Otis Griffin: ďI see myself beating Kelly Pavlik at 168Ē
Geoffrey Ciani: Light heavyweight contender Otis Griffin is recently coming off of an impressive eighth round technical knockout victory against former WBA super middleweight champion Byron Mitchell. Griffin, who is a former winner of Oscar De La Hoyaís reality television program ĎThe Next Great Champí, now has eyes set on bigger and better things. I recently was afforded the opportunity to have a nice chat with Otis and here is what he had to say:
Q: Otis, a couple of weeks ago you just scored an impressive victory over Byron Mitchell. I was wondering, how do you evaluate your performance in that fight?
A: I thought it was, I would say an A-/B+. I really feel like I could have done even better, but to be honest with you we followed the strategy to the tee. We wanted to make him move faster than he needed to move due to his power punching ability and his stationary deficiency. After that, from one to six, we were making him move fast and then for the last six rounds we were looking to get him out of there six, seven or through the ninth round but we ended up getting him in the eighth..
Youíve won three fights in a row, but prior to that you had lost five out of six. Have you changed anything in your preparations or your training that has helped put you back on the winning track?
A: Oh definitely. I pretty much went out and just reevaluated myself, reinvented myself. I got a better manager, got a more world level trainer in Si Mateen. After that we just pretty much shook our tree loose and came back to the drawing board and started over. In those fights that I lost, two of them were due to just bad decisions. My first fight with Jimmy Mince was a bad decision and the fight that was supposed to reevaluate my career against Jeff Lacey we all know I got robbed because I was on the Jeff Lacey promotional cards and him and Roy Jones had later business.
Q: Otis, when would you ultimately like to get back inside the ring?
A: I would like to get back inside the ring, weíre working on right now sometime in Julyóhopefully July 17, July 24. I have some tentative dates. We are working on those fights to build up and just get more rounds. We have the mandatory for the USBA in November. In between that time we even are venturing out and hoping we get a Kelly Pavlik fight. If not, we are looking forward to the defense in November with Omar Sheika or somebody ranked in the top of the USBA. After that, hopefully we would have had three more wins by that time and be the number one contender moving into the winner of Tavoris Cloud and Glen Johnson.
Q: You mentioned Kelly Pavlik. He fought one time above the 160 pound weight limit, actually twice if you include the catch weight he had his rematch with Jermain Taylor. He moves up to 168. How do you see yourself doing against Pavlik and do you think you would have any trouble making 168?
A: No, I donít think I will have any trouble making 168. I did have trouble making 168 against Jesse Birnkley a couple of years ago, but since then I got a nutritionist. Iíve learned to work smarter and not harder and I fought Jeff Lacy at 170-168 range. Then I came back and beat Joe McCreedy over in Rhode Island at 168. I actually weighed in at 167 and felt great, went the whole distance for the fight and everything. I see myself beating Kelly Pavlik at 168. I think Iím one of those hybrid guys that are just bigger, faster, and stronger. I bring a lot of stuff to the table. Iíve had a lot of experience in world title fights now at a high level. In fact, I would say that at light heavyweight Iím the most proven outside of Chad Dawson being I went to all these abroad places and fought Danny Green, and over in Germany for the IBF Inter-Continental, and then came back and fought Jeff Lacy. In the last year and a half, Iíve beaten two world champions in Byron Mitchell and Jeff Lacy.
Q: Kelly Pavlik, heís now lost against Bernard Hopkins and of course, most recently, against the new middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. If you were to face him and you were to beat him at this point, do you think that you would get the due credit you deserve for winning a fight of that magnitude at this time?
A: Well you know, people are always going to try and discredit you and everything like that, but the main thing you would have to do is just show improvement. With Kelly Pavlik, if weíre not going to get our just due credit with him then point me to the guy that you want me to fight and Iíll beat him, too.
Q: Now you also mentioned the winner of Glengoffe Johnson and Tavoris Cloud. If you had an ideal choice, and you could definitely get one fight before the end of this year, would you rather it be Pavlik? Or would you rather if be for the title against the winner of that fight?
A: I would rather it be for the title for the winner of that fight. The IBF convention is going to be here at the beginning of June and Iím hoping to slide into the number one contender spot with Glen getting his shot again. I would say that if you look at everybody else there, currently everybody else that is pretty much under the current number four, which is Bernard Hopkins, is inactive. They donít have my resume. Like I said, Iíve beaten two world champions in the last year and I think that I deserve that number one contender spot and I really think I should be, given my age and me being a reality show guy with a face and a positive persona moving forward with the sport of boxing and with my skills that Iíve shown over the last year. I think I should be the next heir to the throne to the IBF or at least get the chance for the title. So yeah, I would definitely take that fight over a Kelly Pavlik fight.
Q: Changing things up a tiny bit Otis, Iím curious, what are your thoughts on the Super Six super middleweight tournament as a whole?
A: I think itís great. I think the tournamentís great for boxing. Hopefully they will make another one at the welterweight division and they will make one at light heavyweight as well as heavyweight. I think itís bringing boxing back. I watch it and record it and watch it over and over and over, every fight when it comes. Itís almost like the World Cup of boxing, if you ask me.
Q: Who do you think will win the upcoming fight between Andre Ward and Allan Green?
A: Iím looking for Andre Ward to win. I think that Andre is one of those guys, Iíve sparred Andre for quite some time out here on the west coast, and heís a guy that he comes out and changes up every round. If he doesnít have the key to beat you, he searches through his pocket and he finds that key.
Q: Back to your career Otis, youíve been recently tinkering back and forth between 168 and 175 pounds. Where do you think youíre best suited to fight and where do you think the majority of your fights in the foreseeable future will take place? At which weight class?
A: Well 175 is a weight class that is wide open and I really think that I can take over the weight class and seize it, but I welcome the opportunity after the Super Six is over to fight any of those guys. I really think that it would be an honor to be in the ring with any of those guys and compete for a title or for an eliminator bout to fight for a title, but I see myself as a light heavyweight because that is an original weight class. I tell people all the time that 168 pounds is a man-made weight class that has only been around since the 80s. Joe Calzaghe has done a lot of things for it, but hopefully all those guys will move up to 175 and we can bring it back and maybe have a Super Six at 175 or something.
Q: Otis, what would you ultimately like to accomplish in the long term during your boxing career?
A: I want to be the unified champion at 175 pounds. My brother, Andre Griffin, died April 20 in 2004 right before I got a chance to go on the reality show ĎThe Next Great Champí. One of the last things he said to me was if youíre going to do it, go all the way through and be the best at it and thatís the only thing that Iíve been left with. Itís the reason that Iím still fighting right now, the reason Iím still out there chasing world titles and getting off the deck to win fights is to be the unified champ at 175 pounds and Iím right around the corner from that. When I get the chance to fight for the IBF title Iím going to win the IBF title and then Iím going to defend it and then Iím going to go out and take the other big four titles, the WBC and the WBO and the WBA and then once I do that, then I can walk off into the sunset and be happy.
Q: Which fighter at 175 pounds currently do you think represents the toughest style challenge for you?
A: Chad Dawson, definitely is a guy that, you know, I helped him prepare for the Glen Johnson fight and I know that right there heís a very long guy, heís a very quick guy. Eddie Mustafa Muhammad is his trainer and they work on angles and they work on the science just like I do and I think that it would be a great match and something for the fans to watch. Right there in Vegas, we had a crowd watching us spar and everything and I think he brings the most difficult challenge because heís a very cerebral fighter as I am myself.
Q: Now following up on that, you mentioned Chad Dawson, how do you think heís going to perform in his upcoming match against Jean Pascal?
A: Itís one of those things where you never know how itís going to go because Jean Pascal is very quick and very what I call a Ďrhythm fighterí and is very sporadic in what he does and he could jump in off of one of those wild shots and catch Chad. I think thatís whatís difficult for Chad is not being with a guy whoís so clean. I think thatís what he had with Glen the first time around. When a guyís not completely clean or whatever, or tries to mix it up with him heís not really used to doing that at this time just yet. If Pascal can tap into that, itís going to be a great fight anyway, but then Pascal has a great chance of winning but I give Chad an 80% chance of walking away with another title.
Q: Otis, is there anything else you would like to say to all the fans out at East Side Boxing?
A: Yeah, you know itís been awhile. I came into this sport out of football and now you guys are going to see my best years. I have reinvented myself as a boxer. I have a better support group, a better manager, a better trainer, and if you look back at my record you could see the groundwork for greatness. Now that Iím hitting on all cylinders, Iím ready to go after Cloud, Dawson, Pascal, whoever else is out there and be the unified light heavyweight champion so keep your eyes open for Otis Griffin.
Q: Otis, itís been an absolute pleasure speaking to you. I wish you the very best of luck in your career.
A: Thank you Geoffrey, and I thank you for your time and thank East Side Boxing and God bless you guys.
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