by Geoffrey Ciani - When Chevelle Hallback last squared off against Holly Holm she lost by unanimous decision. Nearly three years have passed since then and now the two prepare to do battle again. I was recently afforded the opportunity to have a nice chat with Chevelle as she prepares for her March 26 rematch with Holly Holm. Here is what she had to say:
Q: Chevelle, how are preparations going for your March 26 rematch with Holly Holm?
A: Preparation is going very well. I think my trainers are out to get me, I think it’s a personal thing. I feel like sometimes they’re trying to kill me, but other than that training is going very, very well..
Q: When you last fought Holly Holm nearly three years ago you lost by unanimous decision and two of the three judges actually had the fight a shutout in Holmes’ favor. What went wrong?
A: Altitude—plain and simple, the altitude. Being off as long as I was off and I didn’t prepare for the altitude. I didn’t think that the altitude would be a problem. Once I got into the ring, I think it was the third round, I felt like I was in quicksand. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I felt like I couldn’t move, and I pretty much was in survival mode even though she really didn’t do too much, but just throw one or two out there and move and stay away from me. I followed her the whole night, but pretty much just in survival mode just really trying to finish the fight. Like I said, my breath, it felt like someone just went in and took all the breath out of me. That fight was very difficult for me, like I said—the altitude. You know, coming from Florida below sea level, going up to New Mexico above sea level, it really affected me a lot. We’re preparing for that this time around.
Q: What do you think you’ll be able to do differently to be more successful in the rematch?
A: Like I said my trainers, they are doing whatever they need to do—different exercises, different techniques that they’re using with training to prepare me for the altitude, so that’s what I’m doing different. They really, really make sure my lungs are real strong, make sure that I will not get tired in the fight and that I will be able to throw punches, stay busy, and still be able to keep my wind.
Q: Forgetting the altitude for a second, was there anything you saw from Holly in the first fight that you think you will be able to exploit this time around and if so, what is that?
A: There’s always weaknesses in a fighter and you can capitalize on any fighter that has weaknesses or you find out their flaws. You can always capitalize on that, and I don’t care who you are—there’s always some type of flaw there that if you can prepare for, you can capitalize on that. Somebody told me one time before it would be a crazy thing for any fighter to do is to tell another fighter how they are going to fight them in a fight. I’d rather not say exactly what I’m going to do to capitalize, or what her mistakes are, or what her flaws are, or how I’m going to capitalize on it, but there are flaws there and I’m going to capitalize on them.
Q: Changing things up a bit, what made you first become interested in boxing?
A: Rocky I. I think I was like what, six or seven. My mother took me to the movie theater here and I saw Rocky and I get stung by the bug then, and then as I got a little older Muhammad Ali and Michael Spinks was fighting and I saw that fight and I’m like, “Oh my God! I can do that, I wish I can do that.” Then as soon as I found out there was female boxing with the Christy Martin and Deirdre Gogarty fight—that was on a Saturday night and Monday I went to the gym and said, “Hey! I want to fight. One day I’m going to become a world champion” and look at me now.
Q: In your second professional fight you faced Lucia Rijker and that was a very huge step up in class for you after just one professional fight. Why did you take that fight at that time?
A: I didn’t know any better. I was very green in the fight game and very green in the business. Like you said, I had just won my first fight by knockout—36 seconds I think it was. I never had an amateur career whatsoever. My so-called manager at that time presented the fight to me. He told me, “This girl, she really can’t fight. You will be getting paid $3,000 and it will be on national TV.” I mean that sounded like to me, after only receiving $400 for my first fight and I felt like I was on top of the world because I just knocked out a girl that outweighed me by almost ten-fifteen pounds. I felt like, “Hey! There’s nothing I can’t do”. That sounded like a million dollars to me and everybody is going to be able to see it. I really didn’t know who Lucia Rijker was whatsoever and when I did find out about who she was it was the night before I was to go to Texas to fight her and there was a special on TV and I called my trainer and said, “Coach, who is the fighter I’m fighting again?” He was like, “What?” I was like, “Lucia Rijker?” and he’s like, “Yeah, I think that’s her name”, and I said, “Please turn on your television set and look at this girl”. I said, “Is that the girl I’m fighting?” and I knew then that I was not ready for her whatsoever, but like I said, being green to the game I really didn’t know. I had already signed the contract and I felt that if I didn’t take the fight or go ahead with the fight that I’d be blackballed from boxing forever. So I went and I did the best that I can do with what I knew what I had. I beat her the first round, the second round was a draw, but after that it was history. She was just too much for me and she was much, much more skilled than I was and I was on the job training. That was a great learning experience for me and I just hope, I know she’s retired now, but hopefully one day she’ll come out of retirement and give me that rematch that I really think that I deserve.
Q: Which active boxers do you have the most respect for and why?
A: Oh man. Let me see. Nate Campbell. Whenever he steps in the ring, he gives it his all. He’s a gym rat. He stays in the gym, he stays ready to fight and I’ve sparred with him, we’re very, very good friends. I have a lot of respect for him. I have a lot of respect for, of course, (Floyd) Mayweather. That’s who I idolized besides him and Roy Jones old school. I try to incorporate some of their styles into my style of fighting. Sugar Ray Robinson. He was the greatest. He did so much for boxing. I heard a report that he didn’t even really like to box, but he did it as a way of living because he was good at it. I mean, he was fighting once, maybe twice a week, all the time and he gave his best. So I really look up to fighters like himself. As far as female fighters, Ann Wolfe—Ann Wolfe, she never ran from anybody. She wanted to fight Laila Ali and Laila Ali ran from her and did not give her the opportunity to fight her. I really respect her. Let’s see, who else? Man, that’s all I can think of right now.
Q: Now you mentioned Mayweather. What are your thoughts on the upcoming mega bout between Floyd Mayweather and Sugar Shane Mosley?
A: You know Sugar Shane Mosley is also another one, a favorite fighter of mine. That’s going to be a great fight. I know a lot of people think that Mayweather’s going to win no problem but I think Mosley’s’ really going to give Mayweather some problems. I think Mosley is really going to bring the best out of Mayweather because all of the fighters that I’ve seen Mayweather fight, nine out of ten, they’re right there for you. He really never fought a mover as Mosley. Mosley not only moves, but he punches. He’s got great defense, he’s got a lot of speed, and he’s not just going to stand right there in front of Mayweather in order for Mayweather to hit him. So it’s going to be a very entertaining, exciting fight and I can’t wait to see it.
Q: Before all is said and done, what would you ultimately like to accomplish in your boxing career?
A: HBO, man. That’s what I want. I’m taking a responsibility, I got women’s boxing on my back, and I’m carrying it all the way to HBO. There’s never, ever, ever been a woman fighter on HBO be televised. Not Laila Ali, not Mia St. John, not Christy Martin—Christy Martin fought on Showtime, but never on HBO. I was told from someone that works for HBO that a female boxer will never fight on HBO. I’m really grounded in my faith and I really believe that one day if I keep going and as I go keep winning that one day I will fight on HBO. They said that only the best boxers make it to HBO and male or female, if you’re good, then you should get that opportunity to fight on the best network that shows boxing and right now HBO is the best network that shows boxing. I feel that I’m one of the best female boxers out there and I’m going to keep going either until I get on HBO or until my body just says stop.
Q: For my final question Chevelle, is there anything else you would like to say to all the fans out at East Side Boxing?
A: Man, just that I’m back. I’m so happy to be back. I really thank Holly for giving me this opportunity because she didn’t have to do it, for giving me this opportunity for a rematch. I’m just going to show the fans, my fans out there, that I’m better and I’m going to give them a great fight. The last time it was sloppy, but this time, you’re going to see the best out of Chevelle Hallback.
I would like to thank Chevelle Hallback for her time and wish her the best of luck in her rematch against Holly Holm.
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