Longtime heavyweight contender Clifford Etienne has his eyes set back on the top. The 'Black Rhino' will make another run for the division starting with undefeated heavyweight prospect Calvin Brock in January of 2005. A win against Brock would move Etienne up another rung on the heavyweight ladder and prove that the thirty-two year-old native of Louisiana still has the potential to compete in the division. The Black Rhino started his career in 1998 after serving ten years in Dixon Correctional Facility for a conviction of armed robbery he committed at the age of seventeen. The Louisiana Boxing Association would schedule bouts with the boxing prisoners between correctional facilities and Etienne fought to a 30-0 record in the system. After being released from prison Etienne attended Southern University and embarked on a professional career at the age of twenty-eight. From his debut in December of 1998 to nineteen bouts later in March of 2001 the Black Rhino stopped thirteen opponents by kayo and nine of those were in the opening round. In that time he defeated such fighters as Lamon Brewster, Joey Guy and battled it out against Lawrence Clay-Bey to get Ring Magazine's best fight of 2000 award. It seemed the no-nonsense boxer was on his way to the top until he faced then undefeated Fres Oquendo in a bout that would see Etienne taste the canvas a total of seven times before losing in the eighth. Three months after his first defeat Etienne went on a mission by knocking out four of his six opponents until fighting to a hard draw with the 'White Buffalo' Frans Botha. In February of 2003 the Black Rhino would face the 'Baddest man on the Planet’, Mike Tyson. As usual the pre fight antics and hoopla of Tyson played a major part in the media frenzy. The on-again off-again bout finally went down and Etienne was blown away in the first round with an enthusiastic Memphis crowd watching while Tyson bullied his way to another easy victory. Etienne returned a year later defeating club fighters here and there until he fought Talmadge Griffis, 22-4-3, to a UD win. This year alone the Black Rhino has belted out five victories and one draw and is set for a tough match in January 2005. Calvin Brock poses youth and strength but the thirty-two year old veteran believes his experience will prove fatal in the bout. With his sights set back on the top of the division the Black Rhino talks a bit on his past and his future in this exclusive interview with the Doghouse.
Benny Henderson Jr.: Hey Cliff how are you?
Clifford Etienne: I’m cool man, it is cool. I’ll be ready to fight Calvin Brock in the near future. It will be sometime in the end of January or the beginning of February.
BH: What are your thoughts on this match-up against Calvin Brock is this fight that will get you back up to where you want to be?
CE: Yeah, that is another step. I mean he is a good fighter so I will prepare like I always prepare and be ready.
BH: You just filled in for the injured Riddick Bowe this past weekend. Were you prepared for the fight when you got the call to be Bowe’s replacement?
CE: I was prepared.
BH: You stay in shape year around?
CE: I try.
BH: Can you give us your take on the victory over Kenny Craven?
CE: I got the W, I produced the cut, I busted his eye open at the end of the first round and during the second round the doctor said it was bad and stopped it.
BH: Are you still being trained under Buddy McGirt or who else is training you?
CE: You said his name man.
BH: So you are still being trained by McGirt?
CE: He was at the fight.
BH: You started out your career with a winning streak of 19-0 (13). Nine of the kayos were in the first round. You had wins over Lamon Brewster, Joey Guy, Cliff Couser, in which you won titles against both and you had Ring Magazines “Best Fight of 2000” against Lawrence Clay-Bey. Then you stepped in the ring with Fres Oquendo who was unbeaten at that time and you went down seven times en route to an eighth round TKO loss. What happened to the Black Rhino who at that was storming the division before that encounter?
CE: He is right here; you are talking to him right now. Things happen sometime my man you lose everything in life sometime. You lose your Mom, your Daddy your sisters your brothers. You lose friends and other things but the real man keeps on going.
BH: Your past, do you use that as a motivator in life and do you try to guide young adults in a different direction using your self as an example?
CE: I just work hard man, I just work hard. I use myself as motivation.
BH: You’ve had six fights this year, are you keeping yourself busy to try to make a run at the top ten?
CE: Yep, yeah I am. I’m coming.
BH: You had a tremendous bout against Lawrence Clay-Bey in 2000 on the undercard of the Lewis-Tua fight, which I must say yours and Clay-Bey's bout blew that drawn-out bore fest out of the water. He has made a comeback, have you thought about hooking up Clay-Bey again and maybe trying to make another good show for the fans?
CE: I don’t care who I hook up with Benny, as long as I work. I love to work.
BH: You stepped in the ring in Memphis against Mike Tyson in 2003. A lot of Tyson’s fights can be pretty much summed up as a carnival act. What was it like going into this fight as far as the media hoopla and Tyson’s usual pre-fight antics, and did all the surrounding circumstances have any affect on the outcome of the fight?
CE: I really don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it, that is the past. I want to talk about what is going to happen in the future.
BH: I apologize man I was just trying to get some thoughts for the fans.
CE: Ah, it’s cool man.
BH: What do you feel you have left to offer this division?
CE: A lot of guts and nuts.
BH: You stated that you are going to be facing Calvin Brock in the future, is there anybody else in particular that you would like to face? You have one win over WBO champ Lamon Brewster and in 2003 you were ranked #3 in that organization so would you like to make a run for his title and get a rematch with Lamon?
CE: Anybody that has a belt is on my hit list.
BH: How would you define your career to date?
CE: Hmm, ups and downs but all around, way better than average. Real good, I have been blessed man.
BH: What do you feel your best quality is as a fighter?
CE: My will to win.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview as far as the fans and division? If so you have open forum to say what you want to say.
CE: Hmm, I would like to thank the fans and everybody that is with me. I’m coming, everything that you have been wanting me to do, I am about to do it. All the naysayers, come on step up front and go ahead and let me smack you down too. I’m ready to roll baby, I can fight right now.
I would like to thank Thomas Gerbasi for his help with this interview, and I would like to thank Cliff for his time. It was greatly appreciated.
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