Wayne Braithwaite: “I guarantee you that on Saturday night, when it's over, my hand will be raised.”
Interview by Coyote Duran (September 2, 2005)
On April 2 of this year, the cruiserweight division had another one of those ‘interesting seizures’ it has from time to time. You know, they happen every few years or so. Evander Holyfield vs. Dwight Muhammad Qawi in ’87 and James Toney vs. Vassiliy Jirov in ’03 come to mind but few great examples can carry a division that’s been best described (generously, in all honesty) as mediocre.
The fight? It was a unification bout between WBA titlist Jean-Marc Mormeck, 31-2 (21), of France and then-undefeated WBC boss Wayne Braithwaite, 21-1 (17), of Brooklyn by way of Guyana. Many (myself included) saw the younger ‘Big Truck’ as a favorite but we were shown how some cats come out ahead (even if they’re French!) by upping their games and erasing the expectations of many while surprising them even more.
Win the unanimous decision win, not only did Mormeck unify two of the ‘big four’ alphabet titles, he also gained the elusive Ring Magazine World Cruiserweight Championship, a belt that had been waiting for a winner to claim it, not unlike some doe-eyed pup at an animal shelter who just gives you those big eyes and that sad face until you begrudgingly look at your family and say, ”Fine, we’ll take it home.” (This is how my dog came home with me. Don’t ask. Sometimes, I’d rather have an alphabet belt.)
Although on the shorter end of the decision, Braithwaite didn’t dog out. He went back to the drawing board, made some changes and now is making a go for contention in the 200 pound division once more. First stop? Take on a solid cat who knows how to deep-six another solid cat.
Tomorrow night, September 3 at 9:00 PM ET/PT on Showtime Championship Boxing, Wayne Braithwaite will challenge Panamanian Guillermo Jones, 32-3-2 (25), the man who stopped former IBF cruiserweight titlist Kelvin ‘Koncrete’ Davis this last May, in a cruiserweight title elimination battle. The setting? The Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Supported by a heavyweight clash between Owen Beck and Ray Austin, the main event could prove to be a sleeper hit should each big man resort to using his power in hopes of putting his opponent behind him, clearing a wide berth to possibly facing World Champion Jean-Marc Mormeck (again, in Braithwaite’s case) in a battle for all the cruiser marbles.
I spoke to Braithwaite and found he was very excited, as well as excitable, focused and positive when asked his thoughts of Saturday’s big match.
Coyote Duran: How's everything goin' on your end, Wayne?
Wayne Braithwaite: Good! Real good! Everything's great.
CD: On Saturday night, you'll be coming back exactly five months and a day since the Jean-Marc Mormeck fight. You could've waited longer but now you're back challenging Guillermo Jones. Was it important for you to come back as quickly as you could?
WB: Oh, yes. I definitely needed to come back because I knew I had to come back and be a champion again.
CD: This fight is a title eliminator. Would you have returned against an easier opponent if a title ranking wasn't on the line?'
WB: Oh, yes! I would've because I like the hard challenges. I am one of the best in the division and I need to take the big challenges to show everyone that I am.
CD: In his last fight, Jones handled Kelvin Davis like he was a child. Why do you think it was so easy for Jones to handle such a solid guy?
WB: Well, I think part of it is because Davis is short. He didn't have the height for Jones. Davis never moves his head either. He's easy to hit.
CD: Well, Jones hits hard as hell, obviously as indicated by his win over Davis. It's no secret that you've got a good punch, too, but do you have a plan to negate Jones' power and reach?
WB: I've always had good movement and Guillermo Jones can't hit what he can't find. But I will hit him.
CD: Jones started his career as a welterweight and now fights 53 pounds higher. Does knowing this give you an edge being a more natural framed cruiserweight?
WB: Oh, yes. I did know Guillermo Jones started out as a welterweight. He's not a natural cruiserweight so I do have the advantage.
CD: Do you see this fight going the distance, Wayne?
WB: You know, things are different now! (Excitedly) I've got a new trainer in my corner and I'm doing new things! I'm training to go 12 rounds but I know I can end it early. One way or the other, I guarantee you that on Saturday night, when it's over, my hand will be raised.
I'm doing things differently and I'm more serious about this because I want my belt back and on Saturday, on Showtime, my hand will be raised!
CD: Wayne, if you could change anything about your performance against Jean-Marc Mormeck last April, what would it be?
WB: I think I would've used my movement. I would've boxed smarter. But Mormeck was the better man that night and he won. He's the champion. I didn't lose against some nobody. I lost to Mormeck.
CD: Us talking about world champions and the like made me wonder about something. You fought at light heavyweight before entering the cruiserweight ranks. With Roy Jones Jr. returning to challenge Antonio Tarver who regained his crown from Glen Johnson, would you ever consider dropping to 175 to make that division even more interesting?
WB: Oh, yeah! I would if the fights could be made. I would love to take on a fighter like Glen Johnson or Tarver. They're both very tough and great champions.
CD: Your mother manages your career.
WB: That's right. She still does!
CD: Most mothers disapprove of their sons or daughters decisions to be fighters or at least worry themselves sick about them. Does even the slightest bit of the ‘worried mom’ come out from time to time, Wayne?
WB: Oh, sure it does. She's always known that it's a dangerous job and she will always see me as her baby. But I am a fighter as well and she has supported me with that, too. I also would like to tell you that I have a new trainer, Lennox Blackmore and with his help and him in my corner and with Don King as my promoter, I will be champion again.
CD: Any words for your fans before we wrap it up?
WB: Yeah, I'd like to thank my fans and everyone who's supported me. I want to thank Don King who has given me this opportunity and I'm going to show everyone watching Showtime on Saturday night that I'm back.
CD: Wayne, it's been terrific talking to you, buddy. I wish you nothing but good luck against Guillermo Jones on Saturday night! We'll definitely be watching.
WB: Thank you very much!
Thanks again to Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite for taking the time so close to Saturday night’s fight in order to speak to Doghouse Boxing.
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