It’s been four months since my interview with boxing coach Highland Sizer and I feel like its time for me to pick his brain a little bit on boxing, and maybe get a prediction or two out of him.
Keith: Welcome back coach! It’s always a pleasure to have our boxing discussions. How’s life treating you?
Highland: Thanks, glad to be back with you. Everything is good, looking forward to some good boxing this year.
Keith: As a former boxer, what was your preparation for a fight like and how much time went into it?
Highland: It depends, for an amateur bout, it would take me at least two solid months to prepare. For a pro fight, it would take at least 4 to 5 months to be ready. That includes your roadwork, your work in the gym, working the heavy bag, mitts, jumping rope, speed bag etc. I am real big on getting real good sparring in. Nothing gets you ready like sparring because if you have a good sparring partner you can get good work in. You can look great on the heavy bag, but once you get in there with a live opponent, you can really tell if your conditioning is up to par as well as things you need to work on, such as relaxation in the ring or especially defense.
Keith: Knowing the obvious, what concerned you the most during competition?
Highland: The one thing that always concerns most fighters is if I trained hard enough. I think that is what goes through my mind when I would look at my opponent. “Did I push myself to do extra rounds on the bag…Did I really put in work?” Its a battle against myself.
Keith: Ok, its fight night! What’s the most important thing to remember before stepping into the ring?
Highland: You have to remember to relax. Breathe! Pace yourself! Sometimes the adrenaline is pumping so hard, you forget everything you worked on in the gym.
Keith: What has it been like transitioning into the role of boxing trainer?
Highland: Its been great; I’ve loved the sport since I was a kid. When I decided not to make a pro career out of boxing, I wanted to remain involved in the sport. I started a club in Kentland, Maryland that trained kids. Several of the kids won some major Boxing tournaments. After that I started training adults at a boxing gym in Arlington,Virginia.
Highland: Tough question. There’s been so many. If I had to pick one it would be the fight between Diego Corrales and Jose Castillo back in 2005. That bout stands out the most for me! It was so many memorable moments in that fight and it was voted fight of the year. Seeing those guys battle back and fourth was incredible. To me, it was like watching Ray Leonard vs Tommy Hearns!
Keith: Who do you like in this decade to reign supreme?
Highland: You have to respect Manny Pacquiao, for the fact that he has won titles in seven different weight classes, that’s hall of fame stuff for sure. So I would say Pacquiao with Floyd Mayweather Jr as an honorable mention.
Keith: What’s your take on the reason why Pacquiao vs Mayweather never happen? Who’s at fault? Are we ever going to see this fight?
Highland: I think that because there has been an undercurrent of questions about how Manny is able to move up to different weight classes, and not only compete, but dominate bigger guys started all of the speculation about him taking steroids. I think it really started when Floyd’s dad, Floyd Mayweather Sr., mentioned that most guys that move up in weight lose either power or speed, and he couldn’t figure out how Manny didn’t lose either. I personally think that boxing has seen some foul play already this decade, behind the Margarito incident with the cement wrap job, so why not just take the test to let the fans know you’re clean? I think Manny should have taken the test and went on to possibly secure his legacy if he were to beat Floyd. I still think that at the end of the day money talks, so after these guys take their next fight, we’ll see them battle.
Keith: Which fight is going to be the biggest draw, Manny Pacquiao vs Joshua Clottey or Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Shane Mosley?
Highland: Definitely Floyd vs Shane! I have been waiting on this one. Since we didn’t get to see Shane Mosley vs Andre Berto, this one should be better. I think Shane still has enough skill left to make this a great fight. He has a great new trainer in Nazeem Richardson, which made the difference in him beating Margarito.
Keith: Any predictions?
Highland: I wouldn’t bet money against Floyd Mayweather right now. The performance he put on in the Juan Marquez fight was a boxing clinic! I think Floyd would win on points, but it’s going to be a war!
Keith: Ever since Mayweather came out of retirement, there’s been a lot of hate coming from boxing fans towards him. What’s going on with that? Is the hate justified?
Highland: People still don’t think Floyd has fought the best in the welterweight division. The opinion of most folks is that Floyd picks smaller guys that he knows he can out box. Also, people aren’t confident that Floyd gives the crowd enough acton. He’s too content with touching the guy and moving out of the way, and not mixing it up more with his opponent. If you become an educated fight fan, you’ll know that the sport is about hitting and not getting hit. So I think people need to look at the Diego Coralles fight, the Castillo fight, and even the Zab Judah fight, and see that he’s fought some tough guys.
Keith: After being knocked out by Mayweather and Pacquiao, what’s your view on Ricky Hatton’s legacy?
Highland: For me, Ricky Hatton’s legacy says he’s a tough fighter who always comes to fight. I don’t think he should be mentioned in the top ten fighters of all-time list. To me, what elevated his status was when he made Koysta Tszyu quit in their fight. Other than that, he’s just another tough brawler to me.
Keith: Is André Berto the real deal? Does he have the potential to be the next “Pound for Pound” king?
Highland: I think he does, but he has to get back to what made him dangerous and that’s his speed. In the Luis Collazo fight, he arguably lost because it seemed like he was trying too hard to knock Collazo out. He has definitely been in the weight room. He’s bulkier than I’ve seen him in past fights. When Berto lets his hands go, like in the Steve Forbes fight, he looks like the truth! But when you look at the bout against Juan Urango it looks like he wants to power punch and that shouldn’t be his game plan.
Keith: My last question, I promise! February 11, 2010 marked the 20th anniversary of the Mike Tyson vs Buster Douglas bout and arguably the greatest upset in professional sports history. What is your greatest memory of that epic bout?
Highland: My greatest memory of the bout is when Buster knocked Mike down and Tyson reached for his mouthpiece, and put it back in his mouth the wrong way. I was totally shock! Not Mike! I along with everybody else thought Tyson was unbeatable.
I would like to thank coach Sizer once again for taking the time out to sit down with me to discuss the sport we both love.
By Keith Madyun/Highland Sizer