A Cloud Forms in Corpus Christi
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Feb 15, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Tavoris Cloud
IBF light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud was scheduled to face Zsolt Erdei on New Year’s Eve in Anaheim, California. Cloud, 23-0 (9), a boxer who was once very active as he came up the ranks, had been stagnant in recent years. With just one fight in 2009 and two outings in 2010, after last June’s stoppage of Yusaf Mack, Cloud was looking forward to his latest assignment, hoping to build momentum for more impactful fights in 2012.
Then came the news that Erdei would be pulling out of their bout due to a hand injury. The Showtime broadcast would be scrapped, his future in doubt.
What was Cloud's reaction?
“Life sucks,” was how the typically soft-spoken gentleman from Tallahassee put it. But he admits to being frustrated. “Yes, I was but we got another opponent. Showtime, they stuck to their word and they're still putting me on. So I'm glad for that.”
This Saturday night in Corpus Christi, Texas at the American Bank Center, Cloud faces the tough Gabriel Campillo in what figures to be an entertaining and competitive affair. So what did Cloud do during his down time? Perhaps go fishing, as usual?
“I've been in camp since like the middle of October but other than that, yeah, I do a lot of fishing and go to events in the city that I stay in, talk to at-risk youth. Things of that  nature,” he explained. During this stretch, Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson had their aborted match-up. Quite frankly, not much else happened in this division. “I don't feel that the world is moving right past me. I feel like that the world is getting artificial boxing matches; that's how I feel. And I feel that when they finally get a chance to see Tavoris Cloud, they'll get the real thing.”
It's been a bit of a mystery why Cloud, who has a fan-friendly style, hasn't become a staple on either HBO or Showtime. After playing to strong reviews on HBO, where he earned plaudits from Larry Merchant, he was on the shelf the rest of the year. It has surprised his promoter, Don King.

“Yes, it has,” he admitted, “I'm very, very shocked and amazed because they talk about they want the best matches but yet it's not happening. But I'm going to give them a second chance. Now you got a new man in Stephen Espinoza at Showtime. I'm looking for bigger and better things from him. A new man at HBO now with Ken Hershman. So I'm going to look to see better and bigger things.”
King makes it clear, “Tavoris Cloud challenges everybody in the world to fight him. That's what we do. Let's drop the gauntlet and get right to it. From Bernard Hopkins on down, anyone who so will, let him come. We're calling them all out. I think [Cloud]'s the best in the world and I think he's the next Tyson and so he's a guy here we gotta bring out and give an opportunity to fight. Let's challenge everybody.”
Recently, attempts to make bouts against the likes of Jean Pascal bogged down over the issues of options. But the verbose promoter says that anyone willing to step up to the plate and take their cuts with Cloud will not have to deal with that issue, stating, “Any champion, we'll go winner-take-all. There's no such things as any kind of options with anybody, so we've said that right off the bat. Any challenger, they gotta do the same thing they make me do if they gonna come in there. And that's only fair and square. Whatever it is, it makes no difference. So we win, we win. If we lose, we lose. So he's ready to fight any and everybody. Maybe two of them on the same night.”
Cloud is at that stage where he's no longer that young fighter with a bright future. As famed NFL coach George Allen once said, ‘The future is now.’ This is a fighter who's in his prime moneymaking years.
“Oh, yeah, there was definitely a sense of urgency. When I turned 30, I realized my 20's were over and I just want to do everything I can to try to reach my goals of financial independence before I'm out of my 30's,” said Cloud, who celebrated his birthday on January the 10th.
During the stretch where he simply couldn't land a date on the premium cable networks, Cloud was reportedly getting a bit antsy but insisted, “There really wasn't frustration aimed towards Don King. I see things in a different way. I'm kind of a spiritual person and I feel that God is leading me through all this and all of this is just a test of my faith, a test of my patience. In due time, everything will come to fruition.”
In many respects, this is a referendum on Cloud’s promoter. The question is very simple: In 2012, is Don still capable of being a King-maker? There was a time when “DK” would have made Cloud a household name by now, performing on some of the biggest shows in the sport. But in recent years, without a Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez or Felix Trinidad as his clean-up hitter in his line-up, King was made persona non grata for the most part at HBO and Showtime. The veteran promoter says, “Tavoris is a good fighter. He's willing to fight and so we got to get some fights for him. We can't play with ourselves. These guys, they won’t fight and then the TV- as you so eloquently laid out- they have become the promoters and so if they don't want to buy Tavoris, unless we jump through hoops, that put us in a bad position. That's why I'm challenging everybody beforehand because if he loses, it won’t make no difference anyway; ya know what I mean?”
However, before we talk of any future showdowns with the likes of Hopkins, Dawson, Pascal or anyone else at 175, Cloud has a guy in Campillo that will not be an easy out. He's a tall, active southpaw who throws leather in bunches- and like Cloud, he's rarely in a bad fight. There is this question of whether or not ring rust will affect Cloud. His trainer, Al Bonanni, thinks his fighter will be just fine. “Don't forget; we had a good training camp for the first six weeks and we were ready for Zsolt Erdei and [Cloud] took that hard because it was only two or three weeks before the scheduled December 31st fight. So we felt bad. He was happy about the training. We had good sparring; everything was good. Neither one of us was happy how it was canceled but then he went home for Christmas and he stayed 10 days up there. 

“So [Cloud] was able to relax and have Christmas and New Years with his family and he came back January 2nd. So that broke it up and that made things a little bit better for him.”
Bonanni believes that it was key to have a break after the cancelation of the Erdei fight before restarting camp to prevent his charge from getting stale in the gym or getting fatigued mentally.
Cloud states there is no need to break out the WD-40. “No rust. Physically, I feel like I'm a caged beast that's used to the jungle. So let's ring the bell so they can let me loose. There's no rust. I did a lot of sparring this camp because the camp ended up being longer than it was supposed to be. I had three right-handers I was sparring with and then I ended up sparring with three southpaws. So I had a lot of sparring, young guys, fast guys. Y’ know, I'm ready for anything. The furthest thing I am is rusty.” He says of the Spaniard who will be across the ring from him, “Campillo, I don't know much about him. The only thing I know is on February 18th, he ain't going to be the new world champion. I know he's a tall southpaw and that's about it.”
Campillo is now trained by Gabriel Sarmiento (best known for his work with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez) and has trained out in Oxnard, California for this fight.

“I expect a little more of an aggressive Campillo,” said Bonnani. “I think he really believes that he can beat Cloud. So I think he feels that he's big and strong, although he has what, two knockouts? (Well, actually, Al, Campillo has eight stoppages in 26 professional bouts) He doesn't have many knockouts that I see but I don't think he's going to try to run. He's going to try to take it to Cloud and I hope so because then I won’t have to go up the stairs too much.”
Hopefully, it will be the first of many appearances from Cloud.
When asked how many times he'd like to fight in '12, he said without hesitation, “Five.”
“Five, six; if I had my choice, I'd fight them all this year.”
Here's an email I received recently from my old friend, “Battleship” Bill Pittman: 
Hi Steve, you had be cracking up pretty good when I read your match-making with Larry against Alverez. The line about crow being high in protein was pretty good too and in fact, the entire Final Furies was pretty funny! Nice job on the rest of the article too. It dovetailed nicely with the one you wrote about Hershman at HBO last week. Hope Showtime can continue the solid standard they’ve built for themselves over the last several years and not become a GB/Hayman auxiliary.
My two cents on Mosley against Alverez, is the same as the projected Chavez Jr. vs Margarito…YUK! What does GB and Arum have against Mosley and Margarito that they want to try and get them both beaten up when they should be retired? Sugar Shane should be putting in his 5 years and waiting for the Hall to call, not reminding us how far removed he is from his prime. As for Margarito, he’s taken a lot of punishment in his last few fights, does he feel he’s going to look like a Mexican Nick Fury when he winds up with a permanent eye patch? Plus he’s just not a middleweight…but then of course, neither is Junior, except for that brief time that he steps on the scale. But seriously, why endanger both guys health, just so a young tiger can get a big name scalp on his belt? It’s the lowest common denominator and we do way too much of it in boxing. I’m not excited about Mayweather/Cotto anyway and if the undercard turns out to be what you listed, I’ll save my $65 and wait for Pac/Bradley, which seems like a more interesting fight to me.
Anyway, the boxing business, is the boxing business and it seems to continue to survive and even thrive, despite itself.
Keep up the good work, it’s always very enjoyable!
Bill P
Elkhart, Indiana
Bill, as always, thanks for your thoughts. Yeah, when it's all said and done, Ken Hershman and Stephen Espinoza will be judged on the fights they program for their respective networks. Ross Greenburg’s and Kery Davis’ (who is still there, amazingly) failure to uphold the standards of HBO's boxing franchise is the reason why both Hershman and Espinoza are in their new positions.
And yeah, that's part of the unfortunate machinery of boxing where old lions get sacrificed at the end of their careers. But I really wonder just how many of your fellow fans will take your positions and save their money for June 9th (and I agree; Pacquiao-Bradley, to me, is a much more interesting fight from a pure boxing standpoint). When it comes to pay-per-view, success is really dictated oftentimes by the names on the marquee and not the actual match-up on the canvas. However, as I've said before, when it comes to Mayweather-Cotto and Pacquiao-Bradley, I'm just thankful we're getting some new, fresh face-offs.
By the way, how do you like your new moniker? I didn't know you were a Navy guy till you told me in one of your recent emails. No wonder why you seemed to like Glen Johnson and the “Battleship” nickname I dropped on him a while ago.
I really like the March 24th offering on the NBC Sports Network put together by Kathy Duva and Main Events, featuring the IBF junior welterweight eliminator between Zab Judah and Vernon Paris, a heavyweight bout between Bryant Jennings and Sergei Liakhovich and the return of Tomasz Adamek in Brooklyn...According to my partner on “MaxBoxing Radio,” Corey Erdman, a May 19th bout between Michael Oliveira and Acelino Freitas will take place in Rio De Janeiro. Don't laugh; this fight will do big numbers down there, I bet...This is sadly predictable but Thomas Dulorme and Jonathan Gonzalez, members of the highly touted “Team Puerto Rico,” are fighting this weekend on “ShoBox” at the Chumash Casino. Yeah, that's television packaging at its finest/worst...To steal a line from Larry Merchant, “Jeremy Lin makes Victor Cruz look like a sad story.”...Speaking of which, no, Floyd Mayweather's comments on Lin did not offend me. They're actually amusing in many ways and speak for themselves. Again, consider the source. This is not Cornel West or Dr. Harry Edwards here. And I certainly don't think he speaks for all African-Americans in this regard. If I did, that would be more offensive than anything he could ever state about Lin...Please tell me “Pan Am” is coming back for another season...Yeah, I just received “Thompson Twins’ Greatest Hits,” the “Rocky IV” and “Flashdance” soundtracks- so I'll have some new workout music for my Walkman. Just remind me to buy a new headband and leg-warmers...Speaking of Lin, did you hear? He really is a bad driver (he can't go to his left)...

More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...
I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.
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