Naazim Richardson: "We can’t question the integrity of Juan Manuel Marquez. He’s done nothing to have us think he is a guy who would cheat"
Naazim Richardson: "We can’t question the integrity of Juan Manuel Marquez. He’s done nothing to have us think he is a guy who would cheat"
By Jenna Jay and Michael Harris, OnTheRopes Boxing Radio, Doghouse Boxing (Jan 18, 2013) Doghouse Boxing
Naazim Richardson
Click to listen to 'On The Ropes 184' with Brandon Rios, Mikey Garcia, Andy Lee, Michelle Rosado and guest host Naazim Richardson
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The sport of boxing in known for many things, but one of it's most negative aspects is controversy. Boxing produces controversy in many ways, whether it is judging, drug use or corruption, it seems to be a never ending problem. During my 184th edition of "On The Ropes" I was joined by trainer Naazim Richardson to discuss many of the hot topics going on in the sport. Naazim was last seen in the ring with his fighter Steve Cunningham, who himself faced some controversy in his recent decision loss to Tomasz Adamek. Besides discussing the Adamek-Cunningham result, Naazim also touched on Manny Pacquiao's knockout defeat against Juan Manuel Marquez, giving his view not just on the fight, but also the perception by many that Marquez may have cheated in the bout. Additionally Naazim gave his thoughts on the upcoming Salido-Garcia fight and the announcement of Bernard Hopkins vs. Tavoris Cloud. Here is what Naazim had to say.

Jenna Jay: Naazim, the last time we saw you in the corner was the Adamek-Cunningham fight, in which your fighter was on the wrong side of a decision. What are your thoughts on the call?

Naazim Richardson: Well I’ve always been under the belief that in sports we have to be built for all sides of it, and like anything else in life, it’s not always going to go as planned and it’s not always going to be fair. It’s one of those situations that we had in that particular fight, and I’m disappointed for my athlete because I know how hard he worked and what he put forward into it, but I don’t have a problem with Adamek because he didn’t have a pen in his hand; he had gloves on. But still the bitter taste left behind from that particular outing. We have to move on.

Jenna: Since the fight, Adamek has come out in the press and stated he has no interest in a third fight with Cunningham, as the he says Steve's style does not make for the fights his fans want to see. You think that is an excuse?

Naazim: Well Adamek has a great fan base, and being fair to him, with all the controversy that happened in that fight, I feet they did him an injustice. Because naturally he’s the face of the discussion, so fans really came out heavy against him. He’s been getting a lot of flak and a lot of negative feedback by it and it makes you just want to get away from that situation altogether. I’m not sure if Steve wants to be involved in that circus anymore because he had such a bitter attitude that he might not be able to train properly because it takes too much away from you emotionally.

Jenna: Steve Cunningham is a smaller heavyweight, and was only 203 pounds for this fight. Where do you see him going now?

Naazim: Well that’s one of the misfortunes of the Adamek decision. If the Adamek decision would have went properly it would have put him in a position to move forward automatically because it was part of a tournament. But taking that decision away from him and letting the world see that he will not fight you foolishly hurts him. Adamek was comfortable going into the fight because they assumed that Steve’s macho mentality will pull him into something foolish. But now the people see that he is willing to keep distance and fight smart, these heavyweights don’t want to be a part of that. It puts him in a tough position. But there’s other guys out there like Povetkin. Povetkin is a tough kid he will fight just about anybody probably, so maybe it will put him in a position to fight a guy like that.

Jenna: Naazim, last time I had you on the show, you said that Manny Pacquiao could not beat Juan Manuel Marquez, and of course we all know how that last fight played out. What were your thoughts on the final result?

Naazim: I’m a fan of both of these guys, they are outstanding fighters, but I said this before and I’ll say it again, Marquez is a better fighter than Pacquiao. Pacquiao is a better athlete than Marquez and often athletes can get by a fighter with their athleticism, but what you will find is if you keep going in, eventually the better fighter is gonna pull forward and maybe get a result that will erase the other wins. You (Pacquiao) eeked out a win, you’ve never beaten Marquez that definitively. And I just felt it was a bad match up for Pacquiao. I never thought he was the fighter that Marquez was. I picked him in all four fights, I thought he won all four of ‘em. He proved emphatically that he won the fourth one, I thought he won the other three also.

Jenna: Marquez has had some credit taken away from the win by some people making accusations against him due to the strength and conditioning coach he works with. What do you make of that situation?

Naazim: My thing is if you have some proof that somebody is doing something wrong, by all means bring it to the forefront and let’s expose them and get them out of our sport, if you have some proof. If you don’t, we just can’t point fingers at guys and give guys cases if you don’t have any proof they’ve done anything wrong. We can’t question the integrity of Juan Manuel Marquez. He’s done nothing to have us think he is a guy who would cheat or carry himself in that mannerism or that he has ever needed it. What you see in Marquez is technique and you can’t fake technique. There is no drug that helps you have a better technique. As a matter of fact, as much as I like Marquez, he actually did something that we really get on young fighters about not doing. Marquez, the whole fight, looked for a shot. Now we chastise young fighters about that because he was looking for a particular shot. But like I tell people, Marquez looking for a shot and young fighters looking for a shot is like comparisons of me looking for a clue at a crime scene and Sherlock Holmes looking for a clue. There is that great a difference where a fighter of this magnitude, he can actually take his time, find a particular shot and literally destroy another great athlete. He’s a special guy and I think he’s one of the greats. He’s in my top 4 or 5 greatest fighter of all time.

Jenna: Do you think Pacquiao will ever be the same after a knockout like that?

Naazim: The human being that Pacquiao is, there is a chance that he could overcome it. I heard some things that there might be some signs of Alzheimer’s or things of that nature and I pray that’s not the case because he’s such a special guy. We hope to see him come back and move forward in whatever he wants to do. He’s a congressman; He’s an entrepreneur. I just hope the man is healthy, safe and can move forward with his family. In whatever he wants to do I wish him well.

Jenna: Naazim, the first big fight of 2013 takes place this weekend with Orlando Salido & Mikey Garcia squaring off against each other. What are your thoughts on this fight?

Naazim: Two tough guys. The biggest problem they have with that fight is that it being so early in the year is they could get over looked for fight of the year. Because it’s very possible that could be fight of the year because both of these guys can fight, both of these guys can punch and we haven’t seen quit in either one of them.

Jenna: Speaking of Mikey Garcia, some have questioned whether or not he has been brought along too slow. You as a trainer, do you think he was brought along too slow, or do you think this was the best way for him to grow as a fighter?

Naazim: As far as to judge whether or not it’s too slow will manifest itself in the product we see as he moves forward into the championship years. On the outside we can always look and say, “Hey we’re moving this kid too slow”, but the people moving the fighter can realize that mentally he’s not prepared to go to the next endeavor or the next stage yet. So they have better and more intimate information than we have so we really can’t judge from our perspective just looking from the outside. Yeah there’s a cookie cutter… we like to see guys in his young twenties…you usually see guys win titles in their young twenties and maybe make a couple of dollars in their thirties and then it’s time to sit down by the time they’re in their forties. That’s some people but Bernard Hopkins was the exception to the rule. He won titles in his thirties. He made money in his forties… We know he’s a rare cup but who could point and say, “Hey, they moved you along too slow” or they did this or they did that. We don’t know. Boxing is a very creative march and creativity is always going to be measured by the artist that’s at the helm and that’s all we can go by. Who’s to say you use too much coloring on your carrots. Who’s to say that your horizon is too far back on your particular canvas. We paint our own individual pictures. That’s what this sport is and we can’t get away from that.

Jenna: It was recently announced that Bernard Hopkins will be taking on Tavoris Cloud on March 9th. You think this is the right fight for Bernard?

Naazim: You know what, I keep waiting for Bernard to call me and say, “Naazim, I’m fighting so and so and so and so. What do you think?” And I can say, “Bernard, I don’t think you can beat that guy.” I was actually waiting for him to give me a call so I can say that. To help him… first of all to show him how real I would stay with him, but maybe I can get him out of this sport without him ever getting embarrassed. Most of these guys out here matched up with him I think Bernard can beat these guys. Now maybe I’m looking through rose colored glasses but I like Tavoris Cloud. I have always liked Tavoris Cloud. When he was a young kid coming up, as a matter of fact, I thought he was so hungry I didn’t think the older veterans should sit around and mess with him. I even teased Bernard one time I said, “Yo, this young kid is fighting for all the right reasons. He’s just trying to do better for his mother and his family.” I said, “That makes a man dangerous. You don’t need to be in front of that guy.” But like you said, the development is so important when you’re watching an athlete. As I watch Tavoris closer, and watch him in his development, I just don’t think he’s come to fruition where he can’t be outmaneuvered by Bernard Hopkins with all his wisdom.

Jenna: How much have you seen Bernard in the gym and how is he looking?

Naazim: Bernard is in the gym. Bernard’s usually in the gym consistently period. But he’s in the gym shaking off the early rust and everything and he’s on full boar go to get Tavoris Cloud. Like I said, I like Cloud. I think he’s credible but I really think what’s more impressive…I really feel like the Tavoris Cloud fight will really, I mean Bernard’s legacy has been solidified. I’ll put it to you like this, I give him more credit for fighting a Cloud than I give him for fighting Dawson.

Jenna: Naazim could you ever see a scenario in which Bernard overlooks a fighter based on his last performance, as the people that give Hopkins a shot in this fight, point to Cloud's fight with Campillo. Could Bernard look at that fight and at all underestimate Cloud?

Naazim: There is no way I would let him get into that position if I have anything to say about it and I know when I talk to him I’ll drive him about it, for the simple fact, when I start looking at tapes in preparation for this fight I’m not looking at Campillo. Yes, Campillo beat him. I mean we’re not blind. We saw the fight. He beat him. The fight I would have to watch is Tavoris Cloud fighting a Glen Johnson. Where he knows he’s facing another legend. Tavoris Cloud underestimated Campillo and he lost. I mean this is boxing. It happens to a lot of these young fighters. He underestimated Campillo. Campillo is a little skinny looking kid that a couple people underestimated and everybody who underestimated him, Beibut , and all he beat those guys. We ain’t gotta pretend like he didn’t, and we gotta be politically correct and tip toe around it and maybe this round or maybe that round, he beat them guys man. If guys underestimated him he beat those guys. Point blank. And I was actually in camp with Beibut when he was about to fight the kid. And Beibut, I think is a heckuva fighter and a heckuva talent but his whole mentality and his arrogance getting ready for that kid is the reason why he really lost. Because you can’t underestimate anybody in this sport, especially at the championship level. It’s just not possible if they made it there. And here’s why I say you can’t underestimate anyone at the championship level, lets say they made it there through politics, lets just say somebody put them there, I’m gonna get past you in the championships, that’s why you can’t underestimate anybody at the championship level.

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Jenna: The biggest problem fans have with boxing today is that the two biggest promoters GoldenBoy and Top Rank don't like to work with each other. Can you see boxing fans ever getting the fights they want to see if these two boxing conglomerates won't put the best fighters in with each other?

Naazim: I was watching a show with my grandson the other day, and in the show they said “nature will find a way” We were watching Jurassic Park. (Laughs) But boxing will find a way, it will always find a way no matter what these promoters try and do, some kid will jump ship and go somewhere else to fight some kid in a fight that has to be made. Ok, we lost a big one with the Mayweather and Pacquiao fight, that's gone......SO? I never got to see Roberto Duran fight Aaron Pryor, that was my dream match. Boxing will continue, boxing will find new breath, and with all the young kids coming up, were OK. That's how I feel about boxing right now, we're OK.

Special thanks goes out to Michael Carpenter Harris for his hard work to help bring this article to the readers of Doghouseboxing and for his work as a special contributor to "On The Ropes"

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