ESB speaks with Rico Hoye

28.11.06 - Interview by Geoff McKay: Rico Hoye, fresh off a 10th round TKO over journeyman Sam Hill, sat down with ESB to chat about the fight, his future, his new trainer, and the light heavyweight division in general. Hoye rose quickly into title contention, with wins over the likes of Prince Badi Ajamu, and Montell Griffin.

He hit a stumbling block however, when, in only his 19th pro fight, he faced Clinton wood for the vacant IBF light heavyweight title. Since the loss, Hoye has been on the comeback trail with back to back wins. Here is what he had to say.

ESB: Hello Rico.

RH: Hey, how you doing?

ESB: Good, how about you?

RH: Iím doing pretty good; I just finished with my training for the day.

ESB: Can you take us through the Sam Hill fight? Did that turn out as expected?

RH: It pretty much did. Around the sixth round I dropped him with a body shot. I pretty much thought I was going to be able to finish him off but he survived to the tenth round. I was more so pleased that I, you know, I hadnít fought in nine, ten months so I got some rounds in and I got the stoppage so it was a good night for me I think.

ESB: How have things changed with Shadeed Suluki in your corner?

RH: More than anything, I think the most important aspect of it, is that he brought me back to my beginnings in boxing, you know. My father, my Grandfather, they were boxers and they were slick boxers, and thatís pretty much what Shadeed helped me with. Just getting back to what I know and thatís just boxing smart.

ESB: Interesting, youíre a third generation boxer.

RH: Oh, yeah, and my uncles, my whole family boxed. (Laughs)

ESB: In terms of your career, are you ready now to take on the tops guys, or would you like a couple more fights before you step up?

RH: Definitely Iím a fighter, so I would be like, lets fight the best out there, but I think from a team standpoint, we all agree that, you know, one more fight to make sure that the ring rust if off, and then we are ready to step back in there with anybody in the world.

One more fight and Iíll be ready to take on anybody in the world.

ESB: Any idea who your next opponent may be?

RH: Actually no, I havenít heard anything as of yet. Iím pretty sure that were fighting on a Golden Boy card, so, you know, I got faith in them that theyíll find somebody for me and it will be the right opponent. Iím not concerned. I just concerned right now with staying in the gym and when they make their call Iím ready.

ESB: After the Clinton Woods fight that you mentioned that you learned boxing was a business, and if things werenít right for you the best thing to do was move on. What did you mean by that?

RH: Pretty much, the situation was, well, itís kind of long to explain but Iíll try to give you the short version. At the time my coach, my head trainer was a gentleman by the name of Danny Smith, and he took upon the task of training Fernando Vargas as well. All of his time and attention was going toward Vargas, and I wasnít receiving any at all while we were in camp. Wherever Vargas wanted to go, I mean I didnít have the money that he had, so, I mean, we had to make due with finding our own arrangements to go to training camp. He wanted to train on some island out here in California, Catalina, so, I mean, at the time I just wasnít getting the attention that I knew that I needed going into a big fight. Thatís what I was saying was, I knew from a boxing perspective, I wasnít ready to take that fight. I didnít get any sparring for that fight, no training for that fight, no bag work, no nothing. The only thing that I did every day was I made sure that I got up and I ran. Weíd come to the gym and Danny Smith would say, ďFernandoís on his way to the gym so you guys are going to have to hurry up and get up out of hereĒ. After the fight is really when I realized that you know, this is a business, and Iím telling everybody so it should be all about me. I should have just walked away and not taken that fight when I did. You live and you learn.

ESB: Sounds frustrating, being told to leave the gym in the middle of training.

RH: Oh, most definitely, it was a horrible situation, but like I say, I definitely learned from that experience, that if Iím going into a fight, and itís a big fight, or a small fight, and itís not right, just to walk away. I should have found somebody else to take upon that head trainer task when I started to realize that I wasnít going to get the attention that I needed.

ESB: I understand you really want a chance to rematch Clinton Woods, and clean up that loss.

RH: Aw man, aw man, you have no idea, you have no idea the bitter taste I have in my mouth from that fight. I just know, style wise, he doesnít match up to me. I just know if I was mentally ready going into that fight there would have been nothing that he could have done. It helped him, I believe, a little bit, to fight on his home turf. He had the referee to his advantage, the judges, I mean, everything was to his advantage going into that fight. If I could get any fight, thatís the fight I would want. I feel like Joe Louis when he fought Max Schmeling. I may win a world title but Iím not going to be champion until I clean my slate. Iím looking to be like Lennox. If Iím ever unfortunate enough to lose again, and right now Clinton Woods is my only loss, if I lose I want to fight the rematch. Iíve got to go, in my mind, undefeated, whoever I fight.

ESB: You have a big win over Prince Badi Ajamu. Would you give him another shot?

RH: Oh, I would definitely give Ajamu another opportunity. It definitely would have to make sense. Its like, when youíre climbing up the ladder. When youíre at a certain level, everybody is going to be gunning for you. Roy Jones was at the top, Tyson was at the top, when youíre at the top of the heap, everybody's is gunning for you. It would definitely have to make sense. Right now, a lot of fighters that are up and comers, they need me. If they get me and they win, then they got a big time name on their record. From a business standpoint it would definitely have to make sense for me to fight Ajamu again, but I mean if he had of beaten Roy Jones it would have been a hell of an opportunity for him to clean the slate with me.

ESB: Having been in the ring with Ajamu, how would you evaluate Roy Jonesí performance?

RH: To be completely honest with you I didnít think Prince had an opportunity in that fight at all. Style wise, Roy is a mover, heís fast, and when I fought him (Ajamu) thatís what he had problems with. When I stood there and tried to bang with him toe to toe is when he caught me with a decent punch, but after that I won every round after that. I moved and I boxed him, I kept my jab in his face, I got my shots off and I got out of there, and I knew thatís was going to be Royís game plan, and Prince didnít have a chance in that fight. Heís flat footed and slow.

ESB: Where do you think Antonio Tarver goes from here, after seeing his loss to Hopkins?

RH: Again, from a fighter, heís in my division, I never saw anything in Antonio Tarver, you know, even from the amateurs. He was a decent enough amateur to make the Olympic team, but style wise he never impressed me. Heís not super fast, heís not super slick, heís just tall and long, and he has a defense and that left hand where, you know, if he catches you on the end of it heís going to knock you out. But going into the fight with Roy, I didnít every expect him to knock Roy out, nobody did. He got blessed that day, and that pretty much put him up there, but any other day I donít think he could fight with anybody that would move, like Bernard did, and was a sharp puncher. Bernardís a sharp puncher and heís a smart fighter, and I donít think intellectually Tarver can light a match next to those guys.

ESB: Anything you want to say in closing Rico?

RH: Thank you for supporting me, everyone who is on my side, and hopefully, God willing, Iíll make a big splash in 07, and for everybody out there thatís hating, you go on hating but your wasting your time.

ESB: Thanks Rico.

Article posted on 28.11.2006

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