‘Big Dog’ Prospect Watch: Matt Godfrey: “I am looking to be the next big thing in the cruiserweight division”
By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (August 10, 2005)
The cruiserweight division could always use a spark and the undefeated Matt Godfrey, 8-0 (5), looks to be the ignition switch for his weight class with his brutal knockout power and his ability to outbox his opposition. The twenty-four year old slugger has come on strong since turning pro fourteen months ago and on August 26th he plans to continue his onslaught on the division when he faces Willie Herring, 11-3-3 (2), for the vacant USNBC cruiserweight strap in his hometown of Providence, RI.
Matt began his walk in the ‘sweet science’ at a very young age, learning from Dr. Roland Estrada, the father of the young heavyweight prospect Jason Estrada. In his quest in the amateurs he racked up a superb record of 194-23 earning such accolades that include six national championships, four open tournaments that include the 2004 Everlast U.S. Championships, he banged out a Bronze medal in the 2001 Pan-American games and won the Silver medal in the National Golden Gloves, PAL, U.S Championship and the U.S Challenge, and he was a six-time New England Golden Gloves Champion.
Matt turned pro May of ’04 and since that point has beaten all in his path stopping five of his opponents by KO with three of those KO’s coming in the opening round. Last month Matt stepped in with the former NABO cruiserweight champion Jermell Barnes and banged out his first eight round decision to win the bout unanimously, and he has only just begun.
Looking to make some serious noise in the division Godfrey will face any quality opponent that gets in his way of the sweet prize, the title of the Cruiserweight Champion of the World. The undefeated prospect is somebody to watch so he is eagerly included as one of the Big Dog’s prospect watch. Here is what he had to say, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: First off Matt I just want to say thanks for taking the time out for the Doghouse readers, it is greatly appreciated. What turned you on to the ‘sweet science’?
Matt Godfrey: It was the individuality of the sport, I had my good close friend Jason Estrada who had been boxing since he was six year old and I knew him since we were in first grade. I started with him and he kind of took me under his wing and I have been going at it every since, probably thirteen years now.
BH: You turned pro just over a year ago, what have you learned about the professional boxing scene this past year and how was it adapting from the amateurs to the pros?
MG: Well for me the adaptation to the professionals from the amateurs was a smooth transition for me because my style. In the amateurs you have to go out there and stay busy and you couldn’t take your time but I was the complete opposite I loved to take my time and I loved to pick my opponents apart. Unfortunately that didn’t work for me in the amateurs and I came up short in the Olympic trials, so making that transition to the professionals was like walking on water, I loved it I had no problem doing it. In the amateurs I had a hard time doing four two minute rounds but in the professionals I come in and I am doing eight to ten rounds in the gym sparring without a problem, it was one of the easiest transitions for me. I love the professional game.
BH: You fought your first eight rounder and went the full eight rounds last month when you defeated the former NABO cruiserweight champion Jermell Barnes, how was it going the full eight against a former contender and did you take anything away from the bout that could possibly help you in the future?
MG: You know I took a lot of things with me. I went in with the intentions of going the full eight rounds and the intention that he was going to come at me and make me fight, and that was exactly what happened. I was in there with a seasoned professional and I had to get used to him punching me behind the head and hitting low and hitting me on the break and everything, it is small things like that you got to adapt to and you learn from them. Fortunately I am going to have Jarmell come down to Providence for camp and he is going to give me some sparring time for this next fight so I will be able to learn a lot more form him.
BH: August 26th you will be facing Willie Herring for the vacant USNBC cruiserweight title, what do you know about your opponent and even though this bout isn’t for a world title it for some kind of hardware, so do you have any pressure on you battling it out for this strap?
MG: Most definitely, you have the pressure of fighting in front of your hometown and looking good in front of everybody also, you have the live TV there and there is all kind of things that play into it. I am learning more and more everyday about my opponent and we are taking some of that stuff in the gym and we are working on it. I tell you one thing I don’t want to fight ten rounds, I am in shape for it but I don’t want to do it, if I get the opportunity to end it early I am definitely to take it, I am not going to sit back and ride out the rest of the rounds.
BH: Who were some of your boxing heroes growing up and is there anybody in the sport at this time that you look up too?
MG: Still with out a doubt, this man has made so many mistakes in the ring and was able to get away with them for so long and he is still Superman to me and that is Roy Jones Jr. He’s coming back October 1st to fight Tarver and I am supporting him 100%. He’s one of those guys who made so many mistakes in the ring but he has so much speed he got away with a lot of those things and I admire that a lot. If he losses five more times in a row the same way he still will always be my favorite fighter.
BH: To the ones who may never have seen you fight or know much about you how would you describe your style and your work ethic?
MG: So relaxed and so effortless, I make it look like there is really nothing to it. When I am in there you can’t tell that I am tired, I make everything look effortless when I may even be trying my hardest. Even in my workouts, we train for hours on end and round after round and I just try to relax and as smooth as possible and in the ring it looks the same. Even in my last fight I went eight rounds and beat Barnes and made it look like I won without an effort but I was really feeling the effects of my first eight rounder but I just didn’t let it show.
BH: We all know the cruiserweight division could use some spark, so what match-ups do you feel could help promote and bring in more fans for this weight class?
MG: Well right now there is one dominant champion and the second best guy in the division is still a few years away from beating him because he is so much better than everybody else. I really can’t see a really great fight that people can look up too, if you want to look at me a few years down the road then we can talk about that but right now because Mormeck has been so dominant in the division I don’t anybody right now who’s in line for a title shot even making a close fight with him. A lot of these guys just stop at the cruiserweight division just to get some credentials to move up to the heavyweight division.
BH: Again on the match-ups that would be good for the division, there is another cruiserweight prospect trying to make some noise in this division, Aaron Williams is now 3-0 and if I am correct he has three wins over you in the amateurs. What are your thoughts on a bout against Williams, can you see you two facing off in the near future, maybe get some revenge on the professional level?
MG: Oh yeah that is a fight I would love to take in the near future but only if it going to mean something for me, I’m not going to fight him just to fight him. If he is ahead of me in the rankings or whatever it is going to take to get me to the top spot that’s what I’m going to go after. I don’t look at who’s going to be a great match-up for me I look at who is going to get me to the number one mandatory. If he happens to be on my way there then by all means I will definitely take the fight. We have had three really close fights, three wars to be honest with you, the first one I lost by one point and the second fight I dropped him on his face in the fourth round and lost the close decision and we fought in Vegas where I hit him pillar to post in every round and that’s another story but you know the amateurs is a much different game then the professionals. Like I said if he is in my way on my way up to the number one mandatory then that will definitely be a fight people would love to see.
BH: How has it gone for you being under the tutelage of Peter Manfredo Sr. and what is your work out regime?
MG: I tell you what it is great. Before I turned professional I worked with Dr. Estrada who is obviously the father of Jason Estrada, I worked with him and he was more like a good amateur coach and then changing over to Peter the work ethic was a lot different, there are so many small things that professionals do that amateurs didn’t that we had to work on, so I am still learning everyday. There are a lot of small things that we have been working on and there has been a difference from my first fight until now and it has been only fifteen months since I have been working full time with Peter Manfredo Sr. and you can definitely see a difference.
BH: What do you feel is your greatest quality as a fighter?
MG: My ability to adapt to anybody in front of me, you see some guys get hit with the same punch over and over and can’t adapt to it or change their way up, well inside the ring I am able to adapt to any kind of style that is in front of me because I have seen so many different styles before. I have always been able to adapt.
BH: I know it is a bit premature for this question but do you plan on making a run for a major cruiserweight title or can you see yourself moving up in the near future to where the money is in the heavyweight division?
MG: I hate to throw the same ole cliché at you by taking it one fight at a time but that is how you have to do it. I am just looking forward to August 26th and seeing how everything fairs, I know that I will definitely be successful. I hate to look too far down the road and overlook anybody because anybody can beat anybody on any given day when you put those small gloves on a grown man. Right now I am looking forward to August 26th, I have a strong tough guy coming in coming after me for ten rounds straight and right now that is pretty much what I am focusing my attention on.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say in closing?
MG: Well, I am looking to be the next big thing in the cruiserweight division right now; I am not talking years down the line. I am fighting guys that are ahead of me and I am trying to make it to the number one mandatory and I would love to be fighting for ‘The’ world title with in three years. That kind of progress is what I am looking to make.
I want to thank Bob Trieger once again for his time. You can visit Bob’s website at www.bobtrieger.com. A big shout out goes out to Matt for his time. Matt is trained by Peter Manfredo Sr. and is promoted by Classic Entertainment & Sports and his managerial duties are taken care of by Brett Hallenbeck.
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