Exclusive Interview With Tom Tsatas, Manager Of Heavyweight Contender Fres Oquendo

boxingby James Slater - Tom Tsatas, manager of world ranked contender and former world title challenger "Fast" Fres Oquendo, always has plenty of interesting things to say about the current heavyweight division, his fighter's future and possible big fights for the 36-year-old.

With his fighter currently out in Germany helping WBA champ Nikolai Valuev get ready for David Haye, Tom is in Miami working on other interesting things. Kindly giving me an interview today, here are Tom's answers to my questions:

James Slater: It's great to speak with you, Tom, as always. Firstly, I hear your guy Fres Oquendo is out in Germany working with Nikolai Valuev. How's it been going?

Tom Tsatas: Yes, Fres is over there in Germany right now, he's been out there for a couple of weeks. I'm in Miami myself, but I've spoken to Fres.
They've been working well together. We can't give away too much obviously, because it's [Valuev-Haye] a big fight. But Valuev is a better fighter than people think he is. Fres is much faster than him, but Valuev's got underrated skills and of course he's very strong. I don't think anyone will ever stop Valuev. But he's a great guy, Fres says he's like a gentle giant.

J.S: Obviously, Fres wants to get a fight lined up. Is there any chance he could get a spot on the Nov. 7th card?

T.T: Right now, if we got an offer we'd take it. But Fres doesn't have a promoter per-se right now, so our options are kind of open right now. Nobody has ever had Fres as their golden boy - you know promoters always have their own golden boy. Nobody really wants to put Fres on a show - because he's too big of a risk for their fighters. Chris Arreola's name has come up just recently, but I really don't think the Goossens will risk Arreola taking on Fres. I think Fres would do pretty much the same thing to Arreola as he did to James Toney. We'd love that rematch, too. We'd love both fights, but they'd have to offer us a good deal, not just peanuts.

J.S: Can I ask you what happened with the recently called off Oquendo-Odlanier Solis fight?

T.T: Well, there's a history between the two guys. We were with DiBella back around two years or so ago, and they offered Fres the Solis fight but it never came off. Then, earlier this year, Solis backed out of the fight. Then, the last time, what happened was, my dad has cancer and I was not around, and when I came back it transpired how Fres had a court date that he had to attend on the same day as the weigh-in. Fres has some property issues that had to be dealt with in court, and it was essential he went - it would have been contempt of court if he didn't attend. So that was that. If we ever do that fight, it has to be on even terms. Fres would need the proper time to train, and he would have to have it where the judges would be fair, on a level playing field so to speak. We have to be a bit more choosy now. We've had enough bad decisions go against us.

J.S: It does seem as though Fres, at age 36, has looked better than ever in his last three or four fights. Do you feel that too?

T.T: I feel the reason for that is, his mind's more at ease now. Before, he had problems with promoters and managers, and he took a couple of years off - he needed to because he needed shoulder surgery actually. Nobody was looking out for him, though. The shoulder was the reason he looked so bad against [John] Ruiz. He's also a smarter fighter now, he's matured. Also, he's almost obsessive about his diet now, and he's running more than ever. He's not punchy at all and he's a real young 36.

J.S: Fres has not fought since July, obviously you want a fight for him before the end of the year. Will you be able to get one though?

T.T: Even if it's just a fight to keep busy. He's back in the rankings now, he's 12 with the WBC and 12 with the IBF. We've talked about a possible fight with David Rodriguez (32-0(30) contender from Texas). Fres wants a fight with a top guy, but nobody wants to risk their ranking. Of course, we'd love that rematch with James Toney, too. If it happens, I think Fres will be the first guy to stop Toney. We've been trying to make that fight. You know, it's all about waiting your turn - anything could happen. It's about always being ready. The Sauerland's really like Fres, for all the good work he's done [with Valuev]. They've treated him great. I know he's not a Sauerland fighter and obviously they have to look after their own fighters, but maybe they'll give us a shot for the under-card in Germany. We'll have to wait and see. We should know by the end of the week. But if not, there's always next week I guess.

J.S: How long, at age 36, do you think Fres will continue to fight for?

T.T: Well, he's a young 36. We're not in any great hurry for a big fight. If it takes six months, a year, a year and-a-half. Fres would love to fight any of the guys who have beaten him. I do think a return with David Tua will probably happen. Fres would happily take that fight. I know Tua has a lot of respect for Fres - believe it or not he told him he gave him a much tougher fight and he hurt him more than Lennox Lewis did. And a return with Ruiz or Holyfield we'd love, too. But the thing is the money. Holyfield's not gonna fight for $25,000 when he can get half a million for a fight in Europe. Fres has said he'd fight these guys for nothing at a certain level. He's going to want to get paid if he fights them on HBO, where there's a good chance he won't get the verdict, because that could possibly end his career.

J.S: Just getting back to the Valuev-Haye fight. Does Fres, having sparred with Valuev, have any prediction for who wins?

T.T: He wouldn't say even if he did. He wouldn't divulge anything, because they [Team-Valuev] wouldn't want him to. But he's sparred around 20 rounds with Valuev, and they've both been giving each other great work. As for me, I think the fight goes all 12 rounds. I know Haye has a great right hand, but I don't think he stops Valuev. But how will the judges have it after 12? Fres has sparred with Haye in the past also, around a 100 rounds, and that was great action to watch - maybe Haye and Fres could fight, that would be another great match.

J.S: I think the fans respect Fres as a guy who has always fought the best, has never ducked anyone and has always paid his dues. He deserves another big fight before he does retire. It seems all the world titles are tied up right now though.

T.T: You never know when a guy might pull out of a fight - look at the [Ruslan] Chagaev situation. It's always about being ready. Fres would jump at the chance of a shot at Oleg Masakev, Sam Peter or Ray Austin; guys who are reportedly in the title picture. Fres is a fighter who may be more appreciated in Europe, because he's not a big puncher but his style may appeal more in Germany or in Europe. You know, though, Fres isn't a big KO puncher, but look at the guys he's not KO'd - Tua, Holyfield, Toney and Elieser Castillo; guys who have never been stopped. Other than against those guys, Fres has done okay [in getting KO's]. But, I guess it's all about giving the fans what they want, and they like the rock 'em sock 'em guys.

J.S: It's been great taking with you, Tom. I hope Fres can get himself a good fight soon.

T.T: Okay, James, thank you for your time.

Article posted on 27.10.2009

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