|Scott Hirsch speaks out on Briggs vs. Ibragimov, McCline, Chapman and Castillo
By Benny Henderson Jr, AKA Big Dog (March 12, 2007) Doghouse Boxing
The year was 1975, the fight, Muhammad Ali vs. Chuck Wepner, and after witnessing fifteen grueling rounds of boxing a Florida based youngster was hooked on the sweet science and swore one day to be a part of the bang for your buck business. Now thirty-two years later the forty-one year old boxing manager and his heavyweight hold one of the four major world titles.
Scott Hirsch, a Florida based businessman nationally known for his expertise in Internet marketing has his hand in the boxing biz as well, and as the man behind (World Class Boxing Management Inc. (WCBMI) his stable of fighters include WBO heavyweight title holder Shannon Briggs, heavyweight contenders Jameel McCline, JD Chapman and cruiserweight hopeful Eliseo Castillo. Hirsch was nominated as boxing manager of the year for 2006 by the BWAA, and although he didn’t receive the award he was tickled pink just to be thought of in that aspect.
From a small boy heading to the local boxing shows at the old Fifth Street Gym in Miami Beach with his Dad and Grand Dad, to a well rewarded businessman to living out his dream as partaking in the sweet science Hirsch is a happy man, and in this Doghouse exclusive he talks about his short time in the sport as well as the current situations with his fighters, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: Shannon Briggs was supposed to defend his WBO heavyweight title coming up this March but had to pull out due to what has been reported as pneumonia, give the readers your thoughts on that situation.
Scott Hirsch: Shannon and the whole team are extremely disappointed. He was looking great in camp and this was going to be an easy fight. I love Shannon like a brother and this setback hit me hard. As an asthmatic Shannon is more susceptible to illness than other athletes but he's tough and dealt with this his whole life. He'll be back and ready to go in May. While this setback is discouraging, it's nothing Shannon can't handle. He was born premature, weighing three pounds, he was sick his whole childhood and he was homeless living on the streets as a teen before he got in to boxing. A case of pneumonia doesn't scare him. Dr. Woolf and the pulmonary specialist he consulted all prohibit Shannon from training or fighting until the condition improves. We're talking about more than a fight; we're talking about a Shannon's life and well being.
BH: You know the past few months has been a bit hard for a few of your fighters. Eliseo Castillo seemed to be back in business riding a double win streak but was upset by Jonathan Banks this past summer, then Jameel McCline was going for his seventh straight win as well as for the WBA heavyweight title and looked pretty good up until his knee gave way, how’s all this effect you?
SH: I've been involved with thirty-three fights over the last years and I've done all the matchmaking myself and my fighters have won thirty-one of them. I took both of the losses very hard. I felt so awful for Jameel after he injured his knee against Valuev because he was coming on and would have won the fight. I also was crushed when Eliseo Castillo lost to Jonathan Banks. I was sure Eliseo was the bigger, better and more experienced fighter that night and I still am. I can't explain what happened after Eliseo had him virtually out in the first round but it really shook me up. I hate to see one of my guys not realize his dream.
BH: How is Jameel and when do you expect a return?
SH: I'm confident you are going to see a very strong performance out of Jameel McCline this summer after he rehabs from his recent knee surgery. He'll be back against a top contender.
BH: Also under your management banner is the undefeated heavyweight JD Chapman, what’s going on with him at this time?
SH: He's now ranked in the top fifteen and he's ready to step up and fight another contender. I'm really impressed with the progress of JD Chapman, he's beaten ten consecutive fighters with winning records and is 25-0 at twenty-three years old. JD Chapman will be taking a step up in the near future. We're talking to Wilfred Sauerland about a fight with Alexander Povetkin in Germany and also in negotiations for a fight in Dubai.
BH: What inspired you to get into the business of boxing?
SH: First fight I really remember watching bell to bell was Ali vs. Wepner. I bought The Ring magazine with Ali on the canvas on the cover with money I made cleaning up at a pet store. I always loved boxing and thought someday I'm going to be in that business. I've been a big Shannon Briggs fan for fifteen years. I thought coming out of the amateurs, he'd be the next Ali and I never doubted he could get to the top even after a few rocky outings. I knew he could, box, he could punch and he had the heart of a fighter. The first fighter I ever worked with was Mitch ‘Blood’ Green. After you work with my man Mitch, every other fighter is easy. He had great stories and a personality as big as his stature. When I decided I wanted to get in to boxing for real, I knew the only thing I was interested in was managing the heavyweight champion of the world. I contacted Shannon, who approached me years earlier about managing him because I knew he had what it takes to be champion and I was now committed to helping him get there. Everyone thought I was crazy when I signed Shannon and they were sure I was crazy when I promised to walk away from boxing and my investment if Shannon wasn't heavyweight champion of the world by the end of 2006 but I never had any doubts. I like to think working with a fighter who everyone has given up on is like giving someone a second chance in life. I've made many mistakes myself and been written off before. I know what it's like to need a second chance. I know that Shannon is not the fighter he was in 1996 against Daroll Wilson he took his lumps and learned from the experience. He's an entirely different more mature fighter today. It only makes sense; I know I'm not the same guy I was in 1996.
BH: How has it been working with Don King?
SH: Working with Don King has been an unexpected pleasure. I was told so many negative things about Don before we ever met but my experience has been exactly the opposite. Don has been extremely honorable and helpful. I consider him a good friend as well as a great promoter.
BH: Anything in closing?
SH: As for the suggestion that Shannon Briggs wasn't that sick or didn't want this fight. It's ludicrous. Shannon has fought fifty-three pro fights including eight in the last two years. He would have fought nine, if Shelly Finkle hadn't asked us to pull off Cedric Kushner's September card in New York. He fights every fight with asthma and has fought with a bad back, broken nose and fractured finger but nobody can fight or train with aspirated pneumonia. He argued with Dr. Woolf but he forbid him from fighting under these conditions. The Florida State Commission Doctor agreed 100% with Shannon's doc that he needed three weeks or so of rest and antibiotics before training. He'll be ready to fight in May.
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