Looking very much like a 1970s heavyweight (albeit much bigger at 6’6″) with his afro hairstyle, Cassius Chaney (named after Cassius Clay) is, as he says himself, a “sleeper.” Talented and aiming to improve in each and every fight, the 33-year-old who is now based in Miami had his first fight of 2020 this past Friday, when he stopped an out of shape Chauncy Welliver in four rounds.
Happy to have been back in action having undergone the longest layoff of his career, the 19-0(13) Chaney was also kind enough to speak with ESB:
Q: Congratulations on the win on Friday. It must have been great getting back in the ring after nine months out – the whole coronavirus has messed up so much.
Cassius Chaney: “Yeah (laughs). It’s been tough. I’ve been able to train, to pretty much do everything I’ve needed to. If anything, I’ve been going at it too hard. But it was tough fighting without fans in attendance, that in itself was a new experience.”
Q: Do you aim to have another fight this year?
C.C: “Hopefully, yes. I was active last year, and staying active is what I need to get my work down, to improve, and to learn from my mistakes. I can be ready to fight again in October if need be.”
Q: Chauncy Welliver did not appear to be in shape at all at 378 pounds.
C.C: “Yeah, but he is a tough guy with experience, who can get you to do things you don’t want to do, get you off your game. I’m not sure if he trained or not. But I was trying too hard to get him out of there (the TKO coming in the 4th round). It became more of a sparring match after I knew he couldn’t hurt me.”
Q: You are now 19-0(13), and you’ve been a pro since April of 2015. Have you made the kind of progress you are happy with at this stage, at age 33?
C.C: I’d say yes. It’s different for me because I came from a basketball background. These guys who have been in boxing since they were just kids, they, of course, have so much more experience than me. It’s a different science for me; I started late. I’ve been through things such as switching trainers, managers, and I’m seeing what works best for me. In terms of progress, I’m still a sleeper. The people will see me, and they will see me get better against better competition. I’m like that in how I fight better against better opposition. So the elite guys will expose me, as far as they will show how good I really am.”
Q: Who has given you your toughest fight so far?
C.C: “So far, Jon Boden (W decision) and Friday’s fight was pretty tough for different reasons. In fights, I just have to keep my jab going, keep my height, and use my skills.”
Q: The heavyweight division is lively right now. I guess you saw what Povetkin did to Whyte. Were you surprised like the rest of us?
C.C: “I saw it. I wasn’t really [shocked]. The thing is, so many people dislike Dillian Whyte, maybe because of the way he comes across. But I do like him. I like Povetkin too, he’s a professional. The surprising thing to me is him [Whyte] wanting to take the rematch so fast before he lets everything heal up.”
Q: And the third fight between Fury and Wilder, do you think Wilder has what it takes to be able to do anything different in the third fight?
C.C: “I do. I think he’s smart enough to be able to come back, and of course, it’s heavyweight boxing. In the rematch, Wilder was, for the first time, the B-side in a fight. It didn’t look like he had the same energy. But yes, I do think he’s smart enough to do things differently in the next fight. It won’t be a draw this time, and it won’t be a one-sided fight this time. We’ll get something different.”
Q: And Joshua against Pulev, how do you see that one going?
C.C: “I really don’t know. It’s heavyweight boxing! I do like Pulev [as a fighter], but I just think Joshua has to be smart, and if he is and if it becomes a hard fight, he will win. But Pulev is world-class, and he has his own way of fighting.”
Q: Who is the best heavyweight in the world right now?
C.C: “Myself! Of course. But number-one, aside from myself, I really don’t know, I kind of think it’s a free-for-all. They all do their own thing. I’ve got three guys to chase!”
Q: How far off are you from getting in there with one of those guys?
C.C: “I’m just focusing on getting better and better. And again, I will fight better against better competition. I do have expectations, as far as me having expectations of myself – I have to get better and better, it’s very important to me. Next year, next summer maybe [I’ll fight a top name], I’ll just have to see how things open up. I just have to put it all together.”
Q: In terms of other young up and coming heavyweights, who are you impressed by?
C.C: Jared Anderson is a guy with talent; we haven’t run across each other yet. But most of those [young] guys, they’ve been boxing all this time, since they were kids. I like Daniel Dubois; I think the Joe Joyce fight will be a great fight. Again, we’ll see how things open up over the coming months.”