Jameel McCline: The Dawning of a New Day
INTERVIEW By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (November 22, 2005)  
Photo © HoganPhotos.com
Sometimes it takes a humbling experience to bring to light understanding of one’s self, a bad experience can leave a nasty taste in your mouth and have a lasting affect on one’s mental state, and the same goes for a professional fighter. A loss, or multiple losses or a shocking loss can affect a boxer’s career as well as his/her thinking. Some never recover mentally while others take the setback onboard and make the necessary changes and march on. And with the past year going as it has Jameel McCline has found himself in such a position, but the big man will not break; in fact the experience has humbled the big guy and gave him something to fight for – existence in the boxing world as a serious contender. It is the dawning of a new day for longtime heavyweight contender McCline 32-6-3 (20) and the new humble beginning starts this Saturday at the Convention Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas when McCline steps in the ring against Andy ‘Sandman’ Sample 32-11-2 (21) to prove that he is still a dangerous fighter.

Standing at 6’6” and weighing at on average above 250 pounds, Jameel is a big guy with the ability to use his size and strength to his advantage, many has faced the mountain and have tasted defeat in the process. McCline began the punch for pay sport ten years ago after one amateur fight; the New York native began his career with a rocky start, 2-2-1 isn’t a head turning start and not many would even take a fighter as such seriously, but how things change when you have the frame of mind to succeed.

After his tough start and getting things together Jameel began putting on positive performances winning one after another making his climb to the top. In his next twenty-eight bouts Jameel would bang out twenty-six wins and two draws with wins over Michael Grant (1st round TKO), Lance Whitaker (12 round UD) where Jameel earned the WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight title, and a victory over Shannon Briggs (10 round UD) before dropping his first loss in six years to WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko.

McCline would continue on after the loss winning three in a row ending all in knock out before getting a title shot in a fight with best friend and IBF champion Chris Byrd. Out weighing the southpaw by fifty-six pounds, Jameel pushed around his smaller foe dropping the champ in round two but failed to capitalize on the knockdown, running out of steam in the end to drop the bout by a split decision. Once again Jameel marched on and faced unbeaten heavyweight Calvin Brock and dropped the Carolinian but once again failed to finish strong and fell to defeat. After stopping Steve Pannell in three rounds last August it appeared Jameel would be back in business and was ready to tune up against journeyman Zuri Lawrence, but what would seemingly be a walk over fight turned out to be an experience that left the big man pondering his future in the fistic family.

Dropping a shocking loss to Lawrence put Jameel in a must win position, and this Saturday that is exactly what the thirty-five year old is looking for, a win. But this isn’t the same fighter we’ve seen the past year; as stated before a loss can make or break a fighter spiritually and mentally, and with the recent downfalls Jameel needs a confidence builder, but Sample isn’t going to be an easy task or is just going to roll over for McCline, but that is what Jameel wants. A tough fight to begin a new chapter in the seasoned vets career, to prove that not only is Jameel eager to continue on, to prove that he is willing and able to do so, to prove this to the fight world and himself. The dawning of a new day for an old school fighter, he isn’t finished just yet.

Jameel took the time out to speak to the Doghouse and gives his thoughts on his career and the future, enjoy.

Benny Henderson Jr.: Give us your thoughts on the recent events in your career.

Jameel McCline:
Well, I have just had a very bad year from last November to this November. I have just had a bad year obviously. I have lost three out of four, which is unprecedented as far as my career and my winning percentage is concerned. It is very humbling and very hard to deal with but you know I am a fighter and I am going to stick with it and play it out till the end.

BH: I don’t want to linger too much on the negatives but how are you mentally, I mean training and fighting, well pretty much the whole fight game itself is mentally strenuous. So how are you in that aspect?

Mentally I am a little shaken from the Zuri Lawrence loss, I am a little shaken because it was a very, very tough loss to deal with. I am not taking anything away from Zuri, he came in a did his job but mentally I am shaken, because now for the first time I am starting to question whether I belong here or not.

BH: You will be facing Any Sample this weekend in Arkansas, this fight is very important to your career in many aspects. Do you see this do or die situation; do you feel that Jameel McCline has to deliver this Saturday or else?

Oh absolutely, a resounding absolute there.

BH: What do you know about your upcoming opponent Andy Sample, do you see this as a tough bout and do you feel you need a tough bout at this time?

Well, because I think I am one of the top fighters in the world I need to get in there against someone who isn’t such a roll over, and then take it from there. Because if I can’t get passed the Zuri Lawrence and Andy Sample then I may as well go ahead and get out.

BH: Is there anything that you have changed in your training since your last camp?

Well, I will be doing a lot of boxing with John Ruiz for this one, I’ll have some tough sparring.

BH: You have been in the fight world a long time, you have been in up and out, and you have pretty much been through and seen all. With all that you have done and been through in the fight world what have you taken from this game that you can use as advice to the youngsters just stepping in the fight world?

The most important thing is don’t take for granted who you are or who you have become when you finally become somebody in this game. Do not take for granted your hard work, complacency is the foundation to failure, and I showed that against Zuri Lawrence. I made some money and did my thing throughout the years and I get in there and think that I am going to roll over this guy and he showed me.

BH: For the ones who look at Jameel McCline and say that you are done how would you respond to that?

Well, I will say to just let me finish out the year and then the next and let’s see from there. Listen, I have ran my mouth before and talked crap before and God came down and humbled me, now things have changed for me, I am now taking a humble approach to what it takes to be a champion.

BH: What can the ringside fans expect from the big man this Saturday?

Aggression, which you didn’t see in the last fight, just out right aggression. Better conditioning and I don’t mean my weight and I don’t mean how I look, just my ability to stay at a certain level longer.

BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say in closing?

Well I am just glad to still be in the game and have an opportunity to prove not only to myself but to the world that I am truly a dangerous fighter. I think that people out there sort of believe that still because nobody is going to jump in and give me an opportunity to knock them off or knock their guy off, I don’t think it will be anything like that. But I think that I am in the position now to take a step back and come back really hard. I know things will turn around and I will turn some heads again and I will start to prove to others and myself that I do belong here. It is a new dawning and a new day, it is a new life for me.

I would like to thank Tina McCline for setting up this interview, and a special thank you goes out to Jameel for giving his candid thoughts. For more info on Jameel please visit: www.jameelbigtimemccline.com.
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