Exclusive Interview With "Fast" Fres Oquendo - "I'm Eager To Mix It Up With Either Of The Klitschkos"

boxingby James Slater - 36-year-old "Fast" Fres Oquendo, the former two-time heavyweight title challenger, is set to get back in action in Indiana on February 20th. Hoping to get one more crack at a world title, the 31-5(20) contender who has been in with top names such as Evander Holyfield and James Toney (who many people thought Fres beat on points a while back) wants to challenge one of the Klitschko brothers.

Taking his upcoming fight with 25-year-old Demetrice King very seriously, Oquendo would like nothing more than to get in with one of the two brothers right after this bout. First, though, he must beat King - a man who has bee stopped just once as a pro.

Very kindly taking the time to speak with me earlier today, Fres gave the following answers to my questions:

James Slater: It's great to speak with you, Fres. I appreciate your time. First of all, what do you know about Demetrice King, who you are fighting on February 20th?

Fres Oquendo: I don't know too much about him actually. I heard he's been beating a number of top prospects in the heavyweight division, and I know he's no pushover. He's dangerous, he can punch and at this stage I take all fights very seriously. Every fight I have is like a title fight really. I'm ready to do my job on February 20th.

J.S: Are you glad to be getting back into action?

F.O: Oh, yes. It's been a while since I last fought - last July, against former WBA champion Bruce Seldon. I'm happy to be back and I'm looking forward to putting on a spectacular show in this fight.

J.S: What is the ideal goal? To get in with a top contender, or go for a title fight after you get past this next fight?

F.O: I feel I'm a fighter who has paid his dues - I've already proven my worth. I'm a warrior and I've always taken all challenges. I'm getting ready for another hard fight right now, and then I'd like a fight with Klitschko. A shot at Klitschko next is my dream.

J.S: When you say Klitschko, do you have any preference on which one?

F.O: No, I have no preference - I'd fight either one. They're both the big names right now and I'm eager to mix it up with either one of them. It's my desire to fight for the title again and win it.

J.S: You are on a roll right now, having won five from your last six fights. Some would even say you won all six, because a number of people thought you beat James Toney in December of 2008. Would you take a rematch with Toney if that were offered to you?

F.O: Oh, yeah, in a heartbeat, of course. You missed out Evander Holyfield - that was a bad decision, a controversial decision that went against me (in Nov. 2006). I'd definitely KO Toney if we fought again. I had only one month at the most to get ready for the first fight, and look what I did. If I had the time to train properly, I'd become the first man to KO James Toney. But anyway, that's all coulda, woulda, shoulda. I'm eager to fight the best now and I want a title shot.

J.S: Your manager, Tom Tsatas, says you are better than ever now, that you are matured and in better condition than ever at age 36. You agree with this?

F.O: I must correct you; Tom Tsatas is my former manager, he is my promoter now. Now I'm managed and advised by Gabriel Penagaricano of The WBC - he's my sole advisor and he also advises Miguel Cotto, to name just one more. But, yes, Tom is right about my conditioning right now. My diet is great and I do feel better than ever at 36.

J.S: Getting back to the Demetrice King fight. He's young at 25 and he is coming off a good, 2nd-round TKO win over the 18-0 Bowie Tupou. What type of fight do you expect? King's only been stopped once.

F.O: He's very tough, he's around 240-pounds and he's a naturally rugged guy. But I have the experience - I've been in with the best. I've also had a great camp for this fight. I'm ready to go 12 rounds if necessary, but if a KO comes, then great. If not, I'll dominate all 12 rounds. The victory is the most important thing.

J.S: Do you feel you are hitting harder now, at age 36?

F.O: Yes, I'm a lot more relentless now - putting punches in bunches. I stopped Mark Brown, who's a real tough guy, back in June (of 2009). He's recently beaten Tony Grano, who upset Travis Kauffman. So that says a lot about my power, that I stopped a guy who has just beaten one of the good prospects. This shows the world I definitely have power.

J.S: You say you want a Klitschko fight after this next one; would you not be interested in facing a top name, say a Chris Arreola or a Tony Thompson first?

F.O: Well, there's a lot of politics in the boxing game today. For example, Alexander Povetkin beat everyone in an elimination and earned a shot at Wladimir Klitschko, but due to an injury that was no fault of his own, he didn't get it and Eddie Chambers is instead. Anything can happen. To be the best you must beat the best and I want to fight the best. That's my main desire.

J.S: How do you see Wladimir going against Chambers in March?

F.O: Chambers is fast, we have sparred together before. He has good counter-punches and he can be awkward. Size isn't that important to a certain extent. And Chambers is great against bigger guys anyway. I wouldn't be surprised to see this fight go the distance. But I'd have to pick Wladimir, because of his experience.

J.S: Do you have a timeframe in mind for how long you will continue boxing for, Fres?

F.O: Yes, I don't want to be like Holyfield or Hopkins and fight until I'm in my mid-forties. I want to put my name in the record books by winning the title, and then in two years or so, I'd like to open my own boxing academy. I want to give back, to help kids. Boxing saved me, and I want to do the same for others. I'm actually working on this now, with some city officials here in Chicago. It will be The Fres Oquendo Boxing Academy.

J.S: That's good to hear. It's been a pleasure speaking with you, Fres. For my final question: I'm from the UK, and I'd like to know what you think of David Haye, the new WBA heavyweight champion.

F.O: I've worked with David Haye before, to help him get ready for a couple of fights. He has speed and he has power; I sparred with him. He also proved he had the skill and the technicality to beat Valuev. It would be an honour to fight my former sparring partner who is now a world champion. We worked together in our Miami days. I'd love it if he gave me that opportunity.

J.S: And how do you see his fight with John Ruiz going?

F.O: Haye can't underestimate Ruiz. Ruiz has been in with the best in the world, myself included, and he's always in great shape. Haye can beat him if he fights his fight. I don't think he should go looking for a KO, though. If he fights his fight he will win.

J.S: Thanks again for your time, Fres.

F.O: Thank you my friend.

(thanks to Rachel Charles for arranging this interview)

Article posted on 05.02.2010

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