John Scully, known as “Iceman” was a light heavyweight prize fighter from 1988 to 2001 with an impressive professional resume of 38-11-21 KOs. During his career he sparred some of the greats such as Roy Jones Jr, Vinny Pazienza and James Toney. Very well known in the boxing world and highly respected, John Scully is an experienced sports analyst for ESPN classic network and is also a boxing trainer. He is soon to release a book, written in his own words and not ghost written, will tell his story of boxing as it really is. As a foretaste, this unique exclusive interview which follows will give readers a greater insight into the life of John Scully.
WV: What was the sole impetus in you wanting to become a professional boxer? What ignited your passion in wanting to be a prize fighter?
I started boxing when I was around 12 years old, simply because I wanted to have a real ring to go to so I could pretend I was Muhammad Ali in it. I wanted to use real gloves and a mouthpiece, and I wanted to box against another person instead of against myself in the mirror in my father’s room. Everything that came about right up until this very moment was born from that idea.
WV: From 1985-1988 you won four Golden Gloves titles in a row. Can you tell us more about this? And was this the momentum which drove you into wanting to turn professional?
The Golden Gloves in my area of the country was a huge event every year at that time and the tournament was very high profile and competitive. The competition was fierce, and the press coverage was heavy. Everyone knew about the Golden Gloves and they became my very first big goal in the boxing game. Thoughts of turning professional came much later as I got closer to maybe making the 1998 Olympic team. Early on, though, the Golden Gloves was bigger than anything in my life up to that point.
WV: You had an amateur career of fifty seven wins and thirteen losses. Do any fights stand out in your mind? And if you were really going into detail, how many fights do you believe a fighter should have before they turn pro?
I have three fights as an amateur that stand out in big, big ways for me and I detail them each in my book, “The Iceman Diaries”. For different reasons, they were all huge moments in my life. Not just in boxing, but in my life as a whole. To be specific, they were fights against Kertis Mingo in the finals on the 1987 National PAL tournament, a fight against Otis Grant in Montreal in 1988, and another against Darin Allen in the finals of the 1988 Eastern Olympic trials. Those three fights helped shape me into the man I am right now today.
WV: Your professional career spans from 1988-2001 with a record of 38 wins and 11 losses. Which are the stand out fights you remember, and who do you believe was your toughest ever opponent and why?
I have different fights that stand out for different reasons. Fights with Alphonso Bailey, Art Baylis and Michael Nunn stand out to me as defining fights in my mind, maybe for reasons all of my own, but that’s what they were. I faced many tough opponents in the ring but in my mind the business of boxing, the act of boxing, the preparation to actually fight, was tougher mentally than any human I ever faced in a ring. Being a pro and trying to succeed as one with all that it entails is a mental struggle like very few others.
WV: You fought in a title fight with Michael Nunn. The judges gave the fight to Nunn in a unanimous decision. Do you think this was a fair decision? Harold Gomes had a suspect wide scorecard. Thoughts on this?
It was a very good fight, I was proud of it. I am proud of it. I stepped up. Could have done a few things differently but the deck was stacked against me and that fight maybe shows how the business of boxing in a nutshell can work for or against someone. I may have deserved it, I may have deserved a draw, it was a close fight. I deserved better than I got from those guys though. Mr. Gomes, I’ve never spoken to the man, never got his take on it. But after all this time, it doesn’t matter to me anymore. Human nature and expectation come into play with judges sometimes, I assume. Maybe he didn’t expect me to land the types of punches I did, maybe he didn’t expect my defence to be as good as it was that night. I really didn’t get hit cleanly with many punches that night. I was on point in many areas of the game and maybe he didn’t expect that to be the case. But it was. I deserved better.
WV: This year’s decisions and judges have been under much public scrutiny. For instance, with Adelaide Byrd. Do you think there is foul play going on? And was it just the same in the days when you fought?
It’s been this way throughout history. Judges are human, of course. They get older. They have mental lapses. They have biases. They have preordained things they like and do not like. Sometimes the outcome of a fight may simply be determined by the luck of the draw of judges. Take the three judges who decided Whitaker and Chavez was a draw back in 1993, for example. Those were the the people chosen to work the fight. You pick the next three officials in line and history may have been written differently.
WV: Could you tell us about your book? What we could have in store when reading it? And where could we purchase it from?
I believe my book is the real deal. I believe people who read it will get their first real live look into the mind of a boxer and all that goes on in there, not with any disrespect to every boxing book I’ve ever read that was written by a fighter. The biggest difference between mine and theirs is that mine is written one hundred percent by the fighter, by me. When you read all the big stars’ books it is a thing where they have someone helping them writing it and they are editing it and changing words around and the stories are getting that shiny, glossy coat for mass consumption. Mine isn’t going to be like that. My content will stay one thousand percent true to the game of boxing and to the fighters who make the game what it is. I speak for them with this, so I have to do it so that they, more than anyone else will appreciate and respect it.
WV: Okay, now for the fight everybody is now looking forward to and wants to see. Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder. Do you see the fight happening? If so, where? And how would it go in your eyes?
I must assume the fight is going to happen. It’s the next big heavyweight clash and they are obviously on course to face each other. I’m assuming it will be on in the U.K. because there is no doubt that not only would it be a massive sell out over there and I’m thinking they may even actually have a real chance to break the all-time attendance record. The people in the U.K. know how to treat a big fight, that’s for sure.
I would put A.J. as the favourite, but I’m sure Mark Breland will be working hard with Wilder to straighten out his punches and get his jab going a little more actively and sharper. Wilder has the tools, but they need to come together for this fight more than any other right now.
“The wait in the dressing room before a professional boxing match, that last hour, could be enough to strip a man who never fought before of whatever pride, desire, heart or courage he thought he had”. John Scully, 2002.