Exclusive Interview: Elijah McCall, Oliver McCall

mccall21.04.09 - -By Charles C. White, photo by Wray Edwards / - CW: Whatís up Elijah? How you been man?

EM: Iím doing good.

CW: You turned down a football scholarship to take up boxing. What drove you to do that, and does your father approve?

EM: It was my own decision you know, from the past that is what I always wanted to do. And I got the urge more as I got bigger and matured. And once I asked my father he didnít approve much, he just wanted me to go my own way but then he saw that I was really serious about it.

CW: What was it like to see your father knock out Lennox Lewis?

EM: Oh it was a great experience. I remember my dad jumping up and down in the ring. And then seeing my mother and my grandmother up there. Everybody was real happy and I just dreamed of doing it myself one day..

CW: Do you have any amateur background?

EM: No.

CW: Does your father train you?

EM: Yes Iím trained by my father.

CW: What does your daily training routine consist of?

EM: A whole lot of floor work; you know trying to get my ring generalship together. And more trying to stay consistent with what we are doing. Running. And sparring. We are sparring each other a lot, so I can get more relaxed in the ring because I didnít have that amateur experience. Thatís just it, trying to be more consistent with my punches and my technique. And my mechanics, my boxing mechanics. I feel like I have it, but I just have to be more consistent in what I am doing to bring it out of me.

CW: You are now 2-0 with one draw as a professional fighter, what happened in that fight with Morales, where you received a draw?

EM: That was more of an experience thing. Before the fight a lot of people were coming in that previously fought him and telling me that he was going to run around and move a lot and stay on the outside. And coming in I was just trying to cut off the ring and stuff, trying to get on the inside because he was going to move around, but he did the total opposite on me and closed the distance. He held on a little bit. The referee allowed him to hold and everything, but his tactics against me were just really to close the void between me and him and not allow me to create the distance I need to put the power on my punches. He did a real good job with that, and I had never had a chance to experience that. It kind of confused me a bit, and so I didnít really catch on until the third or fourth round. I still thought I won the fight, but I could have done better if I had just stuck to my game plan.

CW: Many fans have seen your fight with Yohan Banks on youtube, what was it like to dispatch such a big guy so quickly?

EM: It was kind of funny because big guys like that; I like to chop them down. The smaller ones I really donít take as a challenge because they are my size and kind of weak. The bigger ones are the ones that I want to hit and show them that this is my house and I got the power. So going in and taking them out so fast letís the people know to give me my respect as a McCall and I am bringing the power, same as my dad.

CW: You have a fight coming up May 22nd on the same card as your father, what does it mean to you to be fighting on the same card as your dad?

EM: It is an honor, a real blessing to be fighting on the same card. I never dreamed of this happening. I always thought that I would be the main event, with my own card, with my dad being in the corner watching with my family around. Being the undercard and not the main event, I am just opening up. I am setting the stage and starting the night off, so Iíve got to start the night off with a bang and my dad will end the night with a bang. It is a wonderful feeling for all of this to happen.

CW: Do you know anything about your opponent Chad Davis?

EM: Not really other than he is from Phoenix, Arizona (laughs).

CW: How has training camp gone for this fight?

EM: Training camp is going really good. I am in great shape and my punches are coming along very well, I am very sharp right now. My movement is a whole lot better, my upper body movement. I am getting more into moving my upper body because I am not going to run through everybody that I get a chance to fight, so Iíve got to polish my skills off a little more. You know, upper body movement, getting more angles in so my knockouts look more spectacular.

CW: What weight do you plan on coming in at?

EM: 220 lbs.

CW: What are your ultimate plans and goals for professional boxing?

EM: My ultimate plan for boxing is to be the heavyweight champion of the world. The belt that I want is the WBC belt. That is the belt that my dad had and the belt that I claim the ultimate belt. There is nothing less for me. I donít want to be a journeyman fighter or a contender, you know, I just want to be the flat out best, the champion.

Oliver McCall

CW: How are things going Oliver?

OM: Iím doing fine how is everything man?

CW: Iím doing fine, just keeping it real.

CW: How did you first get into boxing?

OM: Oh man, that is a very long story man. My father basically first got me started into boxing when I was 16 years old. I dropped out of high school. I was getting restless and my dad was talking about getting a job. My dad was a doorman, and one of the guys that worked in the building that my dad worked at trained fighters and told my dad ďyour son could fight for $400 and make some moneyĒ and this and that. He interviewed me at 40th and Wilson Ave on the south side of Chicago. I went there for a while, but I never did keep up my training, but that is where I first went to a boxing gym.

CW: What was the toughest fight of your career so far?

OM: Let me seeÖthe toughest fight of my career would probably have to be the Buster Douglas fight I would say. The reason that was a tough fight is because at the time I was sparring Mike Tyson for Buster Douglas, and Buster Douglas is 6í4íí and very strong. I think I only had like 15 professional fights. He was ranked # 2 in the world. We took the fight on. We lost the fight even though I thought that I won that fight. It was a close fight and what not. It was the toughest fight I think of the fights Iíve had throughout my career.

CW: You used to be Mike Tysonís chief sparring partner, what was that like?

OM: That was a blessing. To be Mike Tysonís chief sparring partner was one of the pivotal points of my career because it let me know that I can handle and deal with the best in boxing. Back at that time Tyson was the man in boxing, he was fast, he was powerful, and he was the peopleís dominant heavyweight champion. It let me know that I had the skills and the potential to be the heavyweight champion. The sparring with Tyson showed that I could keep up with the best.

CW: What happened during your rematch with Lennox Lewis?

OM: Well somebody asked me today and she was talking about what happened, and I honestly think it was her first time watching me fight, the Lennox Lewis fight. I said ďIím tired of talking about thatĒ There is no point in talking about that, I have been talking about and people have been asking me that for years. I realize that people 30 years from now people will say ďwhat happened, what are your reflections?Ē Back then I was going through some changes and some situations that I got caught up in. That is where the tears came from. But after the fight, I was fined a large sum of taxes, and so had to pay those taxes. I put myself in that whole predicament, I take the responsibility of my actions, and I hope to move on and win another title.

CW: What are you most proud of in your career?

OM: Right now, the experience of me and my son boxing on the same card. Oh man, this is really big stuff, next to me being champion because this is my son, my oldest son. I love my kids. My mother is very excited to see her son and grandson fight on the same card. This is the most exciting thing of my career as of today. I want us both to be successful on our dream of a father and son fighting on the same card.

CW: Your son Elijah is now a professional heavyweight like yourself, how do you feel about that?

OM: Optimistic. I wasnít optimistic at first. But once we sat down we determined that he was to be trained to fight, I knew that I didnít trust anyone else to train him. I know that I can pass this on to my son, the accomplishments that I have been blessed with in my boxing career. So when my son didnít box amateur, I said ďwell son, we have to get in the ring and test you out.Ē Once we got in the ring, we sparred a few times. He is picking up things really well. So without the amateur experience, I plan to box with him on a regular basis. I am a former heavyweight champ, and just to relay the experience that I have gathered over the years and tell him about certain things in the fight game will really help him. We donít want to bring him along too fast. We want to build his confidence up. He is a natural puncher and a natural knockout artist, but we want to show him the real slick techniques of boxing. I wish you had a tape of that fight (against Morales). I thought my son won that fight, but that guy (Morales) was 300 lbs. and he was really able to do some things that the referee let him do that made the fight so boring. The guy didnít come to fight, he came to survive and make my son look bad. But it was a learning experience. I took my son and we went back to the chalkboard and said if you ever fight this type of guy again, we will do things different to entertain the fans and to bring home a win and possibly a knockout.

CW: If you have a copy of the fight will you put it on you tube for the fans?

OM: Yeah. We will see. Iím pretty sure we have a copy of this fight. And for those who havenít seen the fight, they will say ďwhoís this guy, what is he doing?Ē Somebody who really knows boxing will say ďwhatís up with this referee now?Ē The referee was making the fight look bad. The referee was letting him (Morales) hold extensively. I mean come on now, this guy is here to keep boxing clean like a world class fight. If the ref says break, then break. Sometimes a referee can make a fight look better if he keeps a good exciting fight between to combatants going.

CW: Your next opponent, John Hopoate, has a rugby reputation that leaves little to be desired, are you concerned about any foul play during your fight with him?

OM: No Iím not concerned about any foul play. That is one thing I am not worried about. I play rough and sturdy. Itís not the type where I will fight foul against foul, he fouls me and I foul him. From looking at him fighting on you tube; I think he will fight within the rules and everything, so I am not expecting any foul play from John Hopoate. He had a pretty successful rugby career, so I think that he will follow the rules of sports and boxing just like he was required to follow the rules of rugby. So that is how I look at it. I hope he brings a good fight. I am definitely going to bring my A game coming into the fight. I think we are going to have a very exciting fight and may the best man win.

CW: That is good, because there is a little bit of lackluster in the division right now and the fans want to see a good fight.

OM: They will see a good fight because his style of fighting and my style of fighting make for a good knock Ďem out bang Ďem up fight for a round or two because I think that is all it will last. Iíve never been knocked out so I donít think I am going to get the short end of the stick with that.

CW: Any chance you would share a bit of your game plan for this fight?

OM: My game plan is basically to do what I do best. He is the kind of guy where I donít need a specific game plan. He doesnít have the ring generalship I have. This guy hasnít fought the wonderful professionals in the sport like I have. I beat two hall of fame former heavyweight champions back to back. I beat Lennox Lewis and then came back and beat Larry Holmes. Both of these individuals have been inducted into the hall of fame. There are only two fighters in the history ofÖin fact I might be the only one. There are few fighters in the history of heavyweight boxing that have beat two hall of fame fighters back to back. I think that it is very cool that I have done that. Some fighters might have beat one and then gone on to fight others before fighting another hall of famer, but back to back. Iím excited. I donít think he (Hopoate) has had those types of tough fights, like when I fought Damiani and Bruce Seldon. With my experience, I will be able to throw a lot more different things. So with this type of process, my game plan is to throw a lot of different things, where as he is limited.

CW: How has training camp gone for this fight, and what weight do you expect to be at come fight time?

OM: Training camp is going great. I am going to come in at 238 lbs. Iím going to come in at the 230ís, about 238 to 239 lbs. I boxed 11 rounds yesterday with 3 different sparring partners, and I boxed today. I have sparred over 100 rounds over the last month or so. I am ready to go. I am looking forward to being the new heavyweight champion of the world.

CW: How many more years do you plan on fighting professionally?

OM: God willing, I will be fighting until the year 2011.

CW: Is there anything significant about that year?

OM: No, not really, but I am looking forward to having a very successful 2010. That is going to be the best year of my boxing career. 2010 is going to be my most exciting year because of my determination to kick ass. By then, my son will have some real fights and advancements under his belt. By 2010 he should be a more complete fighter, and we can have a real ball then because my son will be a main event fighter. That means that I am not going to be the main event, but my son will be. That is what I am looking forward to.

CW: You have already accomplished so much in boxing, what are your goals for the sport now, to pull a George Foreman?

OM: Yeah something like that but I think that I am going to do it better because you know George Foreman, I have had to overcome so much more in my life than him and now I am doing the right thing. I might even do it before then (before the age of 45). Iím reaching for that goal. Iíve got two more wins before then.

CW: You have had to overcome a lot in both your professional and personal life; do you now feel that you are on the right path?

OM: Yes, I am definitely on the right path, you know I am 44 years old, and I thank God for being 44. I think that this year, my 44th year, is going to be the year to conduct myself in a better manner. And I am not just talking about drugs and alcohol. You donít have to be lusting after different women and all of the other different things that you can do that arenít good. I want to be a man of character, a man of dignity, a man of integrity. And that is my goal. That is my focus. That is more important to me than fighting now.

OM: A friend of mine named Lawrence Hughes is fighting on the undercard with us and he, my son and I are talking about putting on a triple victory. This isnít a one-two punch, this is a one-two-three punch, and I just want to put that out there too.

CW: One of your fans wants to know, what do you think would have happened in the Vitali Klitchsko vs. Lennox Lewis fight after the 6th round, had it not been stopped on cuts?

OM: Well personally, from my observation of the fight, I believe that if the fight had gone past the 6th round and hadnít been stopped on cuts, then Vitali would have stopped Lennox Lewis for this one thing; Lennox Lewis was exhausted and I could see Vitali determined with a second wind coming on. Before the fight was stopped, Lennox Lewis was looking like ďman I hope they stop the fight.Ē Vitali at that point, if the fight hadnít been stopped on cuts, he would have hit Lennox with the shots that he was hitting him with in the second round, and would have probably stopped Lennox Lewis. That is my personal opinion, but because the fight was stopped by cuts, it didnít go that way. Lennox was so exhausted, that whether it was the 7th or 10th round, I just donít think he would have held up. That might be the reason he retired. I donít know, I am just giving my opinion. I like Lennox Lewis, he was a great champion and we talked a while back. He is a nice guy.

CW: How do you compare the 1990ís heavyweights with those of today?

OM: Man we would have blown them out of the water (laughs). Thatís just it. The heavyweights of the 90ísÖme, Riddick Bowe, big Bowe, Lennox, Tyson, Holyfield, come on man. Letís be real. We would have had a shin dig, a smorgasbord. Iím not just talking about the Klitchskoís, that big giant (referring to Nikolai Valuev) too. You know what I am saying? If an old Holyfield can beat the giant, letís see what the Holyfield from the Bowe fights could do to him. Holyfield would have beat up the giant so bad. I am just speaking my opinion though you know?

CW: It has been an awesome experience speaking with you Oliver; I want to thank you and your son for giving me this opportunity.

OM: Thank you very much. And like I said we are going to have a one-two-three punch on May 22nd and I am just excited to be a part of it. You have a fresh day my man. Later.

Article posted on 09.05.2009

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