know it’s a whole different ball game. I like MMA. I’m a huge combat sports guy.
BN: Is Fury the best heavyweight in the world?
I think I’m the best heavyweight in the world – I ain’t gonna lie to you about that. But I like Tyson Fury. I like his skills; he’s got good skills to be a big man; he’s not super fast but his timing is great. His timing is great, and he can land punches that you don’t think he’d throw. So, you know, he’s a big guy who knows how to use the ring; he got a good left and he’s got great timing.
BN: How confident are you that he’ll eventually fight Oleksandr Usyk?
Hopefully it happens. I was so disappointed when they did that last shit about the contract, and no rematch clause and all that. I don’t understand it – I don’t see how you think a world champion is gonna fight you without a rematch clause in his contract. Hopefully it do happen – that’s something I do wanna see. I’m a fan of the sport too so that’s something I do wanna see. I was all glued to the TV watching for [Terence] Crawford and [Errol] Spence.
I told people Crawford was gonna win. I’m not hating on Spence – he’s a hell of a fighter. But it’s just the style; how they fight. Errol fits into TC’s style ‘cause TC is like an in-the-pocket fighter but he moves and he’s great at counterpunching. So I think Errol’s aggressiveness kind of fits into how Crawford fight.
I’m 50-50 at that [Fury-Usyk]. I know a lot of people are saying Tyson but a lot of people are sleeping on Usyk’s skills. Tyson got the best jab, though, so I think Tyson probably can win it with the jab but Usyk’s got way more skills than people think, so I’m kind of 50-50 with that fight. I think Usyk is a really slept-on guy. I know he came up from cruiserweight, but he’s not trying to kill anybody [with knockout power] – he’s just out there, boxing.