Exclusive Interview With Peter Manfredo Junior - "I Know I'm In For A Tough Fight On May 22nd"

manfredoby James Slater - Though he was driving in his car when I called, heading to the gym, Peter Manfredo Junior was still kind enough to talk with me about his upcoming May 22nd fight with tough Mexican Angel "Toro" Hernandez earlier today. Arguably the most demanding fight in quite a while for both men, the IBO middleweight bout certainly promises to be an exciting affair.

29-year-old Manfredo, 34-6(18) dropped down to middleweight back in early 2009, and since then "The Pride of Providence" has won three straight, two by stoppage. Knowing he has a tough fight ahead of him against the durable and aggressive Hernandez, 30-7(17), Manfredo has left no stone unturned in the gym.

Here is what the always-friendly former "Contender" star had to say in answer to my questions:

James Slater: It's always a pleasure to speak with you, Peter - especially so close to a fight. The fight with Angel Hernandez is just ten days away after all.

Peter Manredo Junior: Yeah, just ten days away. I feel sharp and I'm ready.

J.S: Would you say you had a perfect camp so far? I know you're winding down now.

P.M: Yes, definitely. I will just stay sharp now, on the pads. Camp went well, I got a lot of rounds in, I sparred a lot and I feel great.

J.S: Did you spar with your usual guys?

P.M: Yeah, the same as for the last fight (with Matt Vanda - Manfredo WU10 in January). I worked with some pressure guys, too. I worked with Elvin Ayala for a day, we did about six rounds together. It was great work, he's getting ready for his own fight on June 11th, against David Lemieux. As I say, I feel great, I feel ready to go and I'm ready to become world champ.

J.S: What will you do from now until the fight, Peter? How will you taper down; with roadwork and stuff like that?

P.M: Yes, I'll do roadwork - four miles a day. And then I'll workout at the gym at night, just some light shadowboxing and jumping rope. Just as long as I stay sharp. The thing now is to come in and make weight. I'm very miserable right now, making weight is the worst part, I just want to be my myself.

J.S: That's why I'm especially grateful for you taking the time to talk to me - so close to the fight. Hernandez, "Toro" as he's known, is talking a great fight. Is it fair to say that on paper at least, this is your toughest fight since you moved down to middleweight?

P.M: I would say that, yes. When I first moved back down [to 160], Walid Smichet was tough, but this guy will be even tougher. He's a Mexican - they all have heads like rock! I mean, there are no easy fights when a title is on the line. We're both coming to win, but I'm confident I will perform and do it. I'm feeling very sharp as I said.

J.S: You've often said to me how you always want to be in a Gatti-Ward type fight one day. I asked you if that could happen before you're last fight, with Matt Vanda, and you said maybe. But you out-boxed Vanda and were just too good. Will you get your Gatti-Ward fight against Hernandez do you feel - or will you out-class him also?

P.M: Well, I don't know. I hope I'll be too classy for him, but you never know. I jumped right on Vanda, but he was tough and he knew how to survive; even though I had him down in the fight. I had my way with him pretty much all night. I don't think this fight will be that easy. I'm not saying Vanda was easy, I just made it look easy with my boxing skills. I think Hernandez will take more chances, and he knows his stuff - he's been in with Winky Wright for the world title.

J.S: Hernandez has only been stopped once, way back in 2000. Do you kind of expect a distance fight?

P.M: I do expect a distance fight, yes. As you say, he's only been stopped once. I wanted to stop Vanda so badly, but he survived. A KO would be a bonus in this fight, but I'm always in shape to go 12-rounds if I have to.

J.S: Have you seen much of Hernandez on tape?

P.M: I've seen a little of him. Actually, it wasn't until the press conference, when he came up to me, that I remembered him from the Fernando Vargas camp from a while back. That's when it clicked. We both worked with Vargas - I forget which fight it was that Fernando was getting ready for - and Vargas liked to spar with Hernandez first, because he pressured him; and I guess Vargas liked that when he was most fresh. I know I'm in for a tough fight on the 22nd, but I think I'll box him. The thing is, he'll come out throwing his bombs, but he can't adjust - he knows one way to fight and he can't make adjustments. I'll win either way - either I'll out-work him or I'll box his socks off. I'll look to box, but if I have to fight then by all means I will do so and win that way. It's definitely going to be an exciting fight.

J.S: You never actually sparred with Hernandez then?

P.M: No, we were both just in Vargas' camp.

J.S: You've said in the past that you won't rush, and that you will challenge for one of the big middleweight belts when you are fully ready, so as to make sure you win. Assuming you win this fight, and in dominant fashion, will you then go for either the WBC, the IBF, the WBO or the WBA middleweight title afterwards? I know this fight on May 22nd is for the IBO title.

P.M: Definitely. I want to unify. I've always thought there should only be one champion at each weight. I'll definitely be ready after this fight. I didn't really expect a title fight this soon; but I'd love a big, big fight with Sergio Martinez or someone like that. I think that if I win on the 22nd, with my name from "The Contender" I will be able to get a big fight like that. Obviously, I have to get past this fight first though.

J.S: Well, it's been great speaking with you, Peter, as always. I wish you the best of luck for the fight. It would be great to call you up again after you've won!

P.M: Thank you, James. Call me after I've won. Like I say, I'm ready to become world champion.

Article posted on 13.05.2010

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