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Exclusive Interview: Al Bonanni Talks Cloud-Campillo, Cleverly, Hopkins, Dawson and More

By James Slater - IBF light-heavyweight king Tavoris Cloud, 24-0(19) won a close, controversial decision over tricky southpaw Gabriel Campillo last time out. The all-action Floridian took, and is still taking, a lot of stick for the verdict that went his way, yet the 30-year-old moves on to his next fight.

Al Bonanni, Cloud’s trainer, kindly took the time out to speak with me yesterday evening, when he spoke about the forthcoming plans for the unbeaten 175-pounder.

Here is what Al had to say:

James Slater: It’s great to be able to speak with you, Al - I know you are a busy man. First of all, what’s your take on Tavoris’ win over Gabriel Campillo? People are still moaning about that split decision..

Al Bonanni: I thought we won the fight. Tavoris had that big 1st-round, where he won by a three point margin because of the knockdowns. Also, Cloud had significant rounds; the 4th, the 6th and the 12th. Also there were some very close rounds. I think Campillo had a case for winning seven rounds to our five, but we had that big opening round in our favour. But I commend Campillo on fighting a very good fight. But at the same time, people don’t give Tavoris enough credit: he out-jabbed Campillo, he made the fight, like he always does, and he went right after the challenger as though he were the challenger. Campillo is a cute fighter; very tricky. Not our first choice of opponent, but Zsolt Erdei, which would have been a better fight for the viewers, he made some weak excuse about his hand and pulled out.

J.S: Was Tavoris happy with his performance?

A.B: Well, he’s happy he’s still champion. He’s certainly not down. He said right away afterwards that he felt he’d won the fight. But he knows he wasn’t himself, and I know that - he wasn’t himself and that’s all I’m gonna say. I think part of the problem was the delay; four months in camp is a very long camp; way too long in fact. I think Tavoris was a little stale. Strangely enough, Tavoris wanted to be back in camp already. I told him to relax with his family and to get back in around three weeks. He suffered some cuts in the Campillo fight but the stitches are out now. He can begin sparring in eight to nine weeks and be ready to fight again after maybe 14 weeks. I want him back by May or June at the latest.

J.S: I know Tavoris has had long spells of inactivity - right after he beat Clinton Woods for the IBF belt in August of 2009, he has only had four fights. Is it because people are avoiding him?

A.B: People were avoiding him. We had a contract to fight Chad Dawson, but Dawson gave up the belt rather than fight us. Now Dawson’s calling us out. Maybe this fight [against Campillo] will work out for the best, in that people will think Tavoris is human now.

J.S: Nathan Cleverly, the WBO champ, has expressed a lot of interest in fighting Cloud. Could that fight happen?

A.B: Absolutely. I have all the respect for Cleverly; he’s young, strong and talented. I like his promoter, Frank Warren, so we can definitely do the fight. But we have out mandatory next, our IBF mandatory. We must face Karo Murat. Don King and Sauerland are negotiating this fight now, but if we can’t agree it will go to purse bids. If the fight gets signed for Germany, I think we will train in Europe for this fight. We will start in Florida and then go to Europe, maybe Italy where I have a house. But then we’d love to fight Cleverly. It would be a great fight for the fans, between two right handed fighters who both come to fight, and it would be a unification fight. The U.K and the U.S have a long history of fighting against one another - all the way back to Gus Lesnevich against Freddie Mills. So we could do the fight either in the U.K or Cleverly could come over to the U.S. Call Frank [Warren] and tell him I’d like to have some fish and chips! (laughs).

J.S: Is there no chance of a rematch with Campillo?

A.B: I’m sure Campillo would fight another great fight in a return, but right now we are moving on, to our mandatory - we have to take that fight as per the IBF rules; which we are going to obey. But after that we’ll see what’s out there. But a fight with Cleverly really makes sense. It would be a lot better a fight for the viewers compared to the Campillo fight. Campillo ran a lot and a lot of his punches were ineffective and landed on the gloves. Like I said, Cloud out-jabbed him 3-1.

J.S: Can I ask you how you see Hopkins-Dawson II going on April 28th?

A.B: Hopkins is a guy we’d love to fight, but he has openly said he will not fight Tavoris. You know, Dawson is a prohibitive favourite to beat Hopkins in the rematch. In Las Vegas, at some bookmakers, he is as wide as a 12-1 favourite. I can’t see that, but I have to make Dawson a slight favourite- maybe 2-1. I really don’t want to see the fight; I don’t think it will be good for the viewers, more of a boring fight or a wrestling fight. I think Hopkins will be a definite Hall of Famer, but I think he should have retired. He has proven all he has to prove. I know Bernard well; as I had Freddie Pendleton in Philly a while back, but he should retire I think. I have him as the underdog because of Dawson’s age and everything, but Hopkins could maybe pull it off. But he’s said that afterwards, if he wins, he’ll fight Cleverly or [Beibut] Shumenov next. I guess he feels he’d be able to outwit them. But he won’t fight Tavoris.

J.S: It’s always a pleasure to speak with you, Al. I’m a big Cloud fan - I think he should be a star with his exciting style.

A.B: Thank you.

Article posted on 02.03.2012



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