Q&A: Monty Meza Clay to 130 Lb. Titlists - "I'm Thinking About You" By Brian Gorman, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 25, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
Pittsburgh's Monty Meza Clay (28-3, 19 KOs) will return to the ring Saturday night, August 28 to headline the inaugural card at Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino against on the "All-American Boys," Allen Litzau in a junior lightweight (130 lb.) bout. After a year-plus layoff due to assorted injuries, including the elbow and shoulder, Meza Clay spoke about his comeback and his future.
Brian Gorman: How do you feel going into this bout? Are you 100 percent?
Monty Meza Clay: Yes sir, I'm ready, although I don't think a fighter can ever be 100 percent. I'm 99.9.
BG: None of the injuries have been hampering your preparation?
MMC: No, I'm good; I've been nursing them pretty good. I've got some good doctors, good therapists. I'm doing all of the things I'm supposed to do to nurse the injuries, to treat them. At the show you will see 100 percent.
BG: You've been up to 135 (three years ago) and down to 126 (last year). Do you think you've found the right spot at 130? Are you going to stay there?
MMC: I was actually doing my thing at 130 for a while, then I didn't watch my weight a couple times and went up to 135, so I had been at 130 and then down to 126. 130 is where I'm supposed to be. At 126, I was sucking a few pounds.
BG: What should we expect Saturday night? The same game plan we've always seen, or should we expect something new?
MMC: You always got to add to the arsenal. I'm still that exciting type of fighter, but I've added a lot of boxing to my arsenal. Not just full speed ahead with no head movement. I had head movement, but I have a lot more now. When they would say box, I'd wanna fight. Now when they say to box, I'm gonna box more, and when it's time to fight, I'll be ready.
BG: You've fought over 30 times now. Do you have a long term plan or are you just going to take it fight by fight?
MMC: You definitely look towards the future. I want longevity; I want to keep the body healthy so that I can last a lot longer. Boxing takes its toll, physically, mentally, emotionally. Luckily for me, I'm spiritually strong.
BG: 130 seems to be there for the taking. Is there anyone that you're targeting, maybe even Litzau's brother (Jason, a highly-ranked junior lightweight)?
MMC: I can't say no one in particular, but anyone who's got that number one spot. So if you happen to have that number one spot, I'm thinking about you. You are in mind. (Jason and Meza Clay) were gonna fight a while back, before we even talked about his brother. I'll get his brother out of the way, then I'll see him.
BG: Will you go up to 135 or down to 126 for the right fight, or do you pretty much have your eye on 130?
MMC: Yeah, 130. I'm cruising where I'm at right now. I don't believe I'll see 126 again. Those few pounds, a lot of people don't think that's a lot of weight, but it really is. and still stay strong. The few fights I did have at 126, I noticed a huge difference in my fight game. I didn't have - whatever it was - I didn't have that little bit of umph that I needed, to turn that switch on. I know what it feels like to get in there and grooving, that rhythm, and I never could pick it up at 126.
BG: Are there a couple people out there that you think, "There's a guy I'd like to get into the ring with."
MMC: It's kind of funny, I'm not a fighter to even know who's there right now. I'm not on the internet. It's hard enough focusing on myself. If you know who the #1 fighters are, who the title holders are at 130 pounds, know that I'm speaking about them. That's who I want to fight. I honestly don't know who they are. I never gave my promoters a hassle when they offered me a fight, never said "I don't know." I'll show up, I'll be there. I stay conditioned, working on my fight game, my craft, and I'll be present at the fight.
BG: Your style's always been to get on top of a guy and don't let him breathe, to wear a guy down. Is that what we should expect from you Saturday night? Are you looking to take Litzau out early?
MMC: Yeah, I'm always looking for - I'm not trying to knock him out, I'm just going to just let it take place. I'll always be an aggressive fighter; that's my style. I don't know backwards, I know forward. I don't know reverse. The style will be the same, but there's going to be a lot more rhythm. With the injuries, I learned a lot more. I'll always be a student of the game.
BG: When you say you're a student of the game, what do you do to learn more?
MMC: Pay attention, listen. I'm a very good listener. I'm not big on film, but I'm trying to get into it more. Like I said, when the fights come on, I'm not running to the TV to see who's on. I focus on me. I watch a lot of film of myself, paying attention to my mistakes. There's nothing like watching that mirror image of yourself. Seeing what looks sloppy. And my trainer (Tom Yankello), he's a real teacher. What better guy to teach you than the guy who lives directly across the street from (his) gym? He's a gym rat. You have to have confidence in who you're training with.
BG: Is there any fighter, past or present, that you try to emulate or imitate, that you try to model your style after?
MMC: I look at styles different. I look at attitude - what happnes when he gets hit? How does he react to it? Like, Roberto Duran if you can recall, there was something inside of him, like a monster in this man, that when it was time for him to turn it on, he turned it on. He had that attitude. So I look different at a fighter. I look at the aggressiveness, the attitude, the eagerness, the meanness, all that. Duran, he had heart, but he had skill too. On this elite level, you can't beat these guys with just pure heart.
BG: What is your timetable for how long or how many fights it will take to get a world title shot?
MMC: I let my team work on that and I I have a lot of faith. When I got my body right, I also got my mind right, and I have a sports psychologist, Dr. George Pappas (of Pittsburgh, who's also worked with Steelers and pro basketball players). So my trainer Tom Yankello trains me physically, and Dr. Pappas trains me mentally. He taught me not to rush too much, because when you rush, you make mistakes. So definitely a shout out to him for instilling the patience. I have faith in God, and I have faith in my team.