Peter Manfredo Jr - "Me Against John Duddy Would Be A War!"

manfredoExclusive Interview by James Slater , photo by Peter Mark Heintzelman / ESB -- Fans are still buzzing about former "Contender" star Peter Manfredo Junior's superb, all-action stoppage win over Walid Smitchet. KO'ing the Canada-based Smitchet in devastating fashion in the 7th round last Saturday, the 28-year-old "Pride of Providence" well and truly got his career back on track.

Improving his record to 32-6(17), the former super-middleweight world title challenger is now campaigning as a middleweight, and after April 18th's impressive win Manfredo called out Ireland's John Duddy.

Knowing, like the rest of us, that such a fight would guarantee great action, Manfredo is hoping the fight can be made, maybe next year some time..

Very kindly taking time out to speak about this and other things, Peter gave me some of his time earlier today.

James Slater: It's a pleasure to speak with you, Peter. First of all, people are still talking about your great all-action fight with Walid Smitchet. You obviously hurt him, did he ever hurt you?

Peter Manfredo: No, he never hurt me. He caught me with some good shots, and he was a tough guy though. It was a very good win for me, I needed it, and I needed to win in an impressive fashion. It was the first step back in the middleweight division.

J.S: The way you ended the fight in the 7th round, was that the best finish you've ever scored?

P.M: I think so. I've never knocked anybody out like that before, where the referee could have counted to a hundred. He was totally out, and for quite a while.

J.S: You've made it clear who you want next - John Duddy.

P.M: Not to be disrespectful to him, but I think this fight makes so much sense he will have to take it. It makes sense for John and it makes sense for me. Our styles will make it a great fight, and it will have an Irish Vs. Italian thing going with it. He comes to fight and I come to fight. It makes too much sense for it not to happen. It will happen.

J.S: If you can't get Duddy next, will you fight at 160 regardless?

P.M: Yes, regardless. I know the Duddy fight won't happen right away - maybe next year. But I wanted to put it out there [that I want the fight]. I want to fight the best, and he's rated number one in the world in many rankings. He was supposed to fight Kelly Pavlik, the middleweight champion of the world. The Smitchet fight kind of ruined that for him, but Duddy's a very good fighter. I'm actually a fan of his. I think he's real exciting to watch.

J.S: Speaking of his win over Smitchet, Duddy was badly busted up and couldn't KO Smitchet as you did. That must give you great confidence against Duddy?

P.M: It does, yes. I want two or three more wins before I feel I'll be ready for him at 160. I've just come off that bad (3rd round TKO) loss to Sakio Bika, and I want at least couple more wins to fully restore my confidence. I know that super-middleweight is not my weight class, the fighters I fought there were just too big. This win [over Smitchet] was just one step back at 160.

J.S: So 160 was always your real weight class? I know you had some big opportunities at 168, a world title shot and so forth.

P.M: Yes, it always was my ideal weight class. The reason I moved up to 168 was because I feel I kind of got robbed in my second fight with Sergio Mora on The Contender Show. That fight was at 160, and I felt that if I stayed at 160 I would be under Mora. And I didn't want to be under Mora, I wanted to be the top dog. So I moved to 168 and then I stayed there once I got there. I beat Scott Pemberton and Joe Spina and earned a world title shot. But really I didn't belong there.

J.S: And was it the stoppage loss to Bika that really convinced you of that?

P.M: It was, definitely. He was way too big and strong. If you look at the fight, it was almost like man against boy. He even moved me across the ring, he was so strong.

J.S: Talking a little bit more about Sergio Mora. He fights Pavlik next, of course. Has he any chance in your opinion?

P.M: No. I think Pavlik will kill him, in my opinion. But it all depends on how Pavlik approaches the fight. If he lets Mora get on the inside, Mora will make it a tough fight for him - I mean, he's tricky, he's a snake. But if Pavlik keeps him on the outside and jabs him and then throws his right hand, if he does that I think he'll knock him out.

J.S: Mora has said he's going to shock the world, he knows he's the underdog. If he does pull off the win, do you think he'd maybe defend against you, or would he look at you as too dangerous for him and stay away?

P.M: I hope he would fight me if he wins. But I think he'd stay away and look at me as too dangerous a fight for him. A fight against me wouldn't do too much for him. He'd probably fight another guy and try to make a few million dollars. But I'd love to do it again with him anyway, even if he loses to Pavlik. After I beat Duddy - I don't want to sound too cocky - we could maybe meet down the road.

J.S: When are you planning on fighting again?

P.M: We're looking at a fight at the end of next month, in Chicago. Nothing's set yet, but that's what my promoter is working on. Then, after I've taken my family on a vacation in June, I'm looking at fighting in August, maybe in Italy. I really want to travel now. I met a promoter, and he said he'd love to have me fight over in France. I'd love to fight in Ireland, too. I want to win four fights this year and that will get me back on track at 160.

J.S: You're well known in the UK - where I'm from - because of The Contender. Also, not to bring up bad memories, but you're also known well here because of the loss to Joe Calzaghe. We all know it was a bad, premature stoppage. Does it still bother you, what happened?

P.M: It did bother me, it bothered me for about a year or two, certainly up until the Jeff Lacy fight. But not now, no. I mean, it takes a lot of your confidence away, to be stopped for the first time. Would I have won? Probably not, nobody ever beat Calzaghe. But I know I would've gone the distance. What bothered me a lot was that the fans, who had paid a lot of money for a fight, never got to see one. But we move on, right? You can't cry over spilt milk every day.

J.S: Talking more about a fight between you and Duddy. He looked to have improved his defence last time out. Do you think he'd try and box more defensively against you?

P.M: It's hard to say. My defence isn't the best in the world but it's better than his. I think it would be a total war if we fought. It would be a fight like Gatti-Ward. It would come down to who wants it more. This is a fight for boxing, a fight for the people. I really hope it happens. Like I said, I think it will happen. I wish him best wishes for his fight tomorrow night (against Billy Lyell). I can't be there because I have to work, but my team will be there to wish him well and all that good stuff.

J.S: Your manager, Larry Army, told me the fight between you and Duddy might be on pay-per-view in both America and Europe. I hope so, that way us guys will get to see it live! Larry also said it would not be an expensive pay-per-view - maybe $10 or $15 or so.

P.M: That's right. I'm very excited about this fight and I look forward to it next year.

J.S: Well, it's been great speaking with you, Peter. Best wishes for your career and we all hope the Duddy fight comes off. As you say, it makes too much sense not to happen.

P.M: I'm glad you called me. Thank you my friend.

Article posted on 24.04.2009

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