This past Saturday in Kansas City, 38 year old Robert Simms proved to be too fast and too clever for heavyweight favourite Kenzie Morrison. Fighting the son of Tommy Morrison on a “Sons of Legends” card, Simms, by his own admission not in top shape, won an eight-round UD to take Morrison’s unbeaten record as well as the WBC United States heavyweight strap.
Now 12-3-1(3), the man from Saginaw is looking at his next move. Here, Simms kindly takes the time to speak with ESB:
Q: Congratulations on the win over Morrison. You said going in that if he cannot knock you out he cannot beat you.
Robert Simms: “Thanks. Yeah, I knew he didn’t do a good job….I really didn’t watch anything on him, as far as his fights, apart from the Hasim Rahman Jr fight, which I watched the day of the fight. My coaches were telling me things. I saw that he couldn’t throw punches without setting his feet. So I knew it’d be hard for him to land anything on me unless I was just standing there willing to take it.”
Q: Morrison did get home with some shots, did he ever hurt you?
R.S: “He caught me with one good shot. I can’t remember which round it was. But yeah, he caught me with one really good shot but I didn’t let him know it. I’m thinking it was maybe in the fifth or the sixth round.”
Q: It was a good card, with the “Sons of Legends” in action, although three of them lost, with Gerald McClellan Jr, Roberto Duran Jr and of course Morrison losing.
R.S: “Me and Duran’s son had a really good talk, maybe for about 40 minutes after the fight. I’ve got a really good relationship with him now. It was great meeting the son of somebody who I looked up to. He [Roberto Duran] wasn’t there himself but it was great talking with his son.”
Q: Why was your fight reduced from ten rounds to eight rounds, do you know?
R.S: “When they brought the fight to me, they said it would be for ten rounds and I signed on for that. Then, when I got the contract, it said eight rounds. It was something about the amount of time they had for TV, I think. But it wasn’t anything either of us asked for. I was ready for ten rounds.”
Q: Is this win the biggest for you so far?
R.S: “I think it’s the biggest as far as the recognition. But I still think Joe Cusumano was the biggest win of my career (Simms WU10 in June of 2018). He was on good run, headed to big-time championship fights, and I derailed that. So that got me noticed, this fight I think it put me on the boxing pages. But it wasn’t a really hard fight, it wasn’t a fight where I went in thinking I’d have a super-hard fight. I kinda knew I was gonna win this fight.”
Q: I know you’re still celebrating, but what next for you? The win over Morrison gets you ranked in the top-15, yes?
R.S: “Yes, that gets me ranked in the top-15 with the WBC now. What I really wanna do, because, over the pandemic I had a few injuries, stuff like that, that kind of took time away from me where I couldn’t train. I only trained three weeks for this fight. So what I wanna do is take good time to get myself back in the right shape, because I wasn’t in shape for this fight, I wasn’t myself. So I want to get back in shape, maybe get back to around 225 to 230 pounds, somewhere in there. But I want Oscar Rivas for the bridgerweight belt.”
Q: I was going to ask you, you being 5’11,” the bridgerweight division interests you?
R.S: “Yeah, I’m sure me being a top-15 ranked heavyweight with the WBC, they should be able to rank me really high. I was already ranked at bridgerweight at one point, and at cruiserweight, I was ranked at 25 in the world. I think at this point now with this win, I should be ranked high. So I would love that fight [with Rivas] next if I can get it. If not, I’ll defend my title, but I’m just gonna keep going down in weight. I know Rivas may have other things going on, but if he fights [Allen] Babic, I can defend my belt and then fight the winner of that fight.”
Q: You do have options then. You went pro late, right?
R.S: “Right. I didn’t pick up a pair of gloves until I was 24. I haven’t taken a lot of punishment in my career, so I don’t feel bad, I don’t feel tired. I think I’ll have maybe five or six more fights, I think that’d be good. Then I can start thinking about hanging it up (laughs). You know, eventually Father Time catches up with everybody and I don’t want to find out in the ring that I’m too old.”
Q: You looked sharp in the Morrison fight.
R.B: “My brain’s sharp, I’m not having any problems with my head; my hands are still good and I’ve still got good footwork. Everything still feels good right now, so I’m thinking about maybe six more fights. It could be more, but I know I can fight at this level for six more fights.”
Q: The heavyweight division is interesting right now. Who do you see as the best today?
R.S: “It’s Usyk or Tyson Fury. Wilder, for all his mistakes in the ring, he’s got the eraser (laughs), he’s always got that right hand and if that lands at any time, it’s over. But as far as who is the best boxer in the division, it’s gotta be Usyk or Fury. Fury’s the best, you couldn’t create a better fighter – 6’9” and almost 270 who can box like a lightweight. You can’t put a better fighter together than that. But Usyk has all the tools to beat anyone in the heavyweight division; he has the head movement, the footwork. Heavyweights don’t like all that, trying to beat a mover, so he’s a hard night for any basic one-two boxer. But the fight I would love to see if Wilder and Joshua. Those two should fight because everyone still wants to see it. I don’t think Fury is really looking forward to a fight with Usyk. I’m not sure they actually fight. But I hope they all get in the ring together.”
Q: Your thing in the ring is speed, not getting nailed. Do you look at yourself as an unbeaten fighter, as you have only lost via either split or majority decision?
R.S: “I look at myself as undefeated. I had an unfortunate experience in Detroit when I fought Craig Lewis (Lewis WS6 in 2016). I don’t know what fight those judges were watching. I know two of them – and I don’t like to go into stuff and say it ain’t this or that – but two of them worked with the Detroit Golden Gloves team and they shouldn’t have been judging that fight. The two people who had me losing that fight work with the Detroit Golden Gloves team and they were always in camp with Craig Lewis. Why were they judging the fight?
“And the same thing in Flint, when I lost to the guy from Russia (Alexey Zubov, Simms LS6 in 2017), those two judges who had me losing were the same two judges. I didn’t find out until afterwards, after the fight in Flint. Working hand in hand with the Kronk fighters, they shouldn’t have been judging my fights. If you looked at the judges who gave me the win in those two fights, they were not from Detroit. And the George Arias fight (Simms LMD in 2019), I think I won that one, or at least got a draw. I was out-landing him so I don’t see why he got the win. So I do feel like I’m an undefeated fighter.
“And my draw (with Moses Johnson in March, this a TD after Simms was “accidentally fouled” and was unable to continue) – I don’t know how they had it a draw when the dude hit me twice in the back of the head! He hit me with a combination to the back of the head. He knew what he was doing. He followed through with a hook when my back was to him; he knew what he was doing. I was frustrating him, he was breathing hard, he was starting to tire. I’m telling him in his ear, ‘you better not get tired!’ I could hear him breathing hard. I was just getting started opening up on him. Moses Johnson, I would have knocked him out.”
Q: It’s unfair that we get these bad decisions in boxing. But you are looking at big things now and we wish you the best for the next one.
R.S: “I’m going to get right back to the gym, like I said, to get this weight off. I want to show people the full version of me. I probably could’ve knocked Morrison out but I didn’t want to go for it and then get tired myself. So I just outboxed him. My goal is to get back in shape, stay in the gym, and if I can get something for December or January, that’d be good.”