Q & A: Matt 'Sharpshooter' Remillard
By Anthony Tibbs - Connecticut featherweight prospect Matt "Sharp Shooter" Remillard is a 16-0 (8 KO's) up and comer with an extremely bright looking future as well as a pretty impressive past. Boxing out of the Manchester PAL in Manchester, Connecticut (ten minutes east of Hartford), the 22 year old is an articulate, hard working and driven young man who is armed with trainers, a manager, a promoter, and a growing fan base who are all expecting big things from him in 2009.. Somewhat unknown as 2008 comes to a close, the current USNBC Featherweight Champion, modest but confident, expects to be a force to be recognized with this time next year.
Article posted on 15.12.2008
Never heard of the kid? Never seen him box yet? Don't know about him? But you're curious? No problem boxing fans. Let me introduce you to Matt "The Sharpshooter" Remillard by way of a special ten question look at a possible future STAR in the boxing game!
Hello, Matt and thanks for being here and taking the time to do an interview for all of the boxing fans out there. For those fans who may not be familiar with you yet, tell us about your career thus far. How did you get started in the boxing game? Where do you have plans to go in the boxing world?
Matt Remillard: I started doing community service at the Manchester P.A.L to help stay out of trouble when I was thirteen years old. I had been getting into trouble hanging out with the wrong kids and fighting a lot in the street and in school. I went down to the local boxing gym and started cleaning the spit buckets, bathrooms, windows, the whole nine. Paul Cichon, my head coach, wouldn't let me start boxing until I raised my grades and started staying out of trouble and proving I wanted to take boxing seriously. I finally asked him if I could please box and haven't left the gym since. The gym is definitely my second home. I I fought all over the United States in just about every national tournament and traveled to Korea and England with the USA boxing team, which was a great experience. I had pretty close to 160 amateurs bouts.
I turned professional and am currently 16-0 with 8 KO's and hold the WBC Youth Featherweight Title and WBC USNBC featherweight title. Boxing is my life and I have dedicated a hundred percent of my time to it. I figure if I am going to do this as a living, I have to do it right with little room for error. Sometimes you only get one chance to be a world champion.
I read a press release from Bob Treiger once that stated that you once sparred out in Los Angeles with Manny Pacquiao . Especially now, seeing as how he tallied that amazing victory over Oscar on Saturday, what does it mean to you to have shared the ring with such a superstar?? How do you feel the session went with him?
Matt Remillard: Sharing the ring with Manny Pacquiao was an experience of a lifetime. I had looked up to him for years and followed his career and to be in the same ring with him helping him prepare for a fight was surreal. I feel the session went very well. It was clear he wasn't going a hundred percent but I feel the sessions went great for both of us. I was there to help him prepare and I think I did my job. He taught me so much in such a small amount of time. I hope to get the honor to work with him again.
Most trainers and boxing pundits seem to feel that high quality sparring is imperative for young boxers to grow and develop as well rounded pugilists. Other than the great "Pacman" what other recognizable boxers have you met up with in the sparring ring (and what, if anything, did you learn from them)??
Matt Remillard: I feel that at some point in a boxer's career it is important to have high quality sparring but to also make sure it doesn't burn the fighters out so they leave everything in the gym instead of fresh for a fight. Other than Pacman I have sparred with Isreal Vasquez, Jose Antonio Rivera, Mike Oliver, Isreal "Pito" Cardona, Peter Manfredo Jr., "Iceman" John Scully, Jason Litzau, and Robert Guerrero to name a few. All of these great fighters humbled me and improved me as an overall boxer. I am more relaxed and confident in each fight knowing that I have shared the ring with these high class boxers.
Your head trainer is Paul Cichon and your assistant is considered to be one of the brightest up and coming trainers in the game today, the "Iceman" John Scully. Can you tell us what it means to you to have a John Scully in the corner with you on fight night?
Matt Remillard: John Scully plays an important part in my career and helps me out with some of the aspects in the professional game. He teaches me everything he learned while boxing and some of the mistakes and how he learned from them. He knows exactly how I am feeling before and during the fight because he once was in the very position I am when I step into the ring. Its nice to have that kind of support when your boxing, makes you feel safe every time you return to the corner. Scully knows how to get into my head and at fight night we just click and feed off each other. There was this one fight against Alexis Rubin, a fighter with an 0-3 record who outweighed me by close to ten pounds. I got caught in the first round with a wild right hand that had stunned me for a few seconds. When I went back to the corner he yelled at me, "put your hands up, you're a brick wall, you can't be hurt, walk him down." The intensity in the corner that round was something you wouldn't forget if you were there. I went out there and knocked him out in the next round.
Several observers have noticed that, especially in your most recent win over Mauricio Pastrana, you seem to have adapted more of a hands up high style with a strong jab that somewhat mirrors the style of that of your corner man , John Scully. Is that something you have specifically worked on or has that style just rubbed off on you naturally?
Matt Remillard: John taught me the importance of the jab early in my professional career which is something that has stuck with me ever since. He taught me different techniques of the jab and how it can win you the fight easily, which it showed in the Mauricio Pastrana fight. As for the hands high defense, I actually watched a lot of tapes of Marling Starling and learned a lot about defense. His high hands and defensive techniques were close to perfect. Each day I just tried to mimic his high hands and actually had the honor to work with him a little bit in my gym on defense and light sparring.
I assume John originally got his high guard from influence of Marlon Starling, too. John always tells me no matter how tired I get or whatever happens in the ring to make sure my guard is high and not to get caught with anything reckless. Those gloves are very small and the padding in your gloves is the only thing you have to guard you and so I take that into consideration each fight. Sparring with John Scully has helped me out a lot, too, because I always try and mimic the tricks he uses on me when I spar with other boxers. I like to think the high hands with a strong jab is one of my best weapons in the ring amongst many others.
John also teaches me little tricks on in-fighting. Different angles and how they open up an opponent to be pulled into different punches. It's always the punches that you don't see coming that will hurt you the most. He teaches me how to set my opponent up in certain traps for later in the fight when my opponent is more relaxed or fatigue. After he teaches me these tricks, I practice them in the gym endlessly with my coach Paul Cichon.
You are now 16-0 in your still relatively young career. Of your sixteen opponents who do you feel gave you the toughest time and why? And also, looking to the future, do you have an eye on any bigger names in particular in your division that you hope to fight?
Matt Remillard: I feel that out of my sixteen fights I think that Leo Martinez gave me the toughest time because it was my first time on ESPN2 and I had let my nerves get to me. He was very experienced fighter who came to win. He taught me a lot and how to deal with a rugged type of fighter. Leo would use his head and elbows to work inside, tie you up , then rough you up on the inside. After that fight I spent many hours perfecting the problems that happened during the fight. After reviewing the fight and seeing my mistakes on television I clearly saw my mistakes. Leo definitely made me a better professional.
Other than boxers in your own weight class, who -if anyone- do you like to watch in the game today? Who is your favorite boxer right now?
Matt Remillard: I used to love watching Diego Corrales fight, he was a true warrior in the sport and one of my favorite boxers. I find myself watching the lower weight classes because of the punch output and fight intensity. Fighters like Floyd Mayweather, Isreal Vasquez, Manny Paquiao, Andre Berto, Miguel Cotto, and the Marquez brothers to name a few. My favorite boxer right now would have to be Pound for Pound King Manny Paquiao. He is at his peak right now and I don't see anyone stopping him from accomplishing his goals right now. Not only is he a great fighter but he is a role model for his people and a great person.
Of course you have high hopes for yourself in the future and will surely have many more years in the sport. But at this moment,at 22 years of age, what would you say has been the highlight of your career thus far? Either as a pro or as an amateur boxer, what has been your most memorable moment to date?
Matt Remillard: The highlight of my career thus far would have to be winning my first professional title in front of my home town. I won the WBC Youth Super Featherweight Title and suffered adversity in the second round when I injured my left wrist. I had to dig down deep and finish the fight. I won some national titles in the amateurs but always failed to win the bigger tournaments because my style was more suited for the pros and when I won the youth title it was such an honor because I had worked my whole life for something like that. Fighting in my hometown and in front of my family and friends was just icing on the cake.
You are promoted by Providence, Rhode Island's Jimmy Birchfield and his CES Promotions and you are a stablemate of men such as Peter Manfredo Jr, Matthew Godfrey, Aaron Williams, Joey "K.O. Kid" Spina and Gary "Tiger" Balleto. How did this alliance come to being, how is it going for you so far, and what (if anything) does it mean to you to be part of a group that boasts some pretty recognizable names?
Matt Remillard: When I came out of the amateurs and was looking to turn professional Jimmy Birchfield was ready and willing to welcome me onto his team. He is definitley one of the hardest working promoters in the sport. He really cares about the well being of his fighters and that is what makes him a great promoter. To be on the same team as Peter Manfredo and Matt Godfrey is an honor.
I was in the amateurs with Godfrey and always knew he would become a world champion one day. I look up to him not only because he is very talented but because he acts as a role model and captain of Team CES. His talent is only starting to show through and he has a lot to bring to the Cruiserweight division.
You are now in a division that boasts such talented men as Oscar Larios (WBC Champion), Chris John (WBA Champion), Steven Luevano (WBO Champion), Cristobal Cruz (IBF Champion), as well as talented and touted Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa. Do you ever find yourself watching them on TV and wondering to yourself I and when you will get an opportunity to the share a ring with any of these men? And, if it ever came to pass, what would it mean to be in a position that only a handful of men from your home state have ever found themselves in?
Matt Remillard: When I watch the fighters you listed above fight its a reality check that I might soon be in with one of the elite boxers in my division. It makes me train that much harder to make sure that when the day comes I will be fully prepared mentally and physically. Everyone I fight now is guiding me along to face one of the champions in the future and as long as I keep learning and winning each fight, I will be ready when the chance presents itself.
As for the top boxers (in my weight class) their isn't one name that I would pick out of the bunch. My job as a fighter is to be in the best shape mentally and physically. I trust my team with my life and who ever they put in front of me I will be ready for. I have a great manager Bret Hallenbeck and Promoter Jimmy Birchfield. They will know when the time is to make the right steps towards a world title.
Being one of only a handful of fighters who ever got the chance to fight for a world title out of Hartford would be an honor and blessing. To be a part of my hometown's history is why I push myself so hard in the gym.
Any closing thoughts or words? Anything at all. The floor is completely yours.
Matt Remillard: I would like to thank Team Remillard, Ces Entertainment and all of my supporters and fans. 2009 will be a great year for me and my team. Check out www.mattremillard.com for information on future fights and highlights. Thank you again for taking the time to conduct this interview with me.
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