April 1st at the DeCarlo's Convention Center in Warren, MI, undefeated heavyweight contender Leo ‘Paco’ Nolan, 22-0 (8), is set to continue his winning ways when he faces the ‘Sandman’ Andy Sample, 32-9-2 (21), for the vacant IBU Intercontinental heavyweight title. Last May Nolan stepped up, dominated and beat up fight veteran Lou Savarese for the vacant IBA Americas heavyweight title that was featured on ESPN. Not only did Nolan get the upset win and proved to be a spoiler over Savarese's victorious return, he earned a belt and won over fans.
Photo © Brendon Pierpaoli, DHB
Growing up in the hardcore ally ways of Detroit, Leo learned how to throw down and honed his skills on the street and decided to move them into the pro ranks of boxing in 1992. Nolan was on a roll winning his first four bouts and establishing his dominance but the hardcore street life he was accustomed to caught up with the twenty-three year old when a failed robbery attempt sent Nolan to prison for a four year stint and also saw him suffered five gunshot wounds in the process.
In 2001 Leo returned to boxing and continued his win streak and since then has won two titles, the Midwestern and IBA Americas heavyweight title, and looks to add to his accolades once again with a victory over Sample and continue his climb up the heavyweight ladder. What Nolan lacks in his KO power he makes up with speed, conditioning and heart, and ‘Paco’ looks forward to the big fights that lurk out in the boxing world. As a matter of fact, he is handing out an open invitation to all top heavies in the biz: if they are willing, he is willing, he will face all. Leo stopped by the Doghouse to chat about his upcoming bout and his career all together, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: Can you give us your thoughts on your match-up April 1st against Andy Sample?
Leo Nolan: I'm ready for anything he brings. I've never seen him fight but I hear he's big and strong. I say bring it on up to the ring and we'll see.
BH: You had an eight year lay off from your boxing career, how much different do you feel or think your career would have went if you could have been active?
LN: You know, I think the lay off worked in my favor. I was stupid, and sitting on the shelf kept my body young until I was settled down enough to take boxing seriously.
BH: You stepped up last May and beat long time contender Lou Savarese. Do you feel that you made a statement to the boxing world with that win?
LN: Since nobody gave me a chance in hell to beat Savarese, I guess I made a statement. He became the twenty-second man in 22 fights whose ass I whipped.
BH: What do you feel your best asset is as a fighter?
LN: I can box a little bit.
BH: You had a rough time on the streets of Detroit, hung out with the rough crowds were shot five times and did time in prison. How did the time change you and do you use your best transgressions to help the youth of today?
LN: I learned that running the streets in the ghetto leads nowhere but to trouble. It's unavoidable. It'll catch up to you sooner or later. I don't know what to tell younger people. They aren't given a whole lot of choices in the city. As long as they keep building more prisons, they don't have to worry about the young people.
BH: What has been your toughest bout to date?
LN: I don't mean to disrespect Lou Savarese but that was not my toughest fight. He was the best I ever fought, but it wasn't that tough a fight because I was going to whip his ass no matter what it took. I had trained for it and I was ready. I had tougher fights early on because I wasn't prepared. So I guess that I have been my own worst enemy and have caused some of my fights to be harder than they had to be. My toughest fight was against myself.
BH: What is the hardest aspect of being a boxer?
LN: For me it's staying focused. For most people it's being disciplined in the ring. All other stuff equal, I think that's the biggest thing. It only takes a second in a fight to lose it, but it takes the whole time to win it. You gotta be disciplined.
BH: Why the lay off after the win over Savarese, wouldn't you think it would be best to keep rolling after the win, and do you plan on staying more active in the future?
LN: I wanted to keep going up the hill, but nobody, and I mean nobody, wanted to fight. I guess they figured they had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Just like Savarese. A couple of people said they wanted to fight but there was no money available. I'm not going to fight for free. Samuel Peter calls everyone out but his people won't pay any real money. I'd love to whip his ass. But I ain't doing it for free.
BH: Your plans for the future, as for instance the match-ups you would like to have, belts you would go for first etc.?
LN: I'd like Vlad or Ruiz. I'd like either one of them.
BH: For the ones who don't know you or have seen you fight, how would you describe yourself as a person and as a fighter?
LN: As a person I'm just another guy looking for a break. I can box a little bit and I'd like to try to make some money doing it. I've whipped everybody's ass so far and I think there are only a couple of heavyweights in the world who are undefeated with better records than mine. Why can't I get a big fight? So as a fighter I describe myself as being better than anybody who was ever willing to fight me. What else can I say?
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this in closing?
LN: Yeah. My manager's phone number is listed in the phone book. If any one out there is willing to pay for it, I'll whip their ass.
I would like to thank Leo's manager John Carlisle for all his help, and I would like to give a big shout out to Leo for his time, it was much appreciated.
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