It was the last sparring
session for heavyweight Malik Scott this past Friday afternoon before departing
for London where he faces Dereck Chisora at the Wembley Arena this upcoming
weekend. And as he went six spirited rounds with two different sparring partners
(one of them being Lateef “Power” Kayode), you heard something from his trainer
that you've never heard before. “Sell tickets! Sell tickets!” were the
exhortations heard from Jesse Reid.
The inference was clear to
Scott: don't just settle; let your hands go and be a much more entertaining
Scott has an impressive,
professional mark of 35-0-1 but with just 12 stoppages to his credit. It's the
reason why Scott has been so overlooked.
Reid wasn't brought in here
to teach Scott how to box - that's never been the issue with this personable
Philadelphian – Reid’s job is to change his ring mentality.
“Definitely,” said the
veteran trainer, best known for working with the likes of Roger Mayweather,
Johnny Tapia and Orlando Canizales, “trying to make him more aggressive. You
know my type of style. I believe you [are] a fighter first, so I'm really
working on his aggressiveness and his jab. To be more effective with his jab
and I'm working on him just being a crowd-pleaser and not just go through the
motions with his great skills.”
Scott says of his trainer, “That's
been Jesse's whole purpose in this training camp and the last training camp, to
be more offensive-minded but also to stay dressed down in defense but put a lot
more behind my offense. So we've been working on it, smoothing up them jagged
edges and I'm ready for it.”
The question is, while you
can make some technical tweaks to boxers, can you change their temperament?
“Well, I've done the same
thing with Malik I did with Lamon Brewster,” said Reid, who had a good run with
the former heavyweight beltholder, who, despite his punching power, would
frustrate everyone involved with baffling passiveness. “I took him from 30
punches a round to 150. And I think you're going to see Malik be very
aggressive and he's a great body puncher. He has all the skill in the world.
And you're right; I don't have to teach him the intricacies of boxing but I've
got to teach him how to be pleasing and that's what we're going to try to do.”
Reid believes he's making
progress with Scott in this regard. But back in February as he built up an
early lead on the undefeated Vyacheslav Glazkov in New York, he fell back into
an old habit of going into cruise control instead of pressing the gas
pedal. “If you heard me in the seventh
round, I said, ‘Malik, don't leave this to the judges; they might screw you.
Get out there and show these people who you are.” And what did they do? They
screwed him,” said Reid, referring to the fact that they had to settle for an
Scott says Reid's point has
been duly noted, “Glazkov got off the hook and when I think about it more, as
far as a learning experience, they should've called the fight a draw because
that means you come back in the gym, dig even harder. Do I think I won? Does
the world really know I won eight out of 10 rounds? Yeah. But like I said,
everything happens for a reason. I'm happy it went the way it did and that won’t
happen on the 20th.”
The draw with Glazkov was in
many ways a microcosm for Scott's career. He showed a lot of talent and
displayed an impressive skill set for a heavyweight but frustrated fans and
observers by not doing more. He admits, in the past, he settled for decision
victories by just merely utilizing his long jab and sharp boxing skills. In
many ways, boxing came a bit too easy for him.
“Absolutely, there could've
been a chance of that. You live and learn. If the opportunity presents itself
on the 20th, I get Dereck in a position where I get him hurt, I'm
going to take full advantage of it and if not, I'm going to use my boxing
skills to win the fight. Either way, I'm going to be victorious,” said Scott.
But at age 32, can you actually
teach an older dog new tricks? Or can you, in fact, teach a poodle to become a
pit bull? You get the sense that Scott should be further along in his career,
especially in this era of heavyweights. “There's a time and a place for
everything,” he says, philosophically. “I believe everything happens for a
reason. I believe you got guys like Dereck Chisora, he's got 16, 17 fights; his
14th fight or something like that, he was fighting for a world title [Editor’s note: Chisora’s shot at WBC
heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko was in his 18th fight, two
fights ago]. My road is different; my path is different - but I'm ready
now. The present is what counts the most.
“And if we go by the present
like I do and the rest of the world - I'm the best skilled heavyweight on the
planet and July 20th is my night.”
Reid concurs, stating, “I
think Malik Scott has more talent than any heavyweight that's out there. But
he's also a better puncher than what he proves he is. He's just not a finisher,
he admires his work. I'm going to get him to where he wants to finish and make
the crowd excited.”
But what Reid says is
precisely why Scott's career has languished. There's never been a question
about his boxing acumen. The problem has been his inability (or perhaps
unwillingness) to take more chances during fights. He's been effective but
never particularly exciting despite his technical mastery. There's a reason
Scott was given the moniker “80-72” as he racked up one uneventful shutout
after another during his days as a prospect under the Main Events banner.
“People think, ‘Oh, he's good but he's not [crowd-] pleasing,’ and people don't
want to fight him because he's too good,” said Reid. Scott is currently
promoted by Goossen Tutor, whose matchmaker, Tom Brown admits Scott hasn't made
their job easy with the nature of his victories. But he is convinced this union
is working. “I think somehow Jesse has been able to get into Malik's head to
really convince him that he has the skills to fight this way.”
But it has been a process;
during their first fight together last September, Scott was rather desultory
for much of the night before stopping Bowie Tupou in eight in Oakland. “Jesse
was completely frustrated and something happened there between that September
and the Glazkov fight where Jesse pulled something off in that gym and Malik
went along with the program,” said Brown.
And even then, Scott didn't
finish the fight in a manner that pleased his trainer.
For all the talk of Bryant
Jennings, Deontay Wilder, Seth Mitchell and Tony Thompson, Scott is the most
naturally gifted U.S. heavyweight out there. But he's been the forgotten man.
“Yeah, you could say that
because of trials and tribulations brought on, like manager problems, injuries,
promotional problems,” Scott explained. “I wasn't able to stay as active as
most of my fellow heavyweights in America were. But it's not a secret that I
got the skills to pay the bills. As far as the other heavyweights, I don't even
concern myself or concern myself to them. I just stay in my lane and focus on
getting better and like I said, smoothing out my jagged edges in training camp.
“This training camp was a
tough training camp. I got through a lot of adversity and I believe it's all
going to pay off on the 20th.”
This is still a work in
progress. Chisora will be a good barometer on just where Scott stands in the
division and just how much he has altered his mindset in the ring.
When you ask Reid where he
sees Scott in one year, he doesn't hesitate to give offer an assessment.
“I see him as a champion; I
really do. I think that last fight made him better mentally and each fight,
he's going to get better. The more he fights, the better he'll get and the more
I'll push him.”
In recent years, the
accomplished Reid bounced around the Wild Card Boxing Club and the Fortune Gym
but it looks like he is firmly entrenched now at the Powerhouse Gym in Burbank.
He explained, “The way it came
about is the two brothers [William and Norman Dabish, who own the facility]
called me, saw that I didn't work at Freddie's anymore and also at Justin
Fortune's and asked me if I'd come to their gym and when I heard they had over
3,500 members and they had a basketball gymnasium in it and a 3,000 square foot
place where we could put boxing, I was very impressed and there's a Latin
community. This is United Nations [community of several different ethnicities] out
here so I'm real excited about it and I really think it's a great location and
we've got some great things happening.
“A lot of fighters, now that
they found out I'm here, are coming here and we've got some young kids that are
going to do something. So I'm excited about it.”
The walls of the boxing area
are lined with boxing memorabilia and fight posters. You can see the visual
history of Reid in this area as well. Yeah, this feels like his place.
“I definitely have [found a
home]. I moved my wife from Vegas - which I have a home - to here and I'm
bringing my son over here. So things are starting to pick up. I'm having a lot
of class fighters come in here now and they like it,” said Reid, who aims to
keep things as affordable as possible. “We only charge $25 a month in dues and
they have access to all the trainers that are outside our gym. We have a great
weight facility; we have a basketball court; we have spin class. We have all
kinds of stuff. It's a great facility.”
So are we any closer to
seeing the anticipated match-up between Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov
take place on October 19th in Denver? The Russian is on board but
Alvarado still hasn't come to terms with Top Rank, which met with “Mile High”
and his manager, Henry Delgado on Monday. Top Rank President Todd duBoef and matchmaker
Brad Goodman were dispatched to iron things out with them.
“They had a meeting and the
dialogue continued and, y’ know, it'll take a few days to sort it out,” Top
Rank founder Bob Arum told Maxboxing.
The veteran promoter
believed the powwow was productive and he was optimistic this deal would get
THE MAIN EVENT
Here's the latest
installment of “The Next Round” with Gabriel Montoya and Yours Truly:
A possible date for the
return of super middleweight champ Andre Ward is September 28th. It
looks like he and Goossen Tutor will be moving ahead together with no further
litigation. I guess you can call it a “shotgun reconciliation”...Juan Carlos
Burgos will now face Yakubu Amidu on the July 26th edition of “Friday
Night Fights” on ESPN2...So should Lolo Jones now go out for the Olympic boxing
team?...Antonio Margarito needs to not call it a comeback...The Lakers might be
mediocre next season but at least they have better fits to their Mike D'Antoni
system...One day, I'd like to cover SEC football media day...