Topic to Topic with Mosley's trainer John David Jackson
Interview by Chris Robinson (February 16, 2005)
The Welterweight division looks to be pretty hot once again. From Zab Judah winning the belts over Cory Spinks, Antonio Margarito and Kermit Cintron possibly fighting in a few months, and the return of ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley and Oscar de la Hoya, the division truly has a new look to it and could be showcasing some of the game’s best talents this year.
John David Jackson
Mosley used to rule 147 lbs. and he is looking to once again take over. We caught up with Mosley’s new trainer John David Jackson to get his thoughts on Mosley’s return to the welterweight division, the upcoming Hopkins-Eastman clash, the good and bad sides of Don King, and much more as we went topic to topic with the former champ.
Working with Shane…
‘It’s going pretty well. I’ve known Shane and we’ve sparred before. There isn’t a lot that I don’t know about him or his style. At this point, since he’s coming back down to 147 we’re working on bringing back some of his movement. We know he has punching power and he’s also pretty strong for a welterweight. We’re actually working on more volume punching with Shane, because we know the power will come. I’ve known Shane for about 12 years now.’
Future opponents for Shane at 147…
‘There’s a lot of big fights at 147 for him. Judah just won the title and they are talking about Kostya Tszyu moving up too. There are also a lot of young welterweights coming up that would make good fights too. If you’re talking about the cash cow of the division, then of course you have too look at Oscar De La Hoya, but I don’t really think he’d want to fight Shane a third time. Even though he doesn’t have the belts, I still consider Shane the man to beat at Welterweight. The more you look at it nowadays there are a lot more big fights out there that speak for themselves without having to have a title. If the fight is big enough you don’t need a title, it often seems. Whether he gets a shot or not there will be big fights for Shane very soon.’
The atmosphere in Shane’s camp before the De la Hoya fight…
‘The atmosphere was nice. You could feel in the air that something special was going to happen that night. The fact that he was going to be fighting Oscar made everything seem bigger. Whenever you’re fighting Oscar things are that much more hyped up already. The excitement was definitely there.’
Looking at Zab Judah, who recently won the Welterweight crown by beating Cory Spinks…
‘I think he’s a poor man’s version of Pernell Whitaker. Defensively he’s lacking. He has very good hand speed but his punches are off balance a lot. His balance is bad. Overall, I think he pretty much had Spinks figured out after the first fight.’
Sizing up Welterweight Kermit Cintron, and how he would match up with Shane…
‘The book on the kid is that he’s big and strong but he’s never boxed someone with Shane’s knowledge or experience. I really don’t see a young kid like Cintron being able to keep up with Shane. These young kids, some of them can fight but most of them haven’t properly been taught how to box. This guy might be strong and he might have a good chin but after about 3 or 4 rounds Shane’s skill level would set him apart.’
Working with fighters at Big Bear…
‘Big Bear is Big Bear ya know? It’s far away from the big city and the temptations of city life. It’s not as secluded as some training camps are but it’s secluded enough to where you really can’t get into too much trouble.’
Secluded training camps always the best way to go?
‘You know it depends on the fighter. When I was fighting I knew that some training camps were secluded just like a real camp. But I also remember training in Philadelphia and enjoying being able to get out once a while and it wasn’t a problem. If a fighter is disciplined enough, it’s not a problem training around a big city.'
Born, raised, and getting into the fight game…
‘I was born in Denver, Colorado and later moved to Seattle, Washington. I got into boxing by chance. I was walking with a friend of mine to go play some basketball and we walked passed a boxing gym. I looked inside and said ‘Hey, I'd like to try that’. So I got in the ring and got my butt kicked. My nose was bloodied and I was tore up but I was so happy because I did it. I took it seriously, spent six months training and getting ready, and from there it was on. I made sure the next time I got into the ring I wouldn’t be getting my butt kicked again.
What initially drew me to boxing was actually the first Ali-Frazier fight, believe it or not. It was great seeing two black guys boxing and to see them on every TV station and every newspaper; that intrigued me, all the attention they were getting. I said “I want to be that.”
Jackson’s original trainer, George Benton…
‘My trainer was George Benton. When I first met him, we really clicked. I remember constantly going over to his place and picking his brain and untapping all of the boxing knowledge he had. He actually probably got tired of me hanging around him all the time. I would pick his brain for hours, and he would teach and show me all kinds of things. As I got older, I was able to incorporate a lot of his boxing philosophy into mine. ‘
Training his fighters…
‘I don’t really try to change a fighter, I ask them what they want to do and we work on that. If they like to box then we work on their boxing skills. If they are a puncher then we work on their punching. Whatever style they have is what I work with. I tell them that whatever they’ve done to get where they are at, is what we will work on. I simply want to improve on what they are trying to do. My philosophy is to work on their good points and to give them longevity.’
Traveling around as an amateur, professional, and now as a trainer…
‘During my amateur days it was great because all we did was fight, nothing else. I didn’t really have any other worries except fighting. Professionally it wasn’t as much fun because I couldn’t enjoy my travels or go sightseeing. Whenever we would go to another country, it would always be a certain amount of days before the fight. Now, that I’m a trainer it's actually a lot better. I have more free time. I work with my fighters, make sure everything is alright with them, and after that I can relax and enjoy some free time on my own. So, as an amateur is was great, as a professional it wasn’t as fun, but now as a trainer it's gotten better.’
Working with Jr. Lightweight contender Nate Campbell, who is fighting for the IBF belt against Robbie Peden in Australia on February 23rd…
‘Aside from the ending, where Nate got careless, it’s going to be the same butt-whipping as the first time out. Peden did finish things the first time out, but up until that point Nate executed our game plan very well. Nothing is going to change, except for the ending of the fight. It wasn’t what Peden did, it was the mistake that Nate made that cost him. Nate’s a better boxer, a better puncher, and a better technician. I tell Nate that the title is his. Don’t claim it until afterwards, but know that it's your belt and all you have to do is win to get it.’
In this fight I’m telling Nate to start quicker. We hurt Peden last time out with some body shots and this time we want to get on him faster. Nate’s a great body puncher and he also had a great jab, when he decides to use it. Nate has long arms for a Jr. Lightweight and needs to use his jab more. Nate is a hell of a boxer, but because he is also a puncher he can sometimes get caught up in the punching aspect of things. I’m working on telling him to box first, set things up, and the power will come from there.’
Bernard ‘The Executioner’ Hopkins, who is defending his belts in a week and who Jackson has also previously fought…
‘Bernard is an overachiever. I give him credit for that. He’s always been able to maintain his weight and that’s his greatest achievement in my eyes. He’s a great fighter but he didn’t have the era of guys like Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Marvin Hagler.
Bernard has made things harder for himself than he should have. There are bigger fights out there that he should have taken. In his two biggest wins, Trinidad and De la Hoya, he beat guys who weren’t real middleweights. I haven’t seen him beat a great fighter who is as big as he is. Roy beat him and Roy only had one good hand. But despite all of that he has done well for himself. He’s made a lot of money and he’s defended his belt almost twenty times.
Before I fought Bernard I was fighting at 168 and 175 lbs. I was crying sour grapes when I finally got down to Middleweight and I was dead in the water. I had nothing left after two rounds. I can’t cry about it though, things happen.
Hopkins’ February 19th opponent Howard Eastman…
‘He seems like he has a hard head. The level of competition for European fighters isn’t always great, so we don’t really know how good Eastman could be. I thought he beat William Joppy, but my question is ‘Has he improved since then?’ One thing about Bernard, he’s a slow starter who breaks you down. In the early rounds he might jump on you, he might just size you up. Once Bernard finds out that this guy can’t hurt him, Bernard is going to walk all over him. ‘
Fighting on the elaborate Don King cards of the 90’s, with guys like Felix Trinidad, Mike Tyson, and Julio Cesar Chavez…
‘It was great. If you didn’t fight early, you could be there all night long. It was nice, because I was around a lot of good people. Before Tyson got out of prison, Don put on the best shows in boxing. He would have 4 or 5 title fights in one card. Those were the best days to be around. Some of the best fights would be off TV. Everybody would fight and we developed a strong bond with each other. Don really gave people their money’s worth too. ‘
The good and bad sides of Don King…
‘He’s both good and bad for boxing, a little bit of both. Don put on some great shows early on. I remember after I first got my contract, he pulled me to the side and told me ‘Look, I don’t need to rob you of twenty or thirty thousand dollars because I make BIG money’. He can say that, but if you had a dime, you better believe Don would do anything he could just to get seven cents of it. That’s just his street mentality. He knows how to hustle. His longevity has been remarkable.
He’s had his bad moments in boxing too. It depends what side of the fence you’re on when looking at Don King. You could look at him and say he’s terrible for the sport or you could also say that he’s kept the sport alive over the years. He has his good and bad points, he’s a little bit of both.’
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