Exclusive Interview With Vinny Maddalone

maddaloneby James Slater - Heavyweight crowd-pleaser Vinny Maddalone, 31-5(22) is in action this coming Tuesday (April 28th). Taking on the 18-6(9) Benji Baker in New York, the 35-year-old warrior is excited to be back in action. Last time out, Vinny took unbeaten 23-year-old Russian hope Denis Boytsov the distance - in the process boxing in Europe for the first time in his career.

Now hoping to get some more wins under his belt and then another big fight, Maddalone needs to take care of the 33-year-old Baker.

Very kindly taking time out to speak with me over the phone yesterday afternoon, Vinny was, as always, cordial and fun to talk with..

Here are his answers to my questions:

James Slater: It's a great pleasure to speak with you, Vinny, as always. Firstly, we know you're a guy who is always in top shape, but how did training go for next Tuesday's fight against Benji Baker?

Vinny Maddalone: Oh, it went good. I did a hard six weeks, six weeks ago we got the call for the fight. Training went great.

J.S: You'll be coming in at you usual weight?

V.M: Yeah, around 232, as usual.

J.S: What do you know about Benji Baker?

V.M: Not too much actually. I've seen him on tape, but he's coming back after a (seven-and-a-half year) layoff. So the last time I saw him was around 2001. But back then he looked like a game kid who'll come at me, which I enjoy. I heard he's been doing so mixed martial arts while he's been out of boxing, that's what I heard. I know those two sports are totally different.

J.S: Looking at his record, he doesn't get stopped too often, I think just twice. The crowd-pleaser that you are, will you be looking for a KO?

V.M: Well, I know everyone always says as long as you get the win, but you know me! I come out throwing bombs (laughs). I'm in shape to go the limit if I have to, but why not end it in the first round if you can, you know? I'm looking to try and end it early. I'm really looking forward to this fight, it's my first fight in Queens, where I'm from.

J.S: How long is the fight scheduled for, Vinny?

V.M: It was scheduled for ten, but they cut it to eight - I think because of him coming back after that layoff.

J.S: Just talking a little about your last fight, when you dropped a decision against the unbeaten Denis Boystov. There's a lot of talk about Boystov going far, do you think he's the real thing having fought him?

V.M: Oh, yeah, definitely. I told his trainer after the fight that if he works hard he's got a bright future. He throws a lot of punches, he's about the same as me at around 220 and 6'2." He had around 150 amateur fights and he's a good kid.

J.S: Your first fight outside of America, how was it? Did the fans take to you as you thought they would?

V.M: Yes, it was my first time [fighting] in Europe. The people over there treated me great. I wish I'd come back with a victory, but the fans liked my style of fighting. I tell you though, it's a little different over there than it is in the U.S. The fans are a lot calmer and more laid back. They don't really cheer and get involved like they do over here. It was weird at first, with them just clapping a little. But when they saw a battle was developing, they started to get into it more.

J.S: Do you plan on having more fights in Europe in the future?

V.M: I hope so. Joe's [DeGuardia] working on something right now. I don't want to look ahead before I get this next fight out of the way first. But, yeah, it's possible that I could fight in Europe in the summer. I'd love to get back over there.

J.S: Is your plan for this year to stay busy and hopefully get another big fight?

V.M: Absolutely. I want to get this win and then hopefully I'll get a shot somewhere - another big fight. I'm ready. I mean, I'm not getting any younger, but win or lose I'll always give my all and give the fans their money's worth.

J.S: You turned 35 back in December, which is by no means at all old for a heavyweight. I read in an article on you, by the great Thomas Hauser, where you said you'd know when it was time to walk away. How long do you think you'll fight on for?

V.M: I'd say I'll fight two or three years more. 35 is not old for a heavyweight and I started late anyway. I never had much of an amateur career. I know I've been in a number of wars, but, knock on wood, I don't think they've had any effect. I live healthy and I train hard, and I think that's the most important thing.

J.S: One guy over here in the UK that is getting a lot of attention right now is Tyson Fury. First of all, have you heard of him?

V.M: Yeah, I think I read about him on Eastside Boxing, actually.

J.S: The reason I brought him up is because I read some place that he may one day fight you. Have you heard anything about that? He needs a real test, that's for sure.

V.M: No, I've not heard anything yet. I know he's calling out a guy in the UK (Vinny was referring to Fury's calling out of David Price). You know, I kind of look at boxing as a business today. If the money's right, let's do it, you know? If the dollars make sense, let's do it. It doesn't matter who it is.

J.S: We'd love to see you fight over here in the U.K.

V.M: Oh, I'd love it too. That's another one of my goals before I retire, to fight in the U.K. I've seen the Ricky Hatton fans, the way they love their boxing. So why not let them see me? I would give it 100-percent.

J.S: We know that about you, Vinny. That's why you're so popular. As you mentioned Hatton, what's your take on his fight with Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd? I've been asking everyone!

V.M: I know Pacquiao's the favourite, but I've gotta go with Ricky, I really do. I mean, that win over De La Hoya - he didn't really want that fight. He's [De La Hoya] got all that money, but he just took the fight. Ricky's still hungry and I think he'll stop Pacquiao late in the fight, I'd say round nine or ten. I think he's improved under Mayweather Senior, and he has more head movement and a better defence now. I go with Hatton, I really do. His whole thing is pressure, like it is with me. And pressure can change a guy's whole game-plan. Ricky can take a guy's heart. I know Pacquiao has all the heart in the world, but I go with Hatton.

J.S: Another big fight getting a load of hype is Wladimir Klitschko against David Haye. In your opinion, has Haye got a chance or is he just hype?

V.M: No, I think he's all hype I'm afraid. I know no-one really likes Klitschko's style, but he's got that left jab. All he's gotta do is jab and use his right hand. I think he's too big for Haye. Haye's a great fighter but he's just not big enough.

J.S: Obviously, any fight on that level is the dream for you?

V.M: Without a doubt. All I can do is be in shape and always be ready for that call. My name is known now and a big fight like that could possibly come up at any time. If the call comes I'd love to do it. I really enjoy my career and I want to travel and just give the fans their money's worth right now. I look forward to the next fight after this one goes well, and I just want to keep on going.

J.S: Well, we all wish you the best, Vinny. And good luck for next Tuesday.

V.M: Okay, thank you, James. And you stick at the writing.

Article posted on 25.04.2009

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