Veteran American trainer Roger Bloodworth talks about his long career in boxing and shares some insights and memories of Golota, Whitaker, Adamek, Peden, Molina, Tyson and more...
"I wasn't a boxer, I was a wrestler in school. My first memory of boxing is my son Derek fighting when he was eight. He lost his first few fights but he boxed for ten years, over 100 fights, went to Nationals a couple of times, but decided he wanted to go to college. Today he's an independent contractor, he writes logistics software for the government."
"One of the greatest fights I ever attended was Pernell Whitaker against Julio Cesar Chavez, being in that corner for that fight. There was over 60,000 people.. My wife told me going into that fight she had a dream and it was going to be a draw. The odds of being a draw were like 100-1 or something. I said, No way. It's a Don King promotion. If it's a draw they'll give it to Chavez. But I didn't imagine that Whitaker would dominate him like that. And they made it a draw to keep him from getting beat. That was a great moment. I never saw so many people leave an arena so quickly and quietly. When the decision was announced, nobody applauded or booed, they just got up and left. That was a great performance by Pernell."
"Pernell always expected to beat Chavez easy. One thing about Pernell, when you stepped into the ring with him, that was his office. One of the most amazing fights I saw was him against Julio Cesar Vasquez at 154. I thought he may have bitten off a little more than he could chew. The guy was big, strong and he was a southpaw. I remember he hit Pernell - I actually saw his toes come up off the mat a little bit. And he came to finish it and Pernell staggered him. I don't know where the power came from but he cracked him. And he beat him. I couldn't believe it. He told me right after, 'I'm back down to '47. I don't belong here. Guy's too big.' He's probably the greatest fighter I had the privilege to work with. He was something."
"Pernell was shy. I don't think he disliked the media, he just did his thing. Maybe a little shy around people he didn't know."
"The worst moment was Andrew Golota hitting Riddick Bowe in the balls. The second fight. That was painful because he had him beat. There was no reason to do that. But something clicked and he got angry and hit him again. That was bad. Not for me. I think it was painful for Andrew and everybody involved because we knew he could beat him and he was. Actually, the referee gave Bowe brain damage. He should have stopped the fight. Andrew never got that belt. If you get that belt - even if you only hold it for one fight, at least you can say you were world champion. I would have loved to see Andrew win a world title."
"Why didn't Andrew win a title? I’m a boxing trainer, not a psychiatrist. I don’t feel qualified to answer that but there was something in his personality that allowed him to make mistakes at the wrong time."
"People don't realize this business is full of comedians. You go to the gym somedays laughing, not because the guys to stupid things but because they're witty. You might see anything happen in the gym. You see guys do so many things - there's a lot you can't speak of [smiles]. One that I can tell...I remember one time John John Molina, Lou (Duva) told him to go to the Holiday Inn at the red light. And he was gone quite a while. And another Holiday Inn called and said, I think we have one of your fighters down here. We went down and picked him up. It was like five miles from where we started. We said, Why didn't you go to the red light? He goes, They were all green. He didn't stop till he got to a red light, he said every light was green [smiles]. I mean, there's a million stories like that."
"I met Mike Tyson when he was 17. He was fighting in the Golden Gloves in St. Louis at the national tournament. I had the honor of gloving him. At first when I called his name, I didn't know who Mike Tyson was, he was still in the amateurs. We called his name. When I first looked at him, my first impression was, Too short. Too thick. He was a fast heavyweight. Then I watched him go in that night. It was about 11 that first night. And he knocked the guy out in about 30 seconds with a left hook. Next night he was fighting a guy from Pennsylvania, big guy, looked like a lumberjack. Same thing. About 30 seconds, left hook, it was over. Third night, left hook, it was over, first round. I called my friends. You gotta take a look at this kid. This kid is gonna be world champion."
"Tyson was very nice. My fighter Eddie Hopson had a similar story to his. He turned 17 the day before the Olympic Trials. I had two guys that year that both beat Kelcie Banks who was a three-time world champion amateur. And they didn't want either one to go because they didn't have any international experience. And the international judges didn't know them. So they screwed Eddie twice. Kelcie went over and got knocked out in the first round. But because of that, everything happens for a reason. Because of that Mike invited Eddie and I out to his house when he was living in New Jersey. Eddie was born on his birthday and they didn't let Tyson go to the Olympics. It was really nice, a great experience for Eddie and me. Mike's a regular guy, he's always been courteous to me and my wife. I've seen him there up at Big Bear. I never had a problem with Mike. I think he's a misunderstood young man. I think a lot of his image was manufactured. When you try to manufacture the image, sometimes they try to liven it up. The thing that impresses me about Mike Tyson - I saw him on Larry King Live - he's so honest. Even to the point that sometimes he's brutally honest about himself. But I understood why he's doing that. He had to overcome certain things in his life in order to be at the point that he is in his life now. And I think he's happy with himself now. He's at peace. I saw him in The Hangover. I think he has some artistic talents."
"I think the general consensus is it’s a weak era because nobody has solidified the belts. The Klitschkos happen to be very good for this time because they’re very big men. Ali, Foreman, Louis were great fighters. There might not be any Ali or Frazier’s around now, if they were around now I’m not so sure that the Klitschkos would fight ‘em. I think the public has a general perception the Klitschkos are picking and choosing their fights, to perpetuate their tenure in office, if you want to put it that way."
"I think Tomasz needs to improve on everything to beat Wladimir or Vitali. And I’m not being facetious. He needs more work on the head movement, foot movement, lateral movement. Because you don’t know what they’re going to bring into the game. Sometimes they’re gonna come in and box, sometimes they come in and attack. He has to be prepared for everything. I don’t think he’s that far away. We’re just going fight by fight. I knew Tomasz's work ethic was very good. I guess maybe his intelligence is the most surprising thing. Not that fighters aren’t intelligent – some are more intelligent. He learns very quickly. And he’s adapting really well. When you tell him something, he goes away and thinks about it, he comes back – he might do it in his own style – but he’s learning very quickly. In some respects, Tomasz is better than Golota. I think he might be a little tougher mentally. But he’s not as big. But on the other hand, he’s much quicker. He’s very quick."
"I've been blessed. I came in with Main Events when they were at the top. I got to work with so many good fighters. I've been blessed. I've had a great ride."