|Roger Cantrell: “My destiny is to become world champ” - The Road to St. Lucia Part Two
INTERVIEW By Gabriel Montoya (Nov 13, 2007) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Everlast)
“I’m not just a warrior. I’m a boxer,” Puyallup, Washington native Roger ‘Never Can Tell’ Cantrell says with a quiet resolve. A two-time Tacoma Golden Gloves champion waits for victory after years of simmering in the shadow of his greatest defeat; a decision loss to rising contender Vanes Martirosyan in the Olympic trials that cost him a berth on the 2004 team. Signed by Washington promoter Brian Halquist in 2005, Cantrell would make his pro debut in May of 2005. Since then, he has amassed a record of 12-0 with 8 wins by KO and a growing following in Washington State.
Now on Friday November 16, Cantrell has a chance to get back on the path he believes he should have been on long ago. “I’m ready to prove to the world that I am on the way up. This is a stepping-stone to greater things.” The stepping-stone he speaks of is a showdown with 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward in a ten round super-middleweight bout. The fight, televised live from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia as part of Showtime’s Shobox series, is the first in a series of three annual fight cards promoted by Goossen/Tutor promotions on the island.
For Ward, it is expected to be a test on his way to greatness. For Cantrell, it is a chance at an Olympic redemption of sorts. However, it is a fight that Cantrell never expected to take place.
Following his loss at the Olympic trials, Cantrell would fall on hard times, living on his own as a young fighter. It was during this time, that he watched and was inspired by Ward. “I remember this one time. I was actually living out of my car. My buddy’s mother didn’t like me. I was young. Around 17 or 18. I remember sneaking over to my buddy’s house to watch Andre fight [in the 2004 Olympics]. I never thought I’d fight him. Now that I am getting the opportunity, I am going to take full advantage of it,” he says with a quiet resolve. “I’m not here to lose. I don’t think I’m going to lose. I’m a warrior and I know my terrain.”
Following the press conference announcing the inaugural fight card on St. Lucia, I had the privilege of speaking with Mr.
Cantrell. He was humble, forthright and very confident. Read on Doghouse and welcome Mr. Roger Cantrell into the Pound.
Gabriel Montoya: How you doing?
Roger Cantrell: I’m good. I’m ready.
GM: Tell me a little about your career and what led you to this moment.
RC: Well, I was a successful amateur. I traveled all over the United States. I beat an Olympic Silver Medalist. I fought all the top-notch fighters. I came just short of the 2004 Olympics by a man by the name of Vanes Martirosyan. Very good boxer. I took him lightly. I took him way too lightly and I got overwhelmed. It was a really close fight but I got beat. But ever since then I am mature enough to know that I take no one lightly. I’m here to fight.
GM: Was it the perfect lesson at the time, you think?
RC: Yeah. I grew a lot. I was 18, I believe. I’ve grown a lot since then. Now I’m 21 almost. And my birthday present is going to actually be beating Andre Ward.
GM: When’s your birthday?
RC: November 8. 8 days after is the fight. Something to reward myself.
GM: They say when a guy steps up… you know Andre is considered to be a future champion. They’re laying the gold brickwork for him.
GM: They say when a contender goes up against a guy like that they become even better. You can’t even watch tape of the guy because he’s not going to be the same guy. What are you going to do to prepare to become that different fighter that he is going to face?
RC: Andre’s always up for the challenge, you know? Obviously he is an Olympic Gold Medalist. You don’t become an Olympic Gold Medalist by not being up for the challenge. He’s going to be up for it and I know I will be at 100%. I believe Andre Ward will be a champion but not at 168 because that’s where I am going to be world champ. He has to get through me to become a world champ November 16th, we’ll see how close to his destiny then. I’m more worried about my destiny than I am his. My destiny is to become world champ.
GM: How would you describe yourself as a fighter?
RC: I’m good boxer. I started off my career very slick, a lot of fast hands. A lot of punches. I threw a lot of people off with my appearance. I was really skinny. I’m starting to get bigger; you know fill out a little bit more. I was very quick and now I am more of a boxer/puncher. Slick. You know, I’m hard to hit but I can bang when we need to bang. In this fight I am pressing up. I’m not…I’m no Arturo Gatti. I’m not going to go out there and take five punches to give three. I’m giving two and taking none. Giving three and taking none. The game is to hit and not get hit. Even though I am going forward, my good offense is a good defense. And I think my good offense is going to overwhelm his beautiful defense.
GM: You told that story about sneaking to your buddy’s house to check [Ward] out. So how familiar with him are you? How many fights have you seen?
RC: You know I’ve seen Andre at national championships. But you know, I never kept an eye on him because he was 170 and I was always a little guy. I just recently beefed up. I remember, I was on the edge of my seat watching the Olympics. I was just so excited, you know? I never thought I’d be fighting him and now I am. There is no way I am going to take this opportunity for granted. I am going to go out there and I am going to beat him cause he had what I could have had. That Gold Medal.
GM: You’re 100% Sioux?
RC: I’m a little over half, yeah.
GM: How much does that heritage play into what you do as a warrior?
RC: It does a lot, you know? Because I practice a lot of things. I do sweats. I pray a lot. I believe in Jesus but you know… I am one with myself. I go into the sweats and I pray. I am very spiritually there. I’ve never been as spiritually there as I am for this fight. I’m going to need to be. He’s top-notch fighter but I am not one bit nervous. I got the jitters but you’d be crazy if you didn’t. I’m ready to win. I’m not coming here to be an opponent. I’m going to be the winner and later the champion.
GM: Thank you, man. Good luck.
RC: Thank you.
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