Exclusive interview of New Zealand's Put up or Shut up event promoter Craig Thomson

by Charles C. White - Good morning Craig, how are you doing today mate?
CT: Hey Charles I'm good thanks my man.

You have an upcoming promotion this Thursday, July 22nd called Put Up or Shut Up. Tell us a little bit about this event and where it will be staged....

CT: Like the name suggests it's Put up or Shut up time. I have a bunch of local grudge matches which are semi-pro bouts followed by two exciting professional bouts. A lot of guys like to talk the talk so now we are asking them to walk the walk. The event itself is staged at the home of Boxing NZ the ABA Stadium, 1 Ngahura Street, Mt. Eden. There’s a total of 14 fights with the main event being Jameson Bostic vs Vini Mahoni, tickets are $30 at the door we have sold out of all pre-sold tickets so expect a packed stadium and a BIG night.

Your fight cards always end up being fun and entertaining, with both amateur and professional fights. Can we expect this to be the case come the 22nd?

CT: Of course Charles, you know the sport of boxing is the entertainment business so the paying public deserves to be entertained! That’s what I always strive for on my promotions. I’m forever learning and willing to take on new ideas and run with them.

Your heavyweight fighter Clarence Tillman (5-4-1 with 3 kos) is scheduled to face lightly regarded John Argall (1-2-0 according to boxrec). Is this just a tuneup enroute to a more difficult opponent?

CT: Yes Clarence will be fighting John Argall July 22nd. I wouldn’t suggest anyone take Argall lightly either, Argall is New Zealand’s current professional 8 man tournament winner, he won that by beating 3 opponents on one night all by ko. So really his professional record stands at 4-2-0, and is widely regarded down here as one of our hardest punchers. Not overlooking the fact that his first professional loss was to Former kickboxing world Champion Jason Suttie! So to answer your question I think we have a VERY good fight on our hands. Argall is stepping stone to bigger fights!

Tillman is a big fighter at 6' 5'' and roughly 270-290 lbs. It is still early in his professional career and despite some setbacks in the past, he is more than capable of turning things around for the better. Where do you see Tillman in the heavyweight picture in the near future?

CT: Correct Tillman is a big man, let's not forget however he’s fighting as a heavyweight, of course there are plenty of guys the same size and bigger in this division! Of course he’s capable of turning things around. Jameson Bostic, who fights on the same card, started 2-3 in his first 5 fights and is now 20-4. It's a case of him wanting it, and learning from those early setbacks, fighters generally learn more from a loss than a win. Right now in my opinion Tillman is still at the beginning of his professional career, there's no need to rush things along, right now it's about setting some good work ethic in the gym and getting your head in the right space and staying busy which we’ll be making sure of that!

He obviously doesn't lack power with 4 of his 5 wins coming by way of knockout. There are even rumors of him knocking down former 2x heavyweight champion of the world Hasim Rahman in sparring. Can you verify these reports?

CT: Clarence is a big guy so when he lets them go you better know that they will be landing with bad intentions. It's the hurt business so like every other fighter out there, give him the chance to get you out, he’ll look to take it! Sparring rumors are exactly that, for me what goes on in the gym stays in the gym. I was not present when this supposed incident occurred so won't comment. Perhaps we could ask Mr Rahman?

Another fighter of yours is cruiserweight Jameson "Jamie Kang" Bostic (20-4 with 11 kos) who, according to boxrec, is set to face a man named Kashif Mumtaz (5-17-1 with 4 kos). Tell us a little bit about Bostic and where you see him in the next 3 years career-wise...

CT: For the record Bostic will now be fighting former kickboxer Vini Mahoni. I believe Mahoni has a very good kickboxing record of 21-5 or thereabouts and has recently started his professional boxing career. Bostic is a slick southpaw, tall rangy and clever. He’s been fighting out of New Zealand now for the past couple of years and we have been working together to push him towards a world title shot in the not too distant future. A lot can happen in 3 years, a lot can happen in just a few months in professional boxing so we are just taking it one step at a time, one opponent at a time, not overlooking anyone. I'd like to say Jaime will be a Light-Heavyweight World Champion whos defended his title numerous times...let's wait and see.

Is the fight with Mahoni just a stay-busy fight for Bostic with bigger fish on the horizon?

CT: There's always bigger fish on the horizon but once again we cannot overlook anyone, as mentioned earlier Bostic will now face experienced kickboxer Vini Mahoni so we’ll take care of business this coming Thursday, then re-evaluate from there. Really Bostic is a light-heavyweight and hes been facing these cruisers just to get fights. Mahoni is another example of this so it's even more reason not to discount him. We’d like a fight with Aussie Tim Bell if he's willing to put his titles on the line and defend like a true champion.

How much longer before we see Bostic in the top 10 at cruiserweight?

CT: Well Charles, Jamie’s natural weight is light-heavyweight, so as previously mentioned we have been taking fights at cruiser, thus keeping the weight on Jaime to compete. We are probably doing ourselves a disservice by fighting at cruiser which means we are being ranked amongst the cruisers. But right now it's about staying busy fighting regulary and it's the cruisers that are willing to fight him here right now so those are the fights we’ll take. When the big fights come around they’ll be at light-heavy, and they shouldn’t be far away, we are in the process of getting Jaime regional title fights to push his case with the main sanctioning bodies.

Are there any other fighters on this card that we should take note of? If so, tell us about them...

CT: Mainly there are a lot of semi-pro guys having there 2nd or 3rd fight. Some are making their debuts, so right now it's a case of sitting back and waiting to see who out of these guys looks the goods and is willing to take it to the next level and turn into full professionals. There's certainly plenty of talent in our region so it's exciting.

Now I know that in the past, you also managed some fighters. Is this still the case?

CT: Yes it is, I still have involvement with a number of guys. I do believe last time we spoke I told the readers to watch out for young Samoans Vaitele Soi and Warren Fuiava. Well Soi is now 13-0-0 at cruiserweight and Fuiava now 9-0-0 at light-heavyweight. Both fight again shortly, and both are worth keeping a close eye on.

Interestingly, you yourself fight on your own promotions. What is your current record and can we expect to see you fight on this card as well?

CT: Unfortunately I won't be fighting on this card, I find it difficult to juggle the running of the show with fighting as well. I have gone 6-1 over the last 2 years so I am pretty happy with that.

Are there any other upcoming promotions of yours that we should know about, or is it too early for another show to be in the works just yet?

CT: I have a promotion for the end of October in the planning stages right now. It will be on a larger scale so a bigger event with a few more pro bouts showcasing some good local talent as well as the international guys. Stay tuned!

Give us your impressions of the action-packed brawl between American heavyweight Travis Walker (34-5-1 with 28 kos) and Aussie fighter Alex Leapai (19-3-3 with 15 kos). A lot of people thought that the fight was stopped too soon (Walker was controversially tko'd in the 4th round after almost stopping Leapai moments earlier), thus resulting in disappointment for Team Walker...

CT: Wow, easily the best heavyweight fight I have seen in our region this year, if not for a long time! Both guys just went balls to the wall from the outset, the "ko me or I’ll ko you" attitude. I do believe the fight was stopped too early yes. Given the abuse Walker had just dished out to Leapai, for him to be stopped after in that fashion was unfair. At points of the fight both guys were out on their feet. I do think Walker was getting the better of Leapai though but definitely one of those fights which could have gone either way. 4 great rounds!

Do you agree that Leapai should grant Travis a much deserved rematch?

CT: Yes that would be fair on Travis should he want the rematch. I mean it would sell, people who saw the 1st fight will agree that if they were to do it again it would be well worth watching. I have a sneaking suspicion however that Leapai feels like he got a get outta jail free card, so might not be so inclined to mix it again with Walker anytime soon.

Did you happen to catch the David Tua-Monte Barrett fight on ppv this past weekend? If so, give us your thoughts on the fight itself and how both fighters performed.

CT: Yeah I watched it for sure. I have been a Tua fan since before he went to the Barcelona games. Tua has been my idol and he's a HUGE part of why I got into the boxing game. So it was sad and it destroyed me to watch him perform the way he did, especially being dropped, I mean that really does show everyone is human but that is a very faded and very tired Tua we saw last weekend. I don’t care what anyone says; Dave is 37 now, yes he hasn’t been in any great wars other than Ibeabuchi so people claim he's a young 37. But it's the years of hard graft in the gym, sparring and fights taking their toll. I think the brain is telling him to do one thing but the body isn’t following suit. Not taking anything away from Barrett he fought the right fight, and proved what a warrior he is. Barrett turned up to this fight!

In your opinion, can David Tua overcome this disappointing outcome and go on to pose a threat to the heavyweight champions?

CT: He won't be posing any threats to the current champions other than a lucky punch. If I were in the Tua camp I'd be looking at setting up a farewell fight in New Zealand for David, perhaps Tua vs Rahman III or something of the like, then calling it a day. The people around him have to tell him the truth and save him from himself. It's time to retire David. Have a retirement fight and bow out with your head held high.

A fighter that you are familiar with, Chauncy "The Hillyard Hammer" Welliver, has recently called out David Tua in hopes of securing a fight with him later on this year. Your thoughts on Welliver and how a fight between him and Tua would play out?

CT: Chauncy is a good friend of mine and has fought on my promotions in the past. They are at two different stages of their careers right now; Chauncy is still young and on the way up, Dave is on the way out. The fight makes perfect sense to be staged in New Zealand and is a good fight for Chauncy going by the evidence of last weekend. Chauncy is ranked #10 by the WBO and David #2. The winner would almost certainly be in line for a title shot. Right now I can see Chauncy outboxing and outworking David, so long as Chauncy can navigate himself through the first 3 or 4 rounds where David can still be dangerous.

As a promoter, from a business point of view, does this fight make sense? Both Tua and Welliver are huge in New Zealand and a fight between them could do big numbers over there I should think...

CT: The fight makes perfect sense for both. David now needs to come back and win impressively to not only boost his own confidence but that of the big promoters and TV networks, but a win over Chauncy, a top 10 WBO ranked heavyweight, gives him credit with the WBO also. For Chauncy, it's a massve opportunity. Should he win it he’d basically be knocking at the door of a heavyweight world title fight. Everything would be on the line in this fight. David would HAVE to retire should he loose to Chauncy. And both guys, especially Daivd of course, are well known names in New Zealand. It’d do well.

Thank you for your time Craig. Any final message to the readers?

CT: I'd just like to thank the fans for taking time out to read this interview. It's always a pleasure speaking to you Charles, I hope to do so more in the future. Watch out for the July 22nd promotion and keep a close eye on the movements of Jameson Bostic, Clarence Tillman, Vaitele Soi and Warren Fuiava!

For questions and comments, or to schedule an interview, Charles C. White can be reached at or 360-333-5911.

Article posted on 21.07.2010

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