Exclusive Interview with Washington State Heavyweight Prospect Jonte "Rock Steady" Willis
Exclusive Interview by Charles White: Heavyweight boxing prospect Jonte "Rock Steady" Willis (8-1-1 with 3 knockouts) speaks out on his boxing career, his most recent victory over Gary Gomez, and his thoughts on the current state of the heavyweight division...
Article posted on 15.08.2011
How are you doing today Jonte?
JW: Actually pretty shabby (laughs), But bitter sweet!
Let's start at the beginning; how did you first get your start in boxing?
JW: I just walked into the Tacoma Boys Club one day, and felt like it was a new start for me!
You have an extensive amateur career, even becoming the 2006 U.S. National champion, and both the 2007 Tacoma Golden Gloves champion and 2007 Nevada Golden Gloves champion. What was your overall amateur record?
JW: My amateur record was 43-11 with 25 wins by knockout!
You fought some big names in the amateurs, including Odlanier Solis, Michael Hunter Jr, Mike Wilson, and Kimdo Bethel. Tell us about these experiences and what you took away from them.
JW: First off with Mike Wilson, I realized it does not matter what race you are to be a good boxer. With Mike Hunter I had to learn patience to fight him, because he is a very wild fighter. Kimdo Bethel, I felt like I won that match, but did not get the decision. I really did not learn anything from that fight! But for what it's worth he was an Olympic alternate. I missed the Olympic Trials by losing a tie breaker to him! Bethel did beat Mike Wilson twice in the Olympic Trials. Regarding Solis I had had only about 20 amateur fights at the time of our meeting. I learned a lot being in there with him, because he was a world champion. I did very well against him.
If you had to pick one moment or accomplishment from your entire amateur career that means the most to you, what would it be?
JW: Receiving the news I had actually won the US National Championship, after initially losing it in the ring to Mike Wilson.
Are you still trained by 2000 U.S. Olympic coach Tom Mustin, and if so, how does having him in the picture help to build a complete fighter in you?
JW: I am no longer training with Tom Mustin, after my second pro fight. I still keep in contact with him, and train at his gym every so often. We still have a very good realtionship, and I occasionally still get pointers from him!
Your amateur experience is key in your transition to the pro ranks. How do you feel you are making this transition so far? Does your amateur style transition well into the pros, or have you had to change your style since your pro debut?
JW: Not much of a change, the only exception is that it is better at the end of a fight to get cash rather than just going home with a trophy.
What does a typical day of training look like for you?
JW: Training for pro boxing is a full time job meaning I get up and run in the morning, put in 3 to 4 miles. Then I go to the gym and do boxing workouts, which includes 6 to 8 rounds of sparring and 5 to 7 on the heavybag. I include weight training and other cross training techniques as well.
It has been brought to my attention that you are the cousin of San Francisco 49er's Linebacker Patrick Willis (#52), so obviously athletic ability is prevalent in your family. My question is, do you incorporate any other sports, such as football, into your training to stay in shape inbetween fights?
JW: I do try and include plenty of cross training, from football to MMA workouts, into my boxing regime.
I was present at your fight with Corey Williams back in April, and I was impressed by your handspeed and body attack. How would you describe your style to the readers?
JW: I consider myself a boxer-puncher, at times I get unorthodoxed to confuse my opponents.
Congratulations on your victory over Gary Gomez (now 19-12-2 with 7 knockouts). Tell us about the fight and what a win such as this does for your career...
JW: Thank you Charlie White! Beating a well-traveled veteran just as Gomez, mentally it helps me to realize I can compete well at that higher level! I believe this victory will open some doors for me given the fact I had suffered my first defeat two months ago. Feels good to be back!
Would you say that this was your toughest challenge to date?
JW: By far Gomez was my toughest fight! He came to win, and I was able to turn back his challenge.
This was your first fight back since your upset to Shane Andreesen (11-3 with 7 knockouts). What does it take for a fighter such as yourself to come back both mentally and physically prepared after a first loss?
JW: True fighters never quit! The agony of defeat to a true fighter, is never a fun moment. But the will to win, and to stay a winner drives me to do greater things! And one loss does not make (or break) a career!
So what's next for you Jonte? Anybody on your radar or perhaps another fight already lined up?
JW: Nothing on the current radar screen, I just want to enjoy this victory! In due time I am sure the NW fans would want to see myself and another NW prospect to have our moment!
This is an exciting time for Washington State based heavyweights with some young guys such as yourself, Vincent Thompson (8-0 with 2 ko's), Skyler Anderson (16-1-1 with 10 ko's), and top 10 world heavyweight contender Chauncy Welliver (49-5-5 with 19 knockouts), among others. How do you rate these guys and do you consider yourself to be right at the top of Washington heavyweight scene?
JW: First off I respect all fighters! That being said, I do believe I am the best in the NW! If I had to rank the NW heavyweights it would be Chauncy Welliver, because I have not fought him yet, and he has proven himself to be a world contender. I rate myself next, because I am a growing prospect, and I do not have a padded record! I have fought tough everytime out! Vincent Thompson up next, because he has gotten himself to a nice 8-0 record. But as far as competition, I don't think he has been tested yet. Skyler Anderson is kinda missing in action, because he has not fought in over a year, so not much to say.
At 5' 11'' and roughly 207-214 lbs, you have fought and beat some big guys in your first few fights. Are you content in dealing with these big guys, or would you ever consider a drop down to cruiserweight?
JW: I've considered dropping down to Cruiserweight and I'm asked often about it, but I feel like I can compete with the big boys and enjoy doing so.
What are you hoping to achieve in your pro boxing career? Is this a career that will see you all the way to a heavyweight title shot?
JW: Yes Charlie, I believe that in time, that my work ethtic and proper management will see me through to a world title shot!
How long before we see you in the top 10? You still have plenty of time to develop at age 26.
JW: First off Charlie I will be 28 in October (laughs)! But thanks I think I look good also (laughs)! I would like to see myself in the Top 10 ranks within the next 2 and a half years. I have suffered a few tough injuries over the last few years, and think I would have already cracked the Top 10 without those!
What are your thoughts on the current state of the heavyweight division and where do you see yourself in the mix a couple of years down the road?
JW: The Heavyweight Division is NOT as wide open as people think! Reason being, it's very apparent that the Klitschko brothers are dominating the division. As far as me being in good health and at the top of my game, I see myself within reach of the belts!
Thank you for your time Jonte. Any final message for the fans?
JW: Thank you Charlie for the interview! For the fans I would like to say, I am sorry for my lackluster performance two months ago.against Andreesen! And thank you for still being my number one supporters! I could not do this without you!
For questions and comments, to schedule an interview, or to just chat about boxing, Charles White can be reached at email@example.com or 360-333-5911.
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