Exclusive Interview With IBF Light-Heavyweight King Tavoris Cloud - ďI Am The Best 175-Pounder, Hands Down!Ē

By James Slater - Unbeaten, aggressive and highly exciting to watch, IBF light-heavyweight ruler Tavoris Cloud wants so much to unify the titles at 175-pounds. Currently 21-0(18) the Floridian must first make a successful second defence of his belt, against Colombian puncher Fulgencio Zuniga in December (no easy fight says Cloudís trainer, Al Bonani - ďhe was struggling to make 168, so the weight will help him,Ē he told me when speaking about the Dec. 17th challenger).

If Cloud comes through okay next month, he will then look to begin collecting the major belts in his weight division. Cloud, confident but not arrogant, already feels he is the best in the world at the weight..

Very kindly taking the time to speak to me from the gym earlier today, the easygoing 28-year-old had the following answers to my questions:

James Slater: Itís great to speak with you, Champ. First of all, how has camp been so far for the fight with Fulgencio Zuniga? I asked your trainer Al, if he thinks youíll walk right through him, and he said no, that you are training for a guy ready to give a life and death performance against you. Is that your mindset also?

Tavoris Cloud: Trainingís been good. We working hard; we working harder in each training camp, improving my conditioning and my skills. I look at the fight like this: any fighterís dangerous. Iím definitely taking this fight seriously. But what I do know about him is, he throws a lot of wide punches, so Iíll be looking to capitalise on that.

J.S: You will be boxing on a big show, with the WBC heavyweight elimination bout - will you look to steal the show with a great performance?

T.C: I always look to steal the show. Maybe I will be able to steal the show without trying. But I will be giving it a 100-percent. I have a crowd-pleasing style, and the show will be stolen!

J.S: Your last fight, the points win over Glen Johnson, was that your toughest fight to date?

T.C: Yes, it was my toughest fight. But I still got the win, and with all the layoffs Iíd had (just one fight since Aug. 2008 going into the fight with Johnson), I think if Iíd been fighting regular I might have gotten him out of there - or at least made the fight so it wasnít as close.

J.S: You did win a unanimous decision. In light of how Johnson came back and stopped Allan Green, proving he is now way done yet, was that your most satisfying win so far?

T.C: I think winning the (IBF) world title was more personal for me, and more emotional. But it [the win over Johnson] was a good win for me. I learned a lot in that fight, and it made be a better fighter.

J.S: Itís no secret you want all the big names at 175. I know you wanted a fight with Chad Dawson for a long time. Is he still on your radar, now that heís been beaten?

T.V: Heís still on the radar, but heís not as high as he was. As of now, he doesnít have a title, but if itís a fight the fans want, I would love to give it to them. But right now he brings nothing to the table. You know, the fight has to make business sense.

J.S: Who would you most like to fight next, after youíve beaten Zuniga?

T.C: Iíd like [Jean] Pascal, [Beibut] Shumenov - any of the other title holders. Iíll come to any country, we will travel to unify, and Iíll come and take those belts. Just put the money down and letís make the fights.

J.S: Who wins out of Pascal and Bernard Hopkins?

T.C: As far as keeping the division youthful and exciting, I hope Pascal wins. But Hopkins is so smart, so you never know. He might be able to use the psychological warfare on him. Iím looking forward to a Cloud-Pascal fight much more than a Cloud-Hopkins fight though.

J.S: Just a word about Nathan Cleverly of Wales. You and he have sort of been in a war of words just lately. Cleverly has yet to achieve as much as you have, he has yet to win a world title - but would you like to fight him one day? Or does he have to prove himself more first?

T.C: Yeah, I think he has to do more first. Heís not a world champion yet. But heís hallucinating if he thinks he can beat me! Put down the drugs (laughs)! (on the subject of a possible Cloud-Cleverly fight, Al Bonani told me before the interview that Team-Cloud would definitely come to Wales. ďIím friends with [Cleverly promoter] Frank Warren. If Cleverly can beat [Juergen] Braehmer for the WBO title, we can have him fight Cloud in a unification fight,Ē Al said.)

J.S: You mentioned your fan-friendly style, and you are great to watch. Do you pride yourself on pleasing the fans, and will you always fight the way you do, whoever you fight?

T.C: Yeah, thatís the way Iíll always be. If I ever become different, if Iím not able to give it 100-percent, Iíll have to look at not doing this anymore. Iím just aggressive, and I want to make a statement in each fight.

J.S: Youíll be aggressive against Zuniga, taking the fight right to him?

T.C: Oh yeah, we gonna take it to him! Iíll be like his daddy coming home from work, whupping his ass (laughs).

J.S: Do you feel you will get a KO?

T.C: I never predict a KO, but if he comes at me, yeah, he will probably get knocked out.

J.S: Are you at your peak now at age 28, or will that come later?

T.C: Iím not at my peak. When I get to fighting more regularly, then Iíll be at my tiptop peak. Iím still getting better and better.

J.S: Do you see yourself staying at light-heavyweight your entire career? Do you think, like Marvin Hagler was a natural middleweight who never moved weights, you are a natural in your current division?

T.C: As long as I can make 175, Iíll stay at 175. If the day comes when I canít make it, Iíll move up. But 175 is my division. Ever since I was an amateur Iíve been a light-heavyweight. I love this division, some great fighters have come through this division - Michael Spinks and Evander Holyfield. Iím a natural 175-pounder and Iím gonna show them all Iím the man here!

J.S: Itís been great speaking with you, Tavoris. For my final question: aside from yourself, who is the best 175-pounder in the world right now?

T.C: Iím the best!

J.S: Aside from yourself?

T.C: Iím the best. Iím the best hands down! The only other light-heavyweight out there is my wife, Eileen (laughs).

J.S: Thanks so much for your time, we hope to see you in those big fights that you deserve in 2011.

T.C: Okay, thanks a lot.

Article posted on 12.11.2010

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