ESB exclusive Interview with Brian Minto: 'Success is a side effect'
08.02.06 - By Troy Ondrizek, photo © BrianMinto.com: Brian Minto is a fighter made famous by beating a big-punching club fighter named Vinny Maddalone. Minto survived a war with Maddalone in their first meeting, by knocking out the brawler in the final round, after being floored himself, and way behind on the cards. Minto followed that spectacular showing up with a split decision loss to his grandfatherÖ my bad, I mean Tony Tubbs. Minto has stated in the past that that fight wasnít right for him at the time, but he also remarked that he needs no excuses, just to accept it and move on. Brian has always had his critics about his skills and size, but he is a ďlearn as you goĒ type of fighter, who continues to improve in the ring. A perfect example of that improvement is his one-sided demolition of Maddalone in their second fight back in October. People might complain about Brianís loss to Tubbs, or that he should go down to cruiserweight because heís only 5í11í. Well, people will always talk about that; mainly because Brian has left them nothing else to complain about. However, Brian himself is full of words regarding his career, past, present, and future; and the state of the heavyweight division, and where it and he are going. I had the pleasure to interview Brian; that actually was more of a continuous conversation that had questions scattered throughout it. Here is what Minto had to say..
Article posted on 08.02.2006
Troy: Hey Brian. You last talked with us back in October; your interview then with Greg Smith covered everything leading up to your career; so Iíll focus on now and the future. Your fight with Andy Sample fell through; why was that?
Minto: I think he just failed his physical. It was like a half hour until the fight, and I was told that he couldnít fight. I was disappointed; there were several reporters and television personnel out there that I wouldíve liked to perform in front of.
Troy: There was a rumor of you fighting Chauncy Welliver; is there any truth to this?
Minto: Yes there is. We are looking for a television date for this fight. I think something like an ESPN fight. My promoter (Dino Duva) called me about it, and I was happy to do it. Iíve never seen him, but he has a good record. I think the only problem is that he might price himself out of the fight. Dino told me he was asking for a whole lot of money, and there simply isnít a lot of money in ESPN fights.
Troy: Now Chauncy has stated on other websites that you backed because you were injured, what have you injured?
Minto: What? That is a load of crap. Iím not injured at all. I donít know where he got that excuse. Maybe itís because he thinks heís worth more than he really is. Thatís why it hasnít been signed yet.
Troy: Brian, instead of fighting the punching bags like Weida and Welliver; why donít you fight someone young with a recognizable name and good record like Malik Scott or Eddie Chambers?
Minto: I am looking for a big fight. I know the fights since Maddalone have been against bums, but they are ďkeep busyĒ fights. I want a big fight, and Duva says he is looking for one for me. Shannon Briggs would be a nice fight. In fact I read on your site that the fight between him and Tua is off. What happened with that?
Troy: It had to do with Tua wanting more tune-up fights.
Minto: Troy I would be very interested in fighting Tua. His style is perfect for me. It would be a great name for me to fight. He is someone I can beat.
Troy: How do you think you would beat David Tua?
Minto: Itís obvious that I wouldnít stand directly in front of him. I would use my boxing skills; since I have noticed that good boxers that stay away from his power and keep him moving have good success against him. I would fight him like Chris Byrd did. I wonder if we can make that fight.
Troy: That would be an interesting fight indeed. Styles make fights, and your style is to put on pressure. Besides that fight, are there any other big fights you think you can make?
Minto: Like I said, I would like to fight Shannon Briggs, or maybe the loser between him and Koval. I donít know. Iíll fight anybody; you know you have to take a chance to further your career. Hard work and constant training have made me better and more marketable. Success is just a side effect of what I have been doing. I thought I would get more fights with HBO after my fight with Maddalone, but nothing has materialized. I just will leave it up to Dino to get me in there and make some quality bouts. I am ready physically and mentally for a big fight.
Troy: Speaking of Duva, what has he done to progress your career?
Minto: He said on some web sites that I am ready for a big fight, and that he is trying to get me in there. I do believe that he is working hard for a big fight, but so many fighters fight so infrequently that big fights are far in between. So that has actually given me the opportunity to fight as often as I have, and to develop my skills and put myself into a position to fight for a title.
Troy: With Duva trying to get a big fight, why should fight fans want to see you fight?
Minto: My boxing skills have developed greatly under Tom (Yankello). He has taught me how to defend myself better, and how to move in the ring. He is a very hands-on type of trainer. Tom gets into the ring with us to do mitts, and is always in there instructing us during sparring. So because of him, I am a vastly better boxer than before, I also know how to use the ring, and I can punch. Iím not the best boxer out there, but I am learning and I will fight anybody.
Troy: How did you get together with Tommy Yankello?
Minto: My manger (Pat Nelson) and I were looking for trainers to give me some boxing skills. I was like 10-0, and I knew I needed a better trainer to get me further. Tomís gym is a forty-five minute drive from Butler Pennsylvania where I live. He has always been there, and I knew about it. I finally broke down and went there. He has transformed me as a fighter, and given the ability to box. We study old tapes. Fighters like Mike Tyson and Roberto Duran. I love Duran; he was so slick and effortless in there. I try to mimic him in the ring.
Troy: Do you have any success in mimicking him?
Minto: Yeah I like to think so, but weíll see. Tom is a throw back trainer. He really teaches that style of fighting. It has gone away, fighters just donít stay in there and fight. There are not many heavyweights who can do what Duran did.
Troy: What about James Toney? His style is similar in some respects.
Minto: I agree with that. Tom loves how Toney fights. He often shows me tapes of him. Toney stands in there flat-footed, and rolls with the punches. He is so patient and picks his shots perfectly. I am learning to fight like that. Tom stresses that I fight like that.
Troy: As we have talked about earlier, big fights have eluded you, partly due to availability, and partly due to marketability. So with that being said; the cruiserweight division is arguably the deepest in boxing. So is there any interest for you going down to that division and fighting some marquee fights?
Minto: That is something people always ask me. To be honest I mad 199lbs once. When I was that weight I felt sick and weak. Itís just not natural for me. However, if I was able to get a title fight with Bell or a big fight with someone like Mormeck, sure, if the money is right. Itís just not natural for my body, so it would take a little extra encouraging if you know what I mean. You are right, the talent is there, and those guys can punch too. Now I know I will catch some flack for saying it boils down to money. Calvin did an interview with you and got blasted for his comments. The truth is itís always about money. We donít have a consistent income like most people do. Plus our job is to get punched for a living, so injury plays a role in that. Calvin is a business man, and he does well for his future, but people want him to fight someone better than Zuri Lawrence. I can understand that.
Troy: Well you just led me to another question of mine; one regarding your stable-mate in Calvin Brock. Who do you think would win between the two of you if you stepped into the ring against one another?
Minto: Troy you know that fight wouldnít happen. We are too good of friends. He is a real good boxer and has helped my career as far as giving me great competition to spar against. I donít know, if the money was right we would out it together, but we have sparred so much that it would be a great fight. Maybe Tom would be in the middle of the ring yelling at us to get us going and for what to do.
Troy: So what other top talent have you sparred with to help your career?
Minto: Troy, really no other top talent. Robert Davis is a good fighter I have sparred with, but I wouldnít say he is a top fighter. I got a call to spar with Audley Harrison for the Danny Williams, but said no. Donít get me wrong, Audley has great skills, but he doesnít have heart, and I donít want to be anybodyís sparring partner. I donít want to get in that state of mind. I am a fighter who will spar with people to get better, but I donít spar for a paycheck, and fight on the side. You know what Iím saying?
Troy: Since Duva is looking for a fight to set you up for a title shot; what is the timetable for you to get a title shot?
Minto: I would love to do it this year, but I doubt it will come that fast. There was a proposed fight with Antonio Tarver that wouldíve put me closer, but he decided against it and went after Mike Tyson instead.
Troy: A fight with Antonio Tarver, when did this come about? And how would you fight him?
Minto; It was when he first said he was going to turn to heavyweight. Right after the last Jones fight. I would pressure him, he is getting old, and he is small. Jones ran from him, it was pathetic how he fought Tarver in their last fight. I think Jones always had a suspect chin, but was too quick to get hit in it. I would definitely pressure Tarver like Johnson did, but Iím stronger than Johnson and Tarver hasnít faced heavyweight power. They say he walks around at 210lbs, but I doubt it. He has small shoulders and is lanky. I donít know how he makes 175lbs. The fight was dropped because he wanted a bigger payday. Thatís fine, for him, Tyson said no to the fight, but if it happened Tyson would kill him.
Troy: Alright Brian, to wrap this up, what do you have to say for your fans?
Minto: Well Troy, 2006 will be my year. I will be a lot closer to my career goals. I will have exciting fights for the fans, and thank you for the time to talk.
Brian is as honest a fighter as one will find. There were some parts left out because of their lack of relevance to the interview and the fact that they werenít even questions or responses to questions, more like just conversation. Brian is ready to take on the best the division has to offer; he feels he can defeat them and be champion. Time and results will determine if that is true. Most will say he isnít ready, or isnít capable, and Brian understands that. He is just asking us to be patient and to let him prove us right or wrong. I for one am awaiting his emergence as a contender, and see if success will be the final result of all his hard work.
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