Interview with Heavyweight Newcomer Taz Titan
By Benny Henderson Jr. (July 25, 2004)
On June 17, 2004, the fans at Michael's Eighth Avenue Club in Glen Burnie, MD get ready to witness the 6'9" 253lb. giant of a man Taz Titan climb in the ring for his pro debut. Taz pounds his opponent Dan Whetzel into a bloody mess. By the end of round one the ring doctor has seen enough. Taz comes out victorious in his pro debut with a spectacular win. Tasos Panayiotou, known to the boxing community as Taz Titan from Thessalonic, Greece, now resides in the United States and fights out of Atlantic City, NJ. With an amateur record of 108-12 (87), Titan won fifteen medals in international amateur tournaments; all but five were gold. He was the Greek National Champion for nine years, so he has adjusted well with turning pro. His manager Gina Lacovou stated that his jab can remind you of heavyweight great Larry Holmes, but don't be mistaken, Taz is his own fighter with his own style. Titan's advisor Mike Michael - former advisor of Lennox Lewis - says that Taz has the heart of a champion. So with his sites set on the top, Taz sets out to make his mark on the heavyweight division. Taz Titan, Gina Lacovou, and Mike Michael stopped by the Doghouse to talk about Taz and what the future holds for him.
Benny Henderson Jr.: How excited are you to be fighting in the United States?
Taz Titan: I am of course very excited to be fighting in the United States. All of the big fights are here, all of the big fighters are here. Now I am here too.
BH: What were your feelings going into your pro debut? And how did it feel to win it?
TT: I was excited. I wanted very much to win and to look good, because TV was there as well. To win it felt very good. Now I can keep fighting and keep winning.
BH: How long have you been boxing? And what inspired you to want to lace up the gloves?
TT: I have been boxing since I was a small child, before the age of 13. I wanted to learn how to defend myself, and as I got older and kept boxing, I started to want more and more to become a champion.
BH: As a child, who were your boxing heroes?
TT: Always Ali. Ever since I was very young, I always watched the tapes of Ali and wanted to be like him. He was my hero.
BH: Has it been hard for you to adapt from the amateurs to professional?
TT: It hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be. I'm working with Bill Johnson to sit down on my punches and use my power, because when you are a professional you must fight for the knockout. But it's been going very well.
BH: It is down the road before you get the chance to fight a big named fighter. But out of all the top heavyweights in the division, who would you most like to step in the ring with? And for what reason?
TT: Well, of course Klitschko, because he is the champ right now. But there is Tyson, Toney, many fighters in the division. I will be ready soon for a title, and then we will see who will be ready to fight me.
BH: You had an impressive KO rate in the amateurs. Do you feel that you will continue to dominate in the same fashion with the pros?
TT: Of course. My power is getting stronger every day in the gym. When I hit them, they will go down. Then, if they want to get back up, I'll send them back down again.
BH: What would you like to say to the boxing fans? And what would you like to say to the guy's in the heavyweight division?
TT: I would like to thank all the fans who cheered for me in Baltimore, and especially the Greek people who have supported me and helped me. To the heavyweights, I will say to watch out. One by one, they will have to step in the ring with me, and one by one, I will knock them out.
Questions for Gina Lacovou & Mike Michael
BH: You said that Taz's jab reminds you of Larry Holmes jab. What about his power, speed, skill, charisma? Does that remind you of any fighters?
Gina Lacovou: Taz is his own fighter, but the way he fights makes you think of the great heavyweights of the past that could use their height and their jab. Holmes, Sonny Liston, fighters like that. His personality is 100% unique. All I can say is that once the boxing fans get to know him, they will love him.
BH: What other fighters do you manage through Cestus Management?
Gina Lacovou: We also have 'Mighty' Mike Arnaoutis, who's been fighting between 135 and 140. He's undefeated at 10-0 right now, very fast and very sharp, also an outstanding amateur, and we're expecting a big fight for him in the near future.
BH: What expectations do you have for Taz?
Gina Lacovou: For Taz Titan, I expect nothing short of the world. I truly believe that he'll be the next great heavyweight champion.
BH: You worked with Lennox Lewis how many years? And do you see any comparison between the two fighters?
Mike Michael: I don't want to speak too much about Lennox, because Taz is his own man and doesn't need to trade on anyone else's name. I will say that Taz, like Lennox, has the heart and fire of a champion.
BH: When will Taz be in the ring next? And who will be his opponent?
Mike Michael: Right now we're still working on a date and opponent, but it will definitely be within the next several months. As soon as we know, the fans will know, you can be assured of that.
BH: How fast do you plan on moving Taz throughout the division?
Mike Michael: We'll move Taz as fast as he's capable of moving, which from what we've seen so far is very fast indeed. We have big plans for Taz over the next six months. In less than a year, everyone in boxing will know the name of Taz Titan.
TALE of the TAPE
Name: Taz Titan
Weight: 253 lbs.
Reach: 84 inches
Total Fights: 120
Wins by KO/TKO: 87
Greek National Titles
1994-1995 National Champion Under 16 Class
1996 National Champion Under 18 Class
1997-2003 National Champion "A" Class
1996-Silver Medal Greece -vs- Hungry
1997-Gold Medal Greece -vs- Lithuania
Gold Medal Multi-Nations Tournament
1998-Gold Medal Greece -vs- Romania
1999-Gold Medal Greece -vs- Cyprus
2000-Gold Medal Greece -vs- Albania
Gold Medal Multi-Nations Tournament
2001-Gold Medal Acropolis Cup
2002-Bronze Medal Acropolis Cup
Gold Medal Alexandria Multi-Nations Tournament
2003-Bronze Medal European Championships
Silver Medal Acropolis Cup
Silver Medal Tsehia Open Tournament
2004-Gold Medal Greece -vs- Belarus
Gold Medal Greece -vs- Albania
I would like to thank Damien K. Picariello for all the great help. I would also like to thank Gina Lacovou, Mike Michael and especially Taz Titan for the time to speak to DoghouseBoxing.com. Taz Titan is managed by Cestus Management.
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