By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing: Recently I ventured out to Hayward, Ca. to speak with "TRAINER OF THE YEAR" recipient Virgil Hunter. Before our scheduled sit-down, I stood and watched Hunter working with rising contender Michael Dallas Jr. Hunter fits no stereotype as a trainer. He's a big man who moves with an easy grace. Hunter doesn't yell or intimidate-he teaches. He's the father who cares about the boxers he trains.
I asked him to tell me what he thought after hearing that he had won the top trainer award.
was grateful," he said. "It’s humbling to be included in that
fraternity. I appreciate the writers and the considerations. But, more
then anything it goes out to my fraternity of Barry Hunter, Nazim
Richardson, Kevin Cunningham, and Leon Larson and all the guys.
a testament to the fraternity that I come from, the diligence, the
promise to support each other. I happen to emerge but it’s (winning) is
really for everybody."
godson, and "FIGHTER OF THE YEAR" Andre Ward, completed a triumphant
year by winning the Super Six Tournament in Atlantic City. Ward defeated
Carl Froch by unanimous decision.
Did the "NOTTINGHAM SLUGGER" do anything that surprised Hunter?
Carl Froch is all about bravado," said Hunter. "He’s really a nervous,
unsure fighter. If you watch his fights, until he gets the feel of a
fight, until he feels secure in a fight, then a fighter will emerge.
He’s unsure of himself,"he said. "I'm just sorry we had the broken
is building a name as a psychological game player. His discussion with
Froch and his promoter had them looking bemused and confused. However,
according to Hunter, he's not doing anything special.
of that was intentional," said Hunter."They came to me and asked me was
he going to fight. "I gave them an answer which turned out to be
accurate. I told them, 'Yeah he’s (Andre Ward) going to fight, your
going to get a lot and he’s going to hurt you."
"So that’s what happened. I just told them the truth. There was nothing additional or any psychological attempts there at all.”
I asked Hunter how much better the undefeated Ward can get.
say he’s about seventy-five percent of what he’s going to be,"Hunter
said. "The main thing is his knee is healed from the ACL tear (from two
years ago) People have to remember that he went into the A league’s in
his 17th fight. Most guys don’t go into the A league’s until their 26th fight. We could have kept him in the B and C league and he would have
been knocking guys out. He had 12 knockouts in his first 16 fights. They
were calling him a puncher. Then he went to the A league in his 17th fight. Elite fighters don’t get knocked out.”
Ward broke his left hand in the Froch fight. Does Hunter believe his charge would have knocked Froch out?
believe he would have stopped him with a culmination of punches,” said
Hunter. "He had a broken hand. The left hook was working."
Ward was injured on December 17, 2011. How is the healing process coming along?
“His hand is healing up real good, beyond what we would have expected," Hunter said.
goal is for Ward to be back in the ring in May of this year, preferably
in Oakland. But as always in boxing, nothing is set in stone.
hoping it’s in Oakland. It should be," said Hunter.”The fight will have
to make financial sense. Anthony Dirrell (ranked number one by the WBA)
is a great fighter, but again, it has to make sense for Dirrell and
Many boxing scribes want Ward to fight the other champion, Lucian Bute of Canada. I asked Hunter about Bute.
think he’s great fighter," he said without hesitation."He’s done what
he’s supposed to do to the people he’s fought. I don’t think he’s fought
the best yet.”
Last month Denmark's pride and joy Mikkel Kessler called for a rematch with Ward.
hoping we can get the Kessler fight along with Bute and Froch again,
"said Hunter. "I think that’s what we are looking at. And, travel to
there home countries. I think that’s in the makings. A lot of people
don’t think were willing to go to Denmark or Canada, but that’s the
furthest thing from the truth.”
There has been talk of Ward moving up to the light heavyweight division.
will happen at some point," said Hunter.” But, not now. I think we will
take some fights at light heavy, test the waters. He has no problem
making the weight. One sixty-eight is a hot division from top to bottom.
You have five champions in the top five.”
is working with young fighters Stan Martyniouk and NABO champion Karim
Mayfield. It's obvious that the work is just as beneficial for Hunter as
it is the fighters.
really get a joy out of teaching. I like building my own fighters. It
keeps you challenged and motivated. I have two amateurs I’m working with
too. Working with all of them teaches you how to coach."
Recent work from Raspanti:
Boxing Book Corner: Primo Carnera J.J. Raspanti
Boxing Book Review: Gabriel Ruelas the focus of "Business of Pain" by Araceli Martinez-Rose J.J. Raspanti
Broner knocks out Perez, Alexander schools Maidana John J. Raspanti
‘On Freddie Roach’ is quietly compelling television John J. Raspanti
Angelo Dundee, who trained Muhammad Ali, dies at 90 JJ Raspanti
Lightning Lonnie Smith: “My eyes are set on the WBC belt” John J. Raspanti
Seth Mitchell: “I’m ready to challenge the top heavyweights” John J. Raspanti
John Scully Interview: From ranking contender to championship trainer John J. Raspanti
"The Last Great Prizefight", by Steven Frederick - A Review John J. Raspanti
David Rodriguez: "I thank God I’m alive" - "The blood was squirting out like a sprinkler" John J. Raspanti
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