Exclusive interview with heavyweight Moultrie Witherspoon

by James Slater: 34-year-old Columbia, South Carolina heavyweight Moultrie Witherspoon may have left it quite late to turn pro as a boxer - the 6'6" 240-pounder's debut took place in September 2004, at which time Witherspoon had turned 30 - but the once-beaten (on points) prospect is starting to make both progress and a name for himself now. Currently 14-1(8) the chiselled bodied Witherspoon is making up for lost time by fighting extremely regularly also. Moultrie had five fights last year, and plans on having at least that many in 2008..

After an amateur career that saw him win 10 of 12 fights and capture a Golden Gloves title as well as coming second in a PALS tournament, Witherspoon set about making it as a pro. But how did Moultrie first get into boxing in the first place?

" I was, and still am, a big fan of Lennox Lewis," Moultrie told this writer over the telephone. "He was what I call a five dimensional fighter. He basically had it all - speed and power, a fast jab, athleticism and a good boxing brain. To me he is one of the all-time greats. As for myself, I was a basketball player in college at first, and a friend of mine took me to a pro fight and I started thinking about it. I stopped the basketball and put the gloves on. I was 28-years-old."

When asked if he's worried about having started so late, the polite and well-spoken Witherspoon replied in the negative.

"My body is young, so I'm not too worried about my age. I stay in top shape all the time and I have the enthusiasm of a young fighter. I want to stay busy and fight regularly, but at the same time, I'm not going to rush things. I don't worry about my age at all really. I'm not old for a heavyweight at all."

How would Moultrie describe his fighting style?

"I'm a technical fighter. For my size, I am very quick. People have told me, I have a real quick left jab. My right hand is powerful, but I don't go looking for KO's. I'm patient in the ring and look for things. Also, I have good foot speed."

Witherspoon has a solid and impressive physique. How is his training regimen?

"I train six days a week, and I run five times a week. I do callisthenics and I do some bench press work - I bench-press 135 pounds. I don't do too much work with weights, though. I like to chop wood and do things like that - more traditional forms of training. I pretty much always weigh around the same for a fight, 237 to 240 pounds."

Has Witherspoon sparred with any big names thus far?

"I have worked with (fellow prospect) Kevin Johnson. Also Alonzo Butler, and for three weeks I worked with Jean-Francois Bergeron, when he was getting ready for his fight with Nikolay Valuev. All three guys said I was pretty much a natural, especially considering my lack of amateur fights."

The U.S is in much need of an upcoming heavyweight who can reach the top. Is Witherspoon the man to do it?

"I give myself a very good chance. I want to be the undisputed heavyweight champion. I know it's hard, being the undisputed champion, what with all the rival promoters keeping their guys away from other fighters and things. But I feel I can definitely get at least one of the belts off the Russians that are dominating now. I have the size, the speed and the athleticism. I also have the heart to get there."

Who is the very best big man in the world right now, though?

"Without a doubt, Wladimir Klitschko. I can't see anyone beating him for a while. He also has Emanuel Steward training him - Lennox's old trainer. Klitschko brings everything to the table. He is also quite quick for his size. I think he beats [Alexander] Povetkin, without a doubt."

Moultrie had an active year in 2007, does he plan to have as many fights in 2008?

"Absolutely. Hopefully another five or six over the rest of this year. I like to fight regularly, because when you are in shape you are ready for the next guy - to keep improving and learning and getting better and better. You see, to me, the hardest thing about boxing is the gym work, the getting in shape. It's the constant repetition, day after day of running and working out. Your body gets used to it after a time, but to me the actual fight is easier then the getting ready for it. In 12 to 18 months I definitely see myself as either a world champion, or at the very least I will be having an elimination bout for one of the world titles. My goal is to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world."

Article posted on 26.04.2008

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