Champion in Defeat: Interview with Jameel McCline Part 3
Interview by Benny Henderson Jr. (November 23, 2004) Part I - Part II )  
Photo © Marty Rosengarten/
When heavyweight contender Jameel 'Big Time' McCline stepped in the ring against the International Boxing Federation's heavyweight champion Chris Byrd, he stepped in with the intention of leaving the ring as the new IBF heavyweight champ. Twelve rounds later, after a knockdown and an all-out slugfest, the official scores of 112-115, 113-114 and 114-112 were announced to give the champion the victory by spilt decision. Even though 'Big Time' left the ring without the championship belt wrapped around his waist, he showed that he has a champion's heart. The 6’6” McCline pounded his 6’0” opponent in the opening rounds and proved that his fifty-six pound weight advantage would give him the ability to push around his smaller opponent to the ropes. It was while he had Byrd backed up on the ropes that he caught the defending champion with a right hand in the second round to drop him to the canvas in. Byrd, however, beat the count and they battled on. McCline showed true heart as the fight continued and Byrd showed why he is the champion by getting into the later rounds to seal the victory and keep his title. The Byrd-McCline clash was easily the fight of the night on Don King's huge card Madison Square Garden card and the crowd in attendance and watching live on per-per-view enjoyed the contest immensely.

All and all it was a hell of a fight and proved to be a topnotch match-up, proving to the boxing world that Jameel McCline is only getting started. In the last installment of this three-part interview, Jameel McCline gives his thoughts on his bout against Byrd and talks about what the future holds.

Photo © Marty Rosengarten/
Benny Henderson Jr.: How are you Jameel?

Jameel McCline:
I’m very good. I’m doing very good Benny. I fought a very tough fight and I feel good about it.

BH: What are your thoughts on your bout last weekend with Chris Byrd?

My thoughts on the fight are that I feel that I’m definitely a better fighter than Chris; I can beat Chris Byrd or the likes of a Chris Byrd. He came out victorious because I wasn’t perfect and dialing myself in, my technique fell apart towards the end there. I discovered it was a little tougher to carry around 270lbs. than it was to carry around 214lbs.

BH: Was it as frustrating as you anticipated it be trying to catch Byrd?

Not it wasn’t, the very little frustration that I did experience didn’t come until late when my technique fell apart.

Photo © Marty Rosengarten/
BH: With your technique falling was it due to fatigue or can you explain?

Well I wasn’t over trained, that is for sure. I came into this in great shape, I just expended a lot of energy the first few rounds.

BH: In the second installment of your interview with Doghouse you said that you felt the Byrd fight was a do-or-die situation for yourself. Where do you go from here?

JM: Well you know what, I felt that it was but I fought an awesome fight and now my views are different. I feel very good about where I am in the game. I felt that I definitely let the world know that I am a top legitimate contender.

BH: In the second round you caught Chris with an excellent right hand that sent Byrd to the canvas, at that point did you feel that you had him?

JM: I thought it would be over very shortly after the knockdown but he showed why he is a true champion. He showed why he is the champion, he was able to hold through it. I watched the tape the other night and I put some big shots on him and he stood up to them. The credit is due to him right now.

BH: With the second round knock down and through out the rest of the bout do you feel you did enough to take the belt home, and if not, what do you feel you should have differently?

JM: Well listen, this is the deal. I watched the fight and I was very objective about it. I won rounds one through five and ten. And with the knockdown I should have gotten the point but I lost by the point. It is what it is. Yes I have loved to come home with the title but I don’t feel bad about where I am right now. I felt that I definitely without a doubt showed the world that I am the best contender in the world right now. I am the best contender in the world to anyone’s title at this point right now and I think they all know it, and in fact I know they all do. And that is all that really matters to me.

Photo © Marty Rosengarten/
BH: Now looking at this and you feel that you are a legitimate contender - which I feel that you are too - but is there anybody you want to fight now, do you want a rematch? Surely all this is running through your mind.

JM: I tell you what, this would be a great rematch once I have a title. Because we put on such a great show so once I go out and get a title and I am sure Chris will keep his, especially if he fights the way he did the other night. I am sure he will hold on to his because there isn’t that much out there better than me and then it would be a great time for a rematch with him and I. Right now I'm looking to fight anybody with a title. This is the deal, I put the world on notice the other night that I’m willing to fight any titleholder in the world. And if that doesn’t work than I am willing to fight any other top contender in the world.

BH: Ok, I want to know what Don King said to you before the fight. When you climbed into the ring Don said something to you and you either just laughed or laughed at him, so what was it?

JM: He said to me “You know I didn’t take that fifteen thousand from you, you know I wasn’t going too.” That is what he said.

BH: What was that all about?

I was blowing off press conferences so they were fining me fifteen thousand for every one I didn’t show up too. All the pre-fight hoopla I only went to one of them. And that was because they were fining me so I figured I would stop the bleeding and I went to the final press conference.

BH: You and Chris, who is your close friend, both stated that this was just business in the ring, what were your feelings as you were knocking each other around, and right after the decision what were your thoughts on Chris?

JM: To answer the first part of your question I didn’t think anything, like I said I tried to stress that before the fight that this is just business and that’s all it was, it's just business. We understand where we are going with this and we understand where we went with this thing. I want very much what he has and I had a shot to go get it and it didn’t work out for me, but that is what this is all about. All I thought about was going getting that done. The second part of your question, I really didn’t have any immediate thoughts, nothing has changed, we are still friends and everything like that is still cool. But once I had a chance to go back and watch the tape and have had some time to think about the fight which has been every second of every moment of every day since. Listen, he is a good fighter, he stood up to a barrage and if my technique wouldn’t have fallen apart I would have won. That is part of being a champion and making sure this doesn’t happen on fight night.

BH: Is there a time line on when you would like to fight again?

I am fighting with in four months, I want to stay active it is very important that I stay active. We are so close and we have a great team and I’m a great fighter and I think the busier I stay the better I will be.

BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview Jameel?

I just want it to be known that I am willing to fight any titleholder out there and they all know that. But it will never happen with Don King, so I guess the obvious name is Vitali Klitschko if he doesn’t to unify against one of the other champions. I would love to fight but other than that I would like the other contenders to know that if they feel like they can come test these skills let’s bring it on.

First of all I would like to give a very special thank you to Tina McCline for all her help on these interviews. Your effort is greatly appreciated. To Jameel, I appreciate all of your time and honesty. You took the time out for the fans during your training for the fight of your career and for that we thank you. For more info on 'Big Time' you are invited to visit his website: Official Web Site Of: Jameel McCline.
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