Scott LeDoux has become a familiar face to millions of boxing fans throughout North America with his valuable insight and witty sense of humor on ESPN2’s Tuesday Night Fights and Friday Night Fights telecasts. The former Heavyweight contender has made a smooth transition to the broadcast ranks and as a former competitor himself, his experience and knowledge speaks volumes. In January of this year, I conducted an interview with former Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes and after reading what LeDoux perceived as harsh and disparaging remarks made about him he contacted me wishing to address the comments made by Holmes. Scott LeDoux would like to set the record straight and give his side of the story. I felt it was important for me to grant Scott this interview and let him share his thoughts on Larry Holmes, Max Kellerman and the future of boxing on ESPN2. Doghouse Boxing would like to thank Scott LeDoux for being very open and candid and for taking the time from his very busy schedule to speak with us.
Ed Ludwig: How have you been?
Scott LeDoux: Good, I just got back from Phoenix and had a great time down there and got sunburn. I was taking part in a celebrity golf tournament raising money for Muscular Dystrophy.
EL: What have you been up to since we last saw you on television?
SL: I’m still doing ESPN once in awhile and this Friday, March 26th I am going to do some work in the studio. I also started training a fighter and he is a kid from my hometown named Tony Bonsante who knocked out Tony Ayala Jr. last spring. I keep very busy as my wife and I sell real-estate, I also do a lot of public speaking, selling disability insurance and I am a mortgage banker.
EL: How did you and Tony end up getting together?
SL: He came to see me a few months ago about training and working with him. The trainer he was with, a real nice guy whom I’ve known for thirty seven years but Tony felt it was a time for a change. I enjoy doing what I’m doing and I hope to train more fighters. It’s difficult because I want them to train hard and some of them don’t get that part.
EL: Where do you find the time to do everything as you seem busier then most?
SL: It’s all about scheduling. Fighters don’t train seven days a week and when they are not in the gym they have to do road work and I am a strong believer in that. Everyday you should be doing something and I don’t believe in going to the gym all the time because it wears you down. I was a real dedicated trainer and I trained hard and I feel it’s important to work out and not be in the gym all the time. Many fighters get sick of the gym but I never did as I always enjoyed it.
EL: When during your career did you decide it was time to hang up the gloves?
SL: My first wife had been sick for a lot of years with cancer and it was such a struggle with training, being a fighter and staying focused with my wife going through her illness. She eventually passed away so it was better for me to spend my time with her and my children and just do the best I could that way. I could not keep focused on training so it was better for me to get out when I could. When I fought Frank Bruno there was no enthusiasm, after I lost, after almost every fight I lost I cried because I hated losing and after the Bruno fight there was no emotion so that told me I needed to get out.
EL: There has been a lot going at ESPN2 over the last few months and I was wondering what the status of Tuesday Night Fights is and where things stand at the network?
SL: Tuesday Night Fights will be back in the summer but I will not be doing the broadcasts this year because they cut back many shows and with nothing airing from October to January, ESPN has a commitment with Teddy Atlas for the number of shows he has to do. He has a contract and I don’t so it will make it difficult for me but I will do some shows on Tuesday’s and Friday’s in August when Teddy is at the Olympics. I won’t be doing as many shows this year unless I get to do this thing with Friday Night Fights where I’ll be sitting in Max’s chair next week and if that goes well maybe they will offer me to do more of that and I hope they would as I look forward to the opportunity.
EL: What are your thoughts on Max’s departure from the network?
SL: Well I think Max had an agenda of what he wanted to do in television. He really wanted to go somewhere else, do other things and he wanted to make money at it. He had a number in is head for how much he wanted to be paid for doing what he was doing and he had the “Around The Horn” show and he felt he deserved more money then what was given and so he told them what his demands were and I don’t know what they were but ESPN was unwilling to meet that so he went to Fox. In a lot of cases it’s about the money, for me it has never been about the money because I was never in a position to have that kind of leverage to demand more and I never worried about it because I enjoy my job and what I do.
EL: With all the changes at ESPN2 over the last few months including a staff shuffle and a reduction in televised cards is there still a future for the Tuesday and Friday Night Fights series?
SL: Oh yes! They have been the mainstay for ESPN since the beginning and it has been a great venue for them to have boxing and they have great ratings. There have been some changes made in the upper echelon recently that will make a difference. We will get a fresh look and so I’m not against change. Change is good, let’s put it that way. There was criticism of fights not being competitive for a while and now Russell Peltz has been brought on board and he will do a great job of promoting. The new additions to the staff behind the scenes will make for positive changes.
EL: Did you see the Joe Mesi vs. Vassiliy Jirov fight?
SL: Joe Mesi did a nice job of boxing like he did in the previous fight with Monte Barrett but he seems to get tired and I think he is in good shape but he is not used to going the rounds. With the easy victories Joe hasn’t learned his trade and consequently he is not as confident as he should be and he is stressed out and wastes energy from that stress. Fighters who have a lot of experience and a tough going early on don’t waste energy in the later rounds because they are more relaxed in the ring and the issue Joe Mesi has to overcome is that he needs to get more comfortable with the rounds. He trains hard. Physically he trains hard and I have trained with him. The last two fights have been good for him and one thing I have seen is that when Joe goes down he gets off the deck and still wins. Many guys that go down tend to stay down.
EL: Since the retirement of Lennox Lewis how do you see the Heavyweight division as a whole and do the Klitschko brothers have what it takes to shake things up?
SL: The Klitschko’s are not standouts because they both have been on the deck and lost and great fighters don’t lose. That’s what I say. Wladimir won’t have an easy fight against Lamon Brewster as he is a tough and serious guy who comes to fight. David Tua and Hasim Rahman are tough guys and then you have Chris Byrd who can’t break an egg and he could put you to sleep because he’s so dog gone boring. The Heavyweight division is going to have a tough time and I think that until we get a stellar performer out of the Olympics then we don’t have anybody right now that can take over the division. Middleweight and Junior Middleweight are great but when you look at Heavyweight it is tough guys and you got Chris Byrd who is a good boxer. There isn’t anybody that is dominating like Lennox Lewis did for so long. Lennox Lewis to me was a tremendous fighter and what impressed me the most was he got beat and came back to knockout the guys who beat him and you have to give him his due.
EL: A little bit off topic but I want to ask you about your involvement with professional wrestling and the AWA? I have a match on tape with you against Larry Zybysko.
SL: I wrestled Larry Zybysko about a hundred times. We did that all over the country and back in that day, it was regional broadcasts and not a lot of people knew I wrestled every week. That was a financial opportunity and Verne Gagne asked if I was interested in being an enforcer referee and that was my job then it evolved with me being in matches. I wrestled about a hundred fifty to two hundred matches and I had a lot of fun. I truly enjoyed working with guys like Nick Bockwinkel and Sgt. Slaughter.
EL: Back in January I had an interview with a former foe of yours, Larry Holmes. I asked him the following question, “Scott LeDoux has been calling out George Foreman. How come we don’t hear him call you out to avenge his loss?” Larry replies, “Scott LeDoux is a chump! I didn’t try to kill him but he tried to make the fight a racial issue.”
SL: Well first of all, he has not ever gotten over the racist card. He keeps using that and I have never been a racist, ever! I am a Christian man. Jesus took over my life years ago. I have nothing racist in me. That’s his game. Back in 1980 we were fighting for the title, he said to me at a press conference “three of my brothers are married to white girls, how many of your sisters are married to black guys?” What does that have to do with anything Ed? I never said anything racist about him. I have never said one racist thing and if I had you would have heard about it. I have many black friends and I will give you an example, I have a friend of mine who spoke to me in confidence about a year and a half ago and he didn’t know how to respond to his daughter being involved with a black man and he asked me how he was going to deal with it and I told him “would you rather have her involved with a white guy who is mean to her or a black man who is nice and respectful to her?” and he said he never thought about it that way. I said who cares what color he is as long as he makes her happy. My friend has supported them, they have married and have a child and he is tickled to death. I don’t understand Larry’s derogatory remarks. As for me and George talking about fighting each other, George made the statement last June that he was going to come back and fight at age fifty five and I never said anything about fighting Larry because he was busy fighting all those fat guys, Butterbean and chumps like that. So I figured he didn’t want to fight anybody who could fight back. Butterbean was fighting stiffs his whole career. Who’s to say the fight wasn’t fixed if Larry didn’t knock him out. Anyhow, Larry never was in the lane and never challenged George, never challenged me, never said he was going to fight at fifty five and that’s how it all got started with George and I. I went on the air and said “George, when your fifty five I’ll be fifty five and I’m the best fifty five year old out there and you should be fighting me instead of these kids” and that was the statement I made. I made it several times on ESPN and not because I was ignoring Larry Holmes because I would love to fight him again and I would make him fight with thumb less gloves this time which might make it hard for him. He never hurt me once during our fight except when I got a thumb in the eye and a detached retina as a result. He thumbed Leroy Jones, look at the tapes and see how he was messed up and then you will know what I am talking about. I have no anger towards Larry, and he actually came out a week ago on his message board at www.larryholmes.com and said “from time to time when I threw a jab my thumb might have caught somebody”. To me he has mildly admitted using his thumb and it happens. He hasn’t admitted he’s good at it but did say it happens.
EL: When and how did the hostility start between the two of you?
SL: He kept trying to bring me down and put me down, saying things at press conferences in Las Vegas and he kept pushing. All of a sudden it kept getting uglier and I didn’t know what was going on.
EL: I asked Larry the following question, “Are you still training on a regular basis?” and his reply was “My training schedule is always good enough to beat those guys. I don’t have to train to beat Scott LeDoux. He looks like a short, fat butterball which he was when I fought him back in the eighties”.
SL: I think the thing with Larry is he has always been bitter that he wasn’t recognized as the great champion he was and I agree that he was a great champion and there is no question about that. He held the title for seven years, he was good and he did a lot of good things and I have always been impressed with him over the years. There were other guys I rated ahead of him because during his period of time he didn’t beat all the great fighters of the previous era. Unfortunately there was not a lot of talent for him to fight at that time. You look at the era before him there were great fighters and there was a war going on every week. Larry held his own with everybody, boxed, had a great jab, smart fighter and did what he had to do to win.
EL: I know you did not think much of his punching power. Why is that?
SL: As for punching power absolutely not. He was not a puncher. I have said to people, who did Larry Holmes knock out with one punch besides Marvis Frazier? Frazier was not a good fighter but he was a decent amateur. I have always asked that question. Larry stopped guys but it took combinations before they went down. He wasn’t a great puncher but a punishing puncher. Punchers knock guys out with one punch and they stay down and Larry never did that. George Foreman could do it and so could Ken Norton.
EL: If a fight with Foreman or Holmes could be made would you still take it?
SL: I’d fight George and Larry in a heartbeat. It would be a lot of fun for me. I work out with guys all the time. I was in the ring training with Tye Fields and Joe Mesi in the past.
EL: Do you have anything that you would like to say to Larry Holmes?
SL: I wish Larry would give up on the race card that he claims constantly because it really isn’t good for boxing. He plays that race thing all the time and that isn’t part of my vocabulary and he has to move onto other things. I would love to fight Larry. He says find a promoter, well Larry why don’t you find a promoter as you are the former Heavyweight champ? If you are in such hot demand you make the fight. Let’s get it on the under-card of one of these big fights and get the seniors tour started. I think Larry misunderstands my criticism of him. He thinks I lack respect towards him, he was a good champion and had a great run. Not many people can say that they held the title for seven years. For some reason he wants to think he was a great puncher when he wasn’t. The Butterbean fight was a joke and I don’t think Larry trained twenty minutes for that fight. I do wish him best as he has done well and I respect him for that. I also wish Larry would own up to thumbing me in the eye. When you watch the fight you see I took a knee because of my eye and not because he hurt me. I never felt pain like that before. In my life it is god and my family. Ego gets you in trouble and pride keeps you there and when Larry says I’m a racist in an interview it really hurts me.
EL: Scott, I would like to thank you very much for your time and I wish you continued success.
SL: I would like to say boxing is one of the best uncontrolled sports and that is why people love it. People have to understand that in boxing everyone has opinions and are free spirits so we say things we may regret and I have done that too. Larry was good for the game. My wife told me if people don’t respect you now then they will in twenty-five years because it will change when they see what you have accomplished and that’s what Larry has to be thinking. Thank you and god bless!
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