Exclusive Interview With Ronnie Shields on His Departure From Juan Diaz's Camp

15.08.07 - By John Martinez - - Moments ago, I spoke with renowned trainer Ronnie Shields about an news flash that was published on by Karl Freitag. The news brief referenced Shield’s decision to work the corner of the only four-time heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield for his fight against WBO heavyweight belt holder Sultan Ibragimov instead of being present when WBA/WBO lightweight champion Juan Diaz battles IBF titlist Julio Diaz on October 13 in their unification bout. He gave a very honest assessment of what went into his decision to work Holyfield’s corner and how the situation came about.

JM: Ronnie talk about reports that have surfaced regarding your future with Juan Diaz?

RS: Yes. The reports are true. I was approached by Juan’s manager, Willie Savannah and he told me that I had to make a choice, train Evander or train Juan. Just like that.

JM: How do you feel about your decision now that it’s done?

RM: Well you know I want to be apart of history. Evander is the only guy that has one the heavyweight title four times and now he’s going for his fifth. And as a trainer, I can’t pass up being apart of history and of course, the money is going to be good.

You know, I don’t depend on anybody to look after me. I look after myself and this was the best situation that I could be in financially not necessarily for me, but also for my family. I should’ve never been put in this position in the first place to make this decision.

I could’ve continued training Juan up until I was leaving for Russia and that’s only for seven to ten days anyway. I could’ve formulated the plan and had my assistants finish the training because that’s why we have assistants anyway to take over when the supposed main guy isn’t there, you know? But I was told that I had to pick Juan or Evander and there was no negotiations or any other choices so that was it.

JM: Have you spoken to Juan about this issue?

RS: No.

JM: You haven’t had any conversations with Juan concerning this topic?

RS: Well when Savannah approached me with this in the first place, I asked him if I could talk to Evander and I told him that I’d like to talk to Juan first and he told me “no” that he’d talk to Juan. So, he told me that I had to make my decision right then and there and I did and all of this happened about a week and a half ago.

JM: Let’s switch gears for a moment and size up Evander’s challenge against Ibragimov. What are your thoughts on the challenge ahead?

RS: Well we’re going over there to win the heavyweight title and they can overlook us if they want but if they do they’re gonna get knocked out early. Everybody keeps saying that Evander’s over, but the old man keeps ticking and keeps winning. He’s been working real hard and I’ll tell you that they (Sultan’s camp) made a mistake and should’ve fought Evander two or three fights ago.

Evander is ready and he’s coming to fight. With every fight, Holyfield is getting better and better and better. It’s to bad for them (Sultan camp) that their gonna get a real good Evander Holyfield because with every fight, he keeps improving and keeps showing what he can do and if Evander wins, then he’s probably gonna get a mega fight with probably Klitschko.

We aren’t looking past this next fight. We take every fight one fight at a time, but what we’re saying is people keep hollering about him being old, but he’s saying “ you need to take a look at me” because he is really good and he can contend with anybody in the heavyweight division no matter who it is.

JM: Final thoughts on the Diaz matter?

RS: There aren’t any hard feelings. I ‘m sure they’re happy with the decision that they made and I wish them well in the future. And I’m sure that they wish me the same. Boxing is a business and they made a business decision to do what they did so I had to what I had to do.

I’d like to thank Ronnie for his time and his openness during this interview. He’s always been a class act and ambassador for this sport. In part two of my interview with Ronnie, he weighs in on Rocky Juarez’s fight with WBC super featherweight champion, Juan Manuel Marquez.

Article posted on 15.08.2007

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