ICEMAN EXCLUSIVE TEAM LEFTJAB INTERVIEW: TALKS WARD VS KOVALEV & HOPKINS VS SMITH

TEAMLEFTJAB
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1. What did you think of Manny Pacquiao’s win over Jesse Vargas and do you see a push for Pacquiao-Mayweather 2 in 2017 based on all the comments from Pac,Arum and Floyd attending the fight?
ICE: I thought Pac looked good and showed that if he has fallen off at all it isn’t by very much. He’s still a major player in the game and it would make perfect sense that the parties involved would want to see the rematch. Now, of course, when it comes to really seasoned boxing people, I think they will see a rematch as a money making scheme and nothing more. A win by either guy wont have much of an impact on the division as they will both either retire right after or relatively soon after. I also don’t really see a rematch turning out much different than their first fight did. I mean, if you look at Floyd’s last what? 15 fights? They’ve all pretty much played out exactly the same and I don’t see that changing this time, either.
I personally am not interested in seeing a rematch between them but I’m sure many will be.
2. With Kovalev vs Ward a week and a half away, what are your final thoughts on this fight and does the winner now become the pound for pound king?
ICE: I would have to say the winner of the fight will be seen by most as the rightful pound-for-pound guy now. This is definitely one of the best matchups in recent times, if not one of the best ever. It has all the makings for a scintillating night. When I first heard the match was made my first thought was that Kovalev is too big and strong and possesses too much power to go along with that battering ram jab of his.
After I thought about it for a while, though, I began to remember exactly who and what Andre Ward is in the ring. Skills supercede all in most cases and as skilled as Kovalev is, Andre is a truly skilled technician with a true boxing mind. I believe he will find a way to maneuver and pick his shots and come away with a strong but close decision victory.
3. Vasyl Lomanchenko will be facing Nicholas Walters.Will this be a competitive fight or is Lomanchenko too good at this point for Walters?
ICE: This is another high level fight happening right now. It’s under the radar in the mainstream and that’s a real shame because this is a truly great match! Walters is going to push him, he’s going to threaten him every step of the way, but I just see Lomachenko as being too wily and sharp at this point for him. I won’t be shocked, though, if Loma gets caught with some great shots along the way before he finds his rhythm.
4. Top Rank has finalized Terence Crawford’s next fight which will be against veteran John Molina. Molina is very tough but can be hit and goes to war every fight. Is that a recipe for disaster against a fighter like Crawford who can be aggressive with accuracy?
ICE: I believe Crawford is the real deal in the ring and while this is a tough fight for him I see the matchmaking as favoring him here. The matchmakers job for someone like Crawford is to put him in with someone very solid and reputable but someone who also possesses the style to make his particular style look good and it looks like that’s what they’ve done here. Molina is definitely coming to war and I’m quite sure Crawford appreciates that.
5. A lot of fans were disappointed when they found out Klitschko won’t be facing Anthony Joshua next. Instead, Joshua will be facing Eric Molina. What can Molina do too slow down Joshua who at this point looks like a machine in there and looks very ready to face the biggest names in the heavyweight division?
ICE: Molina is going to have to be at his very best to win this and as a heavyweight anything can happen in there. The deck is stacked high against him, though, so he’s going to need to be mentally ready even more than physically to overcome AJ. As a trainer I have not yet watched these two closely to see how they exactly match up against each other but obviously Molina is going to have to be super aware and sharp with his head movement and his hands up. The table is definitely being set for AJ to step in shortly into 2017 with an elite heavyweight name.
6. Staying in the heavyweight division, Shannon Briggs gets the big shot he has been campaigning for years to get and it comes against Lucas Browne. First, do you believe Briggs deserves this shot at the WBC title and does he stand a chance against Browne who at least has wins against Chagaev and Rudenko in the last 2 years.
ICE: To say he deserves the shot, in terms of the way the sport is structured and supposed to be run, no, probably not. But he talked himself into it. Marketing genius. And if he pulls it off he will have set the bar high for all those guys with marketing schemes and Internet access. You’ve got to hand it to Shannon, by any means necessary he got the fight. He stayed with a genius plan and it worked. And the crazy thing is that I believe on the right night he can definitely win it. I quite sure after all this talking and Internet videos, he doesn’t want to go out there and make a complete fool of himself when it really counts. Shannon is older now but he obviously is putting the work in now and he can fight. We can’t forget that. Shannon is a very skilled guy when he’s on his game. I don’t know if he should necessarily be favored right now, all things considered, but I wouldn’t make the mistake of counting him entirely out, either!
7. IBF Super Welterweight Champ Jermall Charlo finally faces mandatory challenger Julian Williams. Do you think this will be Williams coming out party or does Charlo get another solid win as he moves onto bigger fights?
ICEMAN: I like the fight a lot. Two young and hungry guys with skills. Charlo is a hot kid right now but I like Julian and I think he has a very solid and diligent boxing guy in his corner in Stephen “Bread” Edwards who is always really on his game as a trainer in preparing Julian for his fights. If I were to bet on the fight, if I had to choose, I would probably go for Charlo at the end of it in a good one. But I wont bet because it’s that kind of fight where the underdog is just way too live.
8. Bernard Hopkins returns for one more fight in December which will be against Joe Smith Jr. How much do you feel Hopkins two year layoff, along with his age will hurt him in this fight and do you think Smith was a dangerous opponent for Hopkins to chose after such a layoff?
ICE: I must give B-Hop all the credit in the world for taking this fight at this point in his life. Joe is a very strong puncher, a kid with nothing to lose. He also appears to have a  deep mean streak in him. If he doesn’t get stage fright I think he will be in it to win it right from first bell to the last.
As far as Bernard goes, I’d have to believe that he has chosen to stay with his years long dedication to clean living, lots of sleep, dedication to his craft. It would shock me if he wasn’t finely tuned on fight night like always.
As far as the fight goes, it’s a tough one to call because regardless of stellar conditioning, 52 is still 52. I’ll say this much, the intensity and motivation for both guys is going to be super high on fight and it absolutely would not surprise me at all to see Bernard put on a scintillating showing and go out a superhero.
However, all things considered, it also wouldn’t shock me if Joe catches him with some big and sharp power shots and mentally slows him down into a safe-mode where he maybe sort of abandons an all out plan to win by any means. I think this fight will be determined more by which B-Hop shows up on fight night than which Joe shows up.
9. Many people felt PBC was in trouble with reduced shows and fighters inactive for the second half of 201. But with the recent announcement of numerous big cards going into 2017, are they back on track at least for the short term?
ICE: I believe they are. I don’t know the inner-workings of their business but they’ve done a lot of shows, gotten great exposure for some great young fighters and it would be a literal shame if this trend were to stop. Them failing would be a huge blow to boxing, I believe. I mean, if boxing can’t sustain these type shows for more than a few years when network TV went strong all through the entire 70’s and 80’s then something is wrong here. I’ve been to several PBC shows in different states and every last one of them was a high quality event, in the ring and out.

Quote: “The wait in the dressing room before a professional boxing match -that last hour- could be enough to strip a man who never boxed before of whatever pride, desire and heart he THOUGHT he had”Iceman John Scully, April 2002

 

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