Kali Meehan: I will knock Rahman out
Interview by Benny Henderson Jr. and Anthony Cocks (November 1, 2004)
It's hard to believe that just two months ago Kali 'Checkmate' Meehan was an unknown quantity in the heavyweight division. Yes folks, it was only on September 4th that the 34-year-old New Zealand born Australian announced himself to the boxing world with a closely contested twelve round battle with WBO champion Lamon Brewster that many people felt Meehan had won. Meehan, 29-2 (23), dictated large parts of the fight and had Brewster out on his feet in the eighth, but while one of the judges scored it in favour of the affable giant, the other two judges awarded the fight to the reigning champ. Meehen's performance has earned him another shot at the big time on November 13th when he faces former WBC/IBF champion and Lennox Lewis conqueror Hasim 'The Rock' Rahman on Don King's mammoth heavyweight card called 'Battle for Supremacy' at Madison Square Garden. Rahman, 39-5-1 (32), has run hot and cold since his shocking fifth round KO of Lewis in South Africa, but a focused Rahman has more than enough left in the tank to trouble any heavyweight contender. A relaxed and confident Meehan dropped by the Doghouse to explain what he learnt from the Brewster bout, how his preparation has been going for the Rahman fight and why he believes he will KO 'The Rock'.
AC: What are your thoughts on the Hasim Rahman bout?
KM: I can't wait mate, I'm really excited. I'm pumped, I'm just happy to be fighting up at that level, you know.
AC: How has your preparation been for this fight?
KM: Yeah, good. Fit and strong. I just really can't wait. I'm really, really looking forward to it.
AC: What are you expecting from Rahman in this bout?
KM: I'm expecting him to come out and try to knock me out! Nothing less.
AC: You prepared for your bout against Brewster in the States, I know for this one you've been training over here. Do you think that will affect your performance at all, or do you think the quality of work you've had over here will see you through?
KM: Yeah, it'll see me through, mate. I've had good work here. It's a lot easier I think in your hometown, where you live, you know what I mean? You're used to everything around you and it's not a new environment. I'm happy with my training for this fight.
AC: Who have you been using as sparring partners?
KM: The most sparring I have been doing is with a guy called Kava. We've been doing a lot of good sparring, good strong hard sparring. I can hit him as hard as I like and he'll just keep coming. They're big shots too, you know. And he's fit and strong. We've been doing a lot of sparring. And another guy from New Zealand is coming over today, we're going to do some more sparring with him.
AC: What's his name?
KM: Shane Cameron.
AC: Against Brewster you were the underdog going into the fight. Do you feel there is more pressure on you now that the Americans know who you are?
KM: Well I think I'm still the underdog for this fight. I know I proved with the Brewster fight that I can mix it at that level. But straight after that because I was unheard of a lot people are still saying 'well, Brewster is not a good fighter'. But people will see… I just have to perform. Brewster is a good fighter and Rahman is a good fighter too. I'm know I'm a good fighter and I deserve to be here. In a lot of people's eyes I still am the underdog because they think Brewster's not really a good fighter, you know what I mean? But Brewster is a good fighter and Rahman is a good fighter too. I don't worry about being an underdog or anything like that. I think I'd rather be the underdog to be honest.
AC: This will be your fourth fight in the States. How do you like fighting over there and how do the American fans treat you?
KM: I love fighting over there. It's the Mecca of boxing and after the [Brewster] fight I had heaps of boxing fans. It was awesome. I was over there for the Trinidad-Mayorga fight at the press conference and a lot of people came and acknowledged me and told me what a great fight I had. It was just good to be recognized as someone who a lot of boxing fans thought deserved to be at that level.
AC: Looking back on that bout with Brewster, do you think you won the fight?
KM: Yeah, I think I did.
AC: Is there a possibility of a rematch at some stage down the track?
KM: Um, whatever; I mean Don King's my promoter and whoever he puts in front of me I'll fight. Do you think I won the fight?
AC: I thought you did mate, I really thought you did. I was worried when it went to the cards, but I was jumping around the lounge room with a mate of mine saying "he's got this one". I thought you had it.
KM: Cheers mate. I thought I had it too, but anyway…
AC: Would you fight the same style of fight against Brewster if you rematched him?
KM: I've learnt a lot from that fight, a lot of mistakes I did and a lot of thing I should've done that I didn't. A lot of it was due to inactivity; I was so rusty, you know. The only fight I had for a few years before that was Damon Reed, who I stopped in the sixth round.
AC: He didn't come to fight, did he?
KM: No, he didn't. It was just inactivity. But all the sparring I had leading up to the Brewster fight, then the Brewster fight and the sparring now, you become a better fighter, you know what I mean?
AC: Now, Rahman and Brewster are both heavy hitters, do you see anything in common in these two fighters and how much of a different fight will it being against Rahman to what it was against Lamon?
KM: For the Brewster fight a lot of people where saying he's got a big left hook, which he has; while for the Rahman fight people are saying he's got a big right hand, which he has. But a lot of people, fighters or whatever, they think that if you fight someone with a big punch it's a handicap you have, but I look at it as a positive. If I fight someone with a big left hook I want them to throw that left hook. I'm looking for that left hook and I try to make them throw it. I think to myself 'where is it, where is it? Throw it, throw it, throw it!' So that as soon as they throw it I can block it or cover up. It just makes the whole fight easier. If you're fighting someone with a big right hand you want them to throw that right hand because you're expecting that right hand, as opposed to going in there thinking 'oh, he's got a big left hook or a big right hand', I believe in trying to make them throw it.
AC: This bout is going to be held at Madison Square Garden and it's on a big Don King promoted heavyweight card with a lot of other important bouts for the heavyweight division. How does it feel to be fighting there considering the rich boxing history Madison Square Garden has?
KM: It's the big time. I'm just so happy to be fighting Rahman there, you know. Not everyone is good enough to fight a former world champion at Madison Square Garden. What more could I ask? I want to prove myself so I've got to do it against this caliber of fighter; Brewster, Rahman, you know. I'm ready to put on my performance and I'll give it my best shot. I'm excited about it.
AC: Rahman can be a bit hot and cold at times. Are you expecting the bout to last the distance?
KM: I think I'll stop him. Not disrespecting the man, but I believe that he's had his time and that he's on the downward path. Everyone thinks that of Rahman, that he's had he's time, he's been to the top of the mountain and now he's coming down. And I know that can make a fighter harder and be more determined, but this is my time and I want to get to the top of the mountain. To me, Rahman is in my way, so I think I'll stop him. But the thing is with heavyweight boxing is that you are always only one punch away, you know what I mean? I can punch and I know he can punch, which is what I believe makes it always very interesting in the heavyweight division. But he's not going to knock me out, no way.
AC: You started fairly slowly against Brewster. Are you going to try to start a bit quicker against Rahman this time out or are you going to try to feel him out for a couple of rounds?
KM: You know, you see what happens in the ring. Sometimes I believe it's no good to get in there and start fast. Sometimes your opponent doesn't let you start fast. Sometimes when you want to start slow your opponent doesn't let you start slow. So you've got to prepare for whatever, just start fast or slow and see how it comes about in the ring. But with Brewster, he was a bit wary of my right hand and I was a bit wary of his left hook. It made it hard because we knew each other's styles so well. Whenever he moved into that position I knew he could throw something up, you know what I mean?
AC: Is there anything you've been working on in particular that you're going to put into play against Rahman?
KM: Punch more, I'm going to punch more. Like I said before I hadn't fought for a long time really when I fought Brewster. And I've been working to punch more, to be more busy because my fitness has lifted too and I'm a lot more fitter and stronger than I was for that fight. Even though I don't know how I'm going to start the fight, I do want to be more busy and more aggressive and just punch more.
AC: When do you head to the States?
KM: We were supposed to leave on Monday, but they've just told us yesterday that there's no hotel rooms until Wednesday, so we're leaving on Wednesday.
AC: Good luck with the rest of your preparation. You've got another opportunity now and I know you'll do Australia and New Zealand proud and I'm looking forward to speaking with you again after you've knocked out Rahman.
KM: Thanks again mate.
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