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Q & A With Jameel McCline
Jan 24, 2004 ( Photos © HoganPhotos.com )
Jameel McCline: "I don’t care who I fight next, as long as they are the best!"
Jameel "Big Time" McCline saw an opportunity to get back into title contention go out the window in the past few days with the news of James Toney’s injury and the subsequent cancellation of their bout on February 7th. McCline is understandably disappointed, but in spite of this, was willing to spare a few moments to express his feelings on the fight, among other topics.
McCline was unfairly written off by some after his loss to Wladimir Klitschko, and is out to prove the critics wrong. McCline has proven himself with wins over Michael Grant, Lance Whitaker, Shannon Briggs and most recently undefeated prospect Cedric Boswell. He was in the fight against Klitschko until the end, and taking all of this together, it becomes clear that this is a fighter who is willing to fight and is capable of beating anyone in the heavyweight division.
Listen to McCline and one cannot help, but get the sense that he is a man on a mission who will not stop until he reaches his goal of becoming the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Considering the ups and downs he has gone through in the past few days, McCline came off to this writer exactly as you see him on television, as a true gentleman, and one who, without question, deserves another chance to make it to the "Big Time." Here is what McCline had to say:
DB: Jameel, describe the letdown that the cancellation of this fight with James Toney has been for you.
I thought about it, I spoke about it, and I thought about it some more and spoke about it with my people, and the biggest disappointment, and I say this passionately, is that I didn’t get a chance to show everybody that they have no idea what they are talking about. James Toney will beat Jameel McCline, because he beat Holyfield? Please! I was just so disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to show the world that I am so much more than they thought I was. That’s my biggest disappointment. I’m one of the best heavyweights in the world. I had a horrible showing against Klitschko and everybody keeps talking about the Klitschko fight. What about the fact that I’ve only lost one fight in the last thirty some odd fights? It’s just ridiculous.
DB: Will you be getting an opponent to replace James Toney?
The fight is completely off.
DB: Do you think that there is a chance of fighting Toney once he recovers from his injury?
By the time his injury is healed, I’ll already be in a position where I don’t need Toney. Toney will totally need me. And the only reason why he would get a shot is because I would want to prove the people wrong, all these writers and all these people, you know, I have a standing rule that I don’t read anything, listen to anything online, magazine, print, whatever, concerning the fight once camp starts. So, obviously the fight was called off, so there were a few things around that my manager, my wife sent me, so I read a few things. And MY GOD! I couldn’t believe it! I read one thing where the guy was saying Toney was going to beat me silly! No way, no how, I don’t give a f*** who he is, how belligerent he is, how idiotic he is, how disrespectful, there is no way he was going to beat me silly.
DB: Toney is definitely known for trash-talking. Had any of the stuff he said gotten to you?
(Cutting me off) No, I’ll stop you right there. No, none of it got into my head. In fact, I told my wife, no more interviews as of the other day, because that’s all anyone wanted to talk about, ‘did he get into my head?’ No, he didn’t get into my head, I’m sick of hearing it! I’m sick of hearing how he can get into…Please! This is the fight game…get into what head?! I’ve been fighting all my life. At six years old I was put into foster care. At ten years old I was beaten by my foster brothers and abused by my foster family and they did nothing to help me. I’ve been on my own since I was eighteen, in prison for f***in’ five years, solitary confinement for fourteen months straight. I didn’t come out of my cell at one period for f***in’ nine weeks straight. What? And I’m gonna let somebody get into my head?
You know what kind of mental fortitude you gotta have not to go crazy nine weeks straight in the f***in’ box? Please, give me a break. What? He talks a little bit? Big deal! No, he does not get to me. The only talk I heard was at the press conference and all the other talk I heard second hand. As far as I’m concerned it stopped right there and I didn’t want to hear anymore. I am too big, too strong, I’ve got good speed, I’ve got a great chin, who is he gonna hurt? What? He knocked out Jirov and Holyfield? Big deal. Jirov punched himself out, it was a good fight, and he wasn’t even winning when Jirov punched himself out. And Holyfield is 40 years old. Gimme a break. I’ve got no mileage on me, I’m not beat up like any of the heavyweights in the division. I started late, so that helped me, I’m a fresh, hungry, strong heavyweight. How the hell was he going to annihilate me like people say he was? That in itself is the biggest disappointment for me, not the fact that I missed a payday, not the fact that I don’t get to put a future Hall of Famer on my dossier, the fact that I didn’t get to prove all the people wrong. I love challenges, and by all these people picking him to not just beat me, but annihilate, me, I couldn’t believe it.
DB: Who would you like to fight next now that this opportunity is gone?
Well, when you look at all the guys I’ve fought, each time I’ve fought someone, they were considered amongst the best in the world. When I fought Michael Grant, he had only lost to Lewis. Goofi was killing everybody, Briggs has always been a decent fighter, and Klitschko was the next coming. And my two comeback fights, in my first comeback fight everyone was telling me ‘you can’t take this fight, what are you doing? This is your first fight back!’ And I’m like ‘What? What’s the big deal? I got beat and now I gotta start fighting bums?’ To answer your question, I don’t care who I fight next, as long as they are considered the best in the world. That’s the way I’ve always been, that’s the way I will continue to be. I don’t care if it’s David Tua, Hasim Rahman, one of the Klitschkos, maybe Lennox Lewis will give me a shot. Anybody, I don’t care, as long as they are considered one of the best in the world. The reason I was so passionate about Toney is that everyone put him at number five. I don’t think he’s a legitimate number five heavyweight, but they put him there and I wanted that spot more than I wanted blood.
DB: What do you consider the milestone of your life to this point, and the milestone of your boxing career?
Jameel McCline: The milestone of my life is achieving what I have achieved ten years after being released from prison, without a dime in my pocket and without a friend in the world. The milestone of my boxing career is just being considered a legitimate, solid, definite top 10 fighter.
DB: To end on a very positive note, please talk a little about some of the work you do speaking to children.
I do a lot of stuff for children. In fact, yesterday I had an open sparring and one of the conditions for anyone to get an autograph was to donate school supplies, athletic supplies for the youth guidance program here in Vero Beach, Florida. I had a situation about two or three months ago where I was in Manhattan, where I was on my way to my promoter’s office and I felt like walking. I stopped at a store to get something to drink, and on the corner there were these kids, about late teens early twenties, just real roughneck types. They were talking, being rowdy, and one of the kids recognized me. They all came around me, and I just remember I took that opportunity and I said "Listen, let me tell you guys something.
What you’re doing right now, I did. And that leads you nowhere. You gotta get off this corner." It was the strangest thing, because before I went into the store they all looked at me, all "hard," and then once I started talking to them they were like little kids. They were like "yeah, you’re right, cause I wanna rap" and another was like "I want to be an architect" and it really was the strangest thing. I’m looking at these roughneck kids talking about their inner dreams and I was just really happy that I got to them. They went from being on the corner, and once they gave me the chance, I took a shot in the dark and hit them with some of my ideas. I walked away feeling really good, even though I was late to Cedric Kushner’s office, but I spent about 45 minutes with those guys and it was worth it.
Note: DoghouseBoxing would like to personally thank Mrs. Tina McCline, Jameel’s wife, for her assistance in helping conduct this interview. Also, for all Doghouse Boxing readers Jameel invites you to check out his website at: www.jameelbigtimemccline.com
Professional Record: 36 fights; 30+ (18 KO), 3=, 3-
- 1995 -
+ (Oct-10-1995, Rochester) Brian NIX kot 1
- (Nov-18-1995, Atlantic City) Gary BELL ko 1
- 1996 -
+ (Feb-9-1996, Atlantic City) Swayne EVANS ko 1
= (Mar-15-1996, Atlantic City) Albert WILLIAMS 4
- (Apr-12-1996, Bushkill) Greg PICKROM 8
+ (Aug-21-1996, Raleigh) Charlie Brazell ko 1
- 1997 -
+ (May-5-1997, Atlantic City) Mark WHITTAKER kot 3
+ (Jul-15-1997, Rochester) Curt PAIGE 4
+ (Sep-27-1997, West Palm Beach) Charles CUE 6
+ (Nov-1-1997, New York) Rowyan WALLACE ko 2
- 1998 -
+ (Jan-29-1998, Midlothian) Frankie HINES ko 1
+ (Feb-25-1998, Raleigh) Marcus HARDEN 4
+ (Mar-21-1998, Charlotte) Robert COLAY kot 5
+ (Apr-4-1998, Lake Worth) Floyd WOMACK kot 2
+ (Jun-25-1998, Atlanta) Carlton DAVIS ko 1
+ (Jul-30-1998, Atlanta) Shane HYKES ko 2
+ (Aug-27-1998, Atlanta) Kimmuel ODUM ko 4
+ (Sep-24-1998, Atlanta) Guy SONNENBERG kot 5
+ (Nov-4-1998, Virginia Beach) Mike DIXON kot 1
+ (Dec-4-1998, Greensboro) Bryant SMITH 8
- 1999 -
+ (Mar-24-1999, Miami) Garing LANE 8
+ (Jun-24-1999, Atlanta) Harry DANIELS 6
+ (Sep-14-1999, Yonkers) Jimmy HAYNES kot 3
- 2000 -
= (Jan-27-2000, New York) Ron GUERRERO 8
+ (Mar-30-2000, New York) Eddie RICHARDSON 8
= (Jun-29-2000, New York) Sherman WILLIAMS 10
+ (Jul-27-2000, New York) Sedreck FIELDS 10
+ (Sep-14-2000, New York) Reynaldo MINUS 8
- 2001 -
+ (Jan-24-2001, Las Vegas) King IPITAN kot 1
+ (May-25-2001, Norfolk) Alfred COLE 10
+ (Jul-21-2001, Las Vegas) Michael GRANT kot 1
+ (Dec-1-2001, New York) Lance WHITAKER 12
- 2002 -
+ (Apr-27-2002, New York) Shannon BRIGGS 10
- (Dec-7-2002, Las Vegas) Wladimir KLITSCHKO retiring 11 (W.B.O., Heavyweight)
- 2003 -
+ (May-9-2003, Atlantic City) Charles SHUFFORD kot 3
+ (Oct-3-2003, Las Vegas) Cedric BOSWELL kot 10
( ** Special Thanks to Tom Hogan HoganPhotos.com )