Including the first Hopkins fight and now this coming one with Spinks, you will have fought three men with tremendous boxing skills and terrific defense, a fighter's nightmare. I can't recall a new champion who found himself with four fights out of five in which the people he is trying to hit are almost un-hittable. How frustrating has that been for you?
Those three fights have made me a much better fighter and I learned from all of them. Frustration would not be the word...difficult would be better. All three fighters would be difficult for any fighter to fight
Do you think having to fight Bernard and Winky in three fights where it was very hard for you to look spectacular, has kept you from building a bigger fan base than you already have?
Let's not forget that Bernard and Winky have never been knocked out. I can't even remember if they have ever been knocked down in their careers.* As far as building a bigger fan base, I'm still young and have time with more fights to build a big following, It takes time for some fighters, but one thing I have is Arkansas. I have the whole State behind me and that means more to me than anything.
The upside, I guess, is after you fight those two and Spinks, you should be ready for anything a fighter can bring.
Well, almost anything. Cory is a very good fighter and I have a lot of respect for him. We have know each other since we where amateurs and fighting in the same tournaments. I know he will be well prepared to take my belts and I won't be taking him lightly.
A lot has been said that Spinks is too small to make a competitive fight with you. Here are some facts I'd like you to comment on: While Spinks is just 5-9, from his father he inherited a big bone structure. His trainer says he can naturally fit into 160 pounds. His father Leon fought and beat Ali weighing just 197 pounds to 224 for Ali. His uncle Michael beat Holmes weighing 199 pounds to 221 for Holmes. Cory's older brother Darrell, who was also 5-9, fought his entire career at light heavyweight. So these Spinks guys can fight bigger than their size, wouldn't you say?
That's a very good point, Cory has a large upper frame and he can carry 160 without any problems. I have seen Cory develop as a fighter and most people don't know he has worked out with guys much bigger than he is. He is also a world champion and you have to respect that with any fighter. I have said this before, if I went into this fight thinking Cory is too small, that would be a big mistake. Size does not always win fights.
Spinks is a reigning junior middleweight champion, and to win his title he beat a 6-feet 1-inch Roman Karmazin. In his next fight, Karmazin moved up to middleweight. Spinks' last fight was against another taller boxer, Rodney Jones, who is also 6-feet 1-inch. Given this, do you feel some people have been too harsh on you about fighting junior middleweights moving up?
I'm not the kind of fighter who reads his press clipping all the time and is affected by what other people say. I know there are people out in the media saying certain things about me, but I'm not overly sensitive to those kind of remarks. I try to focus on the things I should be thankful for such as being in the position I'm in today as the Middleweight Champion of the world. Life was not easy for me and my family growing up and I know what hard times are, so when someone says this or that about me it just bounces right off. All I can do is keep learning under Emanuel Steward, stay focused, make sure my preparation is good and perform the best I can.
Anybody fighting Jermain Taylor is guaranteed a big payday. Yet several top fighters this past year have turned down contracts with you. Why do you think that is?
That's something you are going to have to ask those who have choose not to fight me. I will let them speak for themselves.
If you have seen tape of Spinks' loss to Zab Judah (TKO, 2005), what did you learn about how to neutralize his movement and defensive skills?
I have studied tapes of Cory's fight with Zab, but to be honest with you I don't want to give any secrets away. Somebody will read this and take it back to Cory and you never know, it just may be something that can help him. I don't want to give him any help.
Does Spinks do anything different with his style and defense than Bernard and Winky?
First, Bernard was a right handed fighter and Winky is like Spinks (southpaw). To answer your question, yes. From a southpaw stance, his style is much different than Winky's. Cory is in and out a lot of times. Winky has good defense which is really his offense. Very different fighters.
How important to you, in terms of winning over fans, is it that you really look great in this fight and that the fight is exciting?
I'm no different than any other fighter, you always want to look good and put on a great performance. I don't want to get too hung up on how well I look, because what's important is that I fight my fight and win. You can look good and lose a fight, and I'm not planning on losing.
What would you like to accomplish most before you retire, and how would you like to be remembered?
Sooner or later I'm going to have to move up to 168 and even 175, so I would want to be a world champion in those weight divisions. I would like to be known as a warrior who no matter what, would fight to the end.