|Jameel McCline: "I'm going to give Valuev everything I've got!"
By Benny Henderson Jr - A.K.A "Big Dog" (Jan 8, 2007)
January 20th at the St. Jakob-Halle, Basel, Switzerland two colossal sized heavyweights will collide when the undefeated 7’0” 320-pound reigning WBA heavyweight champion Nikolay Valuev 45-0 (33) defends his strap against the 6’6” 270-pound #14 WBA contender Jameel McCline 38-6-3 (23) in a scheduled twelve round heavyweight clash.
If the old adage is correct and the third time is a charm then McCline should get his due come fight night when he takes his third stab at becoming a heavyweight champion. The eleven year veteran began his career traveling on a downhill slope going 2-2-1 in his first five bouts, but after prioritizing the rejuvenated Harlem-born heavyweight banged out twenty-six
victories defeating the likes of Michael Grant, Lance Whitaker and Shannon Briggs along way before falling to defeat battling for the WBO strap against Wladimir Klitschko in December of 2002.
McCline picked back up stopping his next three opponents before dropping a razor-thin loss for the IBF heavyweight strap against good friend and then IBF heavyweight champion Chris Byrd in November of ’04. After dropping another L to his former sparring partner Calvin Brock, McCline was shocked by tough journeyman Zuri Lawrence in October of ’05. And then and there a transformation happened for the dejected heavyweight. With the losses weighing on his mind and his career in shambles McCline changed something in his arsenal, his attitude and outlook on his career. And in his comeback which was just a month after his shocker against Lawrence a newly found man in McCline stepped in the ring stopping Andy Sample stopping the ‘Sandman’ in the opening round, and since then has tallied up six consecutive victories, including wins over Rob Calloway and just recently Arkansas native Terry Smith this past summer. And now he gets his third shot and a title and this time he declares that he is laying it all on the line.
His opponent is the undefeated big man Nikolay Valuev, ‘The Beast from the East’ who has defeated all in his pathway to the WBA heavyweight crown, which he won from John Ruiz on a disputed majority decision December of ’05. The Russian has stopped Owen Beck, Clifford Etienne and most recently Monte Barrett on HBO this past October, now the two tall heavyweights square off.
Will McCline find victory and hand Valuev his first defeat? Read on to see what the American heavyweight had to say on his upcoming match-up, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: Well, first off I would like to congratulate you on your upcoming heavyweight title fight, it’s been a long ride hasn’t my brother?
Jameel McCline: Yeah man it has, you were there at the beginning of it right there in Fort Smith, you were definitely there at the beginning at the comeback.
BH: You told me a year back it was a dawning of a new day.
JM: The dawning of a new day man, right after that Lawrence fight.
BH: Well what changes have you made in, well I guess what we are calling a comeback, but what changes have been made to secure a more successful career?
JM: The main change that is obvious is that I have more of a professional approach in my attitude toward how to get things done.
BH: What are your thoughts on your heavyweight championship clash against Nikolay Valuev?
JM: Well I think it is going to be an epic battle.
BH: You know, most American fight fans didn’t get to see much of the big guy until he fought Barrett. I imagine you have tape on Valuev, when you first saw this guy fight what was your initial reaction, and what do you see as his greatest strengths that may cause you some problems and what weaknesses you see you can capitalize on?
JM: You know honestly I had no reaction yah or nah, the only reaction I had was that he was big; I had no reaction as far as his skill. I wasn’t impressed with anything and I wasn’t unimpressed with anything. But now that I am watching tapes I see that he is a disciplined man in his game plan. I take nothing away from him, he is still seven foot with a good jab. We know jabs can win fights so I take nothing away from him; he definitely has some tools to be the champion that he already is now.
BH: What do you see as his weaknesses?
JM: Listen, this is all I have left and that is it, I am going to go do my job and his weaknesses well, nothing is stopping me from winning this fight, nothing. I don’t think he is fast enough to beat me, I think he is to mechanical I think he is to slow, he is very disciplined in his game plan and I think I will force myself to be as disciplined in my game plan, thus giving me the win.
BH: What are your thoughts on traveling to Switzerland?
JM: I don’t really care, nothing is stopping me, I know what you are getting at. I hear it is really tough over there but I don’t care, I just don’t care, I am going for this one, I am going with it with everything I’ve got and I have got a lot.
BH: What has been the drive that has kept you going these past few years?
JM: I just would hate to look back when I am forty years old and now that I am thirty-six I am only four years away from that and say should of, could of, would of, that frightens me more than anything.
BH: You’re a big guy at 6’6” so you mainly have had to look down on your opponents. But what about Valuev at 7’0”, it has to be a change for you?
JM: It’s definitely not an easy task, but I will make it easy through discipline and training, I will make it easy through repetition and through desire and passion. I will get in there and make this fight easy for me.
BH: You know a lot of time you and I have touched on your thoughts on the ones who have counted you out, well, I don’t want to touch on that I want to know your thoughts on the ones that have stood beside you: the family, friends and fans that have stood with you. What would you stay to the ones that have stood beside you and to continue to support Jameel McCline?
JM: I am just so thankful and so pleased at some of the people that has been around me that has been there, even though I had three losses in one year they stood right there with me saying you are going to be fine just stay focused get it together and everything will be fine, I honestly thank them for that.
BH: If you could send out any message to your opponent Nikolay Valuev what would it be?
JM: I don’t think there is much to say, I think he knows that I am coming, I think he knows this is it for me, I think he knows that I am pretty much at the end of my career so there really isn’t much to say. I think he knows that whatever I have left is what I am bringing.
BH: If you could label this fight what would it be?
BH: Anything in closing?
JM: I am just really happy to be here, I just thank our Father God for giving me this chance and opportunity and allow me to stay focused this past year and allowing me to stay disciplined this past year and allowing me to have the great team that I have had, all the way from my front office down to the underground trainers. I just thank God for everything and for this opportunity because I will make the most of it. When I come home with the heavyweight championship of the world I would have proven not to the people because this is really for me, I have what it takes because I am tired of coming out on the short end of the stick. I am going to give this one everything I’ve got.
I’d like to thank Tina McCline for setting up this interview, and a thanks goes out to Jameel for his time and thoughts.
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