|Ronnie Shields speaks out on Holyfield and Juarez’s upcoming bouts
INTERVIEW By Benny Henderson Jr (Aug 24, 2007) Doghouse Boxing
Former light welterweight contender and long time trainer of many fighters past and present, Ronnie Shields is set to make history with one of his most renowned pupils Evander Holyfield, when the two travel to Russia October 13th to take on the WBO heavyweight title holder Sultan Ibragimov in search of a fifth heavyweight title for Holyfield. The Texas native will also be in the corner for the hard-hitting Rocky Juarez this September as he throws down against Juan Manuel Marquez for the WBC super featherweight title.
With all that is on his plate in the upcoming future, Shields has a lot to say on both of his fighters, read on to see what Ronnie had to say on the upcoming match-ups, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: Give your thoughts on Holyfield getting the title shot and you being in his corner.
Ronnie Shields: I think it is a great honor for him to get the title, a couple of years ago people were saying that he would never fight for a title again, and low and behold here we are, fighting for the title. I think it is great; he is already the only four-time heavyweight champion, now he has the opportunity to be the only five-time heavyweight champion. I do not think a whole lot of people could ever be able to do that, I am just thrilled to death that he got this opportunity and we are going to have to make the best of it.
BH: Have you guys already started camp, if not when?
RS: We started camp last week, then he had to take off to go do some things, but we will have eight weeks before the fight and that is a long time.
BH: I want to talk about Holyfield’s opponent Sultan Ibragimov, he’s a southpaw, a talented fighter, how do you match these guys up as far as strengths and weaknesses and how do you counter his style?
RS: Actually I have not even looked at him yet. The first thing I do going into camp I try to get Evander right first, I work on the things that Evander does best. Then after two weeks I will start looking at Ibragimov, then see what game plan we need to put together. As of right now I have not even looked at him yet, I can not concern myself with him right now, I have to make sure Evander is right first, then turn around and look Ibragimov and see the things that I think would work.
BH: How pleased are you with the progress Holyfield has made since his return? He dropped three consecutive bouts then came back and has won four consecutive bouts. To be honest I was one of the guys thinking that Holyfield would not get a title shot, but now here he is getting one. How content are you with his progression?
RS: I am very pleased with it, because the number one thing is, each fight he is getting better and better. I think that is because of age, I told somebody a few weeks ago in Evander’s last fight when he fought Savarese he got hit with a really good uppercut and it stunned him, I said if that would have been fifteen years ago that Holyfield would have gotten hit with more punches like that, he would have tried to come right back and try fighting him. But this Holyfield is a lot smarter, he understands if you get hurt, get out of there, move around a little bit get yourself together and then come back, and that is exactly what he did. He is a lot smarter; he is obviously very talented and is just a good fighter. Like I said before these guys talk and talk about how Evander should retire, but you have to look at him when he made the comeback against Jeremy Bates he looked good. Then he turned back around and fought Fres Oquendo, he did not look good in that fight because of the style of Oquendo, but the most important thing was he did enough to win. He looked great against Maddalone, he looked greater against Savarese. People are saying that these guys are not in the top then or whatever, you know what, they are still guys that throw punches at you so it does not matter who you fight; it is how you handle that fight. Evander is getting better with every fight, I am telling you that these guys are going to see that, you know what, we should have fought him at the beginning of the comeback and not wait. (Laughs)
BH: You made the decision to work with Holyfield and step out of the corner of Juan Diaz, how hard was that decision to make?
RS: It was not hard at all, the only thing about that is, I should not have had to make that decision, I spent a lot of time training Juan Diaz but you have to remember I have been with Holyfield on and off since 1988 and have only been with Diaz a few years. I helped Juan to become champion of the world, it was my job, I could have trained him up until it was time to go to Russia, but they told me if I trained Holyfield I could not train Diaz. His manager came up to me and told me that I had to make a choice, so for me it was an easy choice, speaking on the economics part of it, it is much more lucrative to be with Holyfield. As well we are looking at a part of history, in boxing the trainer is always the last paid man who does all the work. It takes a lot of work in that gym to get a fighter to become champion, if they could not see I did a lot of work, you have assistant trainers to help out when you cannot be there. I have a very capable assistant trainer who helps out, but when it came down to it they decided that if I could not be there then I cold not train him, so my loyalty is with everybody, but at the same time who was loyal to me.
BH: Have you spoken to Juan since then?
RS: I see him everyday, we still train in the same gym. We do not speak everyday.
BH: Any tension in the air?
RS: No, like I said it is business, the thing about boxing it is a business, I thought we were more family than anything but now I see it was just business, so that is the way I treat it. There are no hard feelings; they made a decision that forced me to make a decision. They said they would be happy with any decision that I made and I made my decision.
BH: You have Rocky Juarez fighting Juan Manuel Marquez for the WBC super featherweight title in September, what are your thoughts on that match-up?
RS: I love the fight, I love the fight because it is a bigger fight than Rocky and it is a fight that I know he will get up for. He was supposed to fight Robert Guerrero who is a tall southpaw, the thing about Marquez he is a right-handed fighter. I love the match-up because Rocky is a very talented fighter, he works hard in the gym and this is a great opportunity for him, in boxing you always want to fight the best and when this fight came up he did not hesitate.
BH: Stylistically how do you see these guys matching up?
RS: I think it is going to be a very exciting fight, they both are counter punchers but at some point they have to go at it, and I think it will be an exciting fight.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add in closing of this interview on the Juarez fight or the Holyfield fight?
RS: About the Juarez fight I just want to say that I think Rocky is the better fighter, I think he is the stronger fighter and I think he is the best fighter. Holyfield, we are looking to make history that is what this is about, our goal with Evander was to retire the undisputed champion of the world, nobody thought we had a chance, look at us now. We have an opportunity to win a title and that is going to be another notch helping him to regain the championship.
I would like to thank Ronnie Shields for taking the time out to speak to Doghouse Boxing.
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