|Interview with undefeated Enrique Palau with Trainer Sean “Fitzy” Fitzgerald
INTERVIEW by Alex Pierpaoli (Dec 14, 2006)
The junior middleweight division is one of boxing’s most competitive and talent-filled weight classes. On Friday night undefeated junior middle Enrique Palau, 6-0 (5), of Worcester, MA, takes another step in his young career when he fights Hollister Elliott, 7-16-1 (2), of Dorchester, MA, on Battle Zone’s Pro Boxing Show at The Castle in Boston. The twenty-seven year old Palau is trained by Sean “Fitzy” Fitzgerald, who runs the Camp Fitzy boxing gym in Worcester, MA. Recently, Doghouse had the chance to speak to both Fitzgerald and Palau.
So Sean, how’d you two get started? How long have you been working together?
“We’ve been working together for a little over a year now. Enrique came in and wanted to turn pro. I told him the pros are going to be a lot different, you’re going to need to train if you want to succeed. It’s a business. And he’s been coming to the gym every day since then, I can’t get him out of the gym now.”
How are things going in training camp?
“Very good. We’re sparring today. He’s fighting southpaw to give Jose [Antonio Rivera] some work.” (Jose Antonio Rivera faces southpaw Travis Simms on January sixth.)
Enrique’s a southpaw?
“No, he’s not but he can fight southpaw. He switches up nice, without missing a beat.”
Now, Sean, you had a career as a fighter yourself, correct?
“Yeah, I had 33 pro fights.”
Did you face any big name opponents in your career?
“I fought Roberto Duran back in 93. I won every round I just ran outta gas. That was the fight that put me on the map. I dominated him for six rounds but I ran outta gas and he got me.”
Fitzgerald ended his career with a record of 29-2-2 (11) and now dedicates his time to honing the skills of Enrique Palau.
So Enrique, how do the pros differ from your experience as an amateur?
“Big difference. I like the pro-game way better than the amateurs. The extra minute, it’s not such a fast pace, I can settle down a little more and relax a little more and I don’t have to rush through a three round, two minute rounds fight. I am more comfortable with the pro-game.”
Being from the northeast is it difficult staying busy or are you happy with the amount of activity you’re getting? We don’t have as many shows as they do out West, you know?
“No, it’s been good. Basically it’s been a little over a year and I’m on my seventh fight. Within a year I’ve had six fights. I coulda had probably a couple more, a couple got cancelled along the way. But I like the pace. I’m going at a good quick pace I believe.”
You’ve been working with Jose Antonio Rivera in training camp, how has that been?
“It doesn’t get better than that. He has a tremendous amount of experience over me. If I can do well with him and hang in there with him I can do it with anyone. At the end of the day he’s a champ, you know?”
Sean says you’ve been playing the role of a southpaw in sparring with Rivera, is that something you do in the ring; switch styles like that?
“It’s a little tricky but when I’m not working out for a fight I try to go in the gym and practice southpaw a bit on the bags. I wanna know how to switch-up and do it in a good effective way. And if I can help Jose by fighting southpaw it’s better for him. I like southpaw.”
If you saw the recent Cotto-Quintana fight, Cotto switched to southpaw and really made it work for him.
“Exactly. You know Cotto, I like Cotto. I am a big fan of Cotto. Right now he’s one of my top three fighters. He’s doing really good things, man.”
Cotto is a brutal body puncher, is that something you also want to be known for; good hard body-punching?
“In my past two fights I became a huge body puncher. I love the body now. Once you take away the body you know the hands start dropping and that’s when you come back up top. I love the body.”
That’s got to be a big change from the amateurs. They don’t seem to score body punches and few of the fighters really throw a lot of them.
“Exactly. It’s a funny thing, I was just thinking of this the other day. As an amateur I really never punched the body. But now it’s like I love to punch the body. I was thinking when I was fighting as an amateur, what if I went to the body? It probably would have been a big difference but I never did it as an amateur.”
How would you describe your fighting style as a pro?
“As a pro, working with Fitzy, he’s taught me how to counter a whole lot more, how to box more. I can be an aggressive fighter. But now I know how to be aggressive when I have to be aggressive. And I know when to box and counter punch when I need to. And maybe my style depends more on my opponent’s style, you know.”
What do you know about this guy you’re fighting Friday night?
“He’s a veteran. He’s been a pro for a little over twenty years now. What can I say, I don’t like no one I fight. I’m going in the ring to do what I have to do. Boxing is my career and I’m going in there to basically kick his ass. That’s what I have to do and that’s what I want to do. I’m training for him right now. I wanna get another victory under my belt. He’s a veteran and I’m not taking him lightly. I’m training hard because he’s a veteran and I know he has a lot of trickiness to him. He has a lot of experience. So I need to just be on point you know and not let my guard down.”
What’s a typical day of training like for you?
“Waking up early in the morning and going for a long long very long run, going back home, showering up and then rest a little bit. Basically then hitting the gym at night time, getting the body adjusted to fighting at night time. Hitting the bag, every bag there is, regular hard workouts. Twelve rounds or so. And as the days go by we do more rounds.”
Is this fight scheduled for 4 or 6 rounds on Friday night?
“This is a six-rounder.”
And you plan on coming in at 154 or thereabouts?
What do you think about some of the up and coming stars and champs in the middleweight and junior middleweight divisions? You saw the HBO show featuring Berto and Taylor, right?
“They’re good fighters, of course. Berto is aggressive, Jermain Taylor has a good style, he’s quick. They’re good. I’m hoping to see them one day. Maybe one day we’ll see each other, we’re about the same weight. If and when the time comes to do it let’s do it.”
Do you find that confidence is one of the most important qualities for a fighter to have?
“Confidence is very important. I’m very confident. I picture myself as a world champion. I’m not in boxing just to be a prize-fighter. I’m not going to fight just to fight for a couple dollars. No. I’m fighting to get that championship belt. I want to be undisputed champion. I want to become best in my weight class. That’s the way I envision myself. I want to be an elite fighter. I wanna be a contender not a pretender, you know? A lot of people do it just to do it. No, that’s not me. This is my career, this is what I always wanted. My amateur career, I never wanted an amateur career. I did it because I wanted to fight. But I’m a pro now and everything’s different. All my emotions, all my drive, everything; I’m putting everything in my life into this.”
That’s good motivation to have, especially when you’re waking up to do those long runs.
“Definitely. Long runs! Believe me, Sean takes me on some long runs. Crazy mountain type hikes!”
With motivation like Enrique Palau has got his next bout is sure to be exciting. If you’re in the Boston area, attending a live boxing show is a great way to spend a Friday night. Tickets are still available by calling (617) 842-8661 or through www.ticketmaster.com.
Send questions or comments to Alex Pierpaoli at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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