“The best man is going to win and right now I think Raul is a little bit better than Jermaine” Also Shields Concerned About Judging For Diaz fight!
18.06.04 – Interview by Carlos Kalinchuk: Some say that Donald Trump is the busiest real estate developer in the country. He starts his days early and he finishes very late into the evening. In boxing, I can’t think of another trainer who’s currently as busy as veteran trainer Ronnie Shields out of Houston. In the midst of preparing Raul Marquez for his fight with Jermaine Taylor this weekend, he’s also training Dominick Guinn, James Leija, and Juan Diaz for big fights in the next 5 weeks. Although some would shudder at the thought of 12-hour training days and evenings filled with hours upon hours of videotape, by Shields’ disposition and attitude, you’d know he’s loving every minute of it. “…And that’s what this boxing is all about and that’s challenges and I look forward to challenges all the time!” Knowing what’s in front of him and his fighters, that’s exactly what he has on his hands.
I caught up with Ronnie last Friday as he was wrapping up his training with Raul Marquez. In addition to his upcoming fights, we discussed his disappointment over Guinn’s performance, his concern over the judges in the Diaz fight, and his prospects of working as the lead trainer on Oscar DelaHoya’s up coming reality show, “The Contender.” This is a good read and a look at one of boxings finest trainers. Enjoy.
Eastside Boxing: I heard it through the grapevine that you are being considered as one of the official trainers for Oscar DelaHoya’s upcoming reality show-The Contender. How did that come about?
Ronnie Shields: They called me up and they asked me if I was interested, and I told them “Yeah I am” and they told me they would get back with me after June 12th. Because June 12th is the final city they were going to which is Las Vegas and so now I’m just waiting to hear from them.
Eastside Boxing: This would be kind of new for you right, kind of a leap into this reality TV genre that’s become so popular right?
Ronnie Shields: Yeah, it sounds pretty exciting and I’m looking forward to it. Right now I’m just basically waiting to hear from them. Right now I don’t even know who the fighters are going to be and they don’t know which divisions they picked as of yet but I’m sure there’s going to be some guys that I’ve seen before and probably a lot of new guys that I haven’t seen.
Eastside Boxing: From what you heard what were the pre-requisites for the boxers? Where they supposed to have a pro background?
Ronnie Shields: From what I understand, you don’t have to have ANY fights. You just have to try out for it and there’s going to be a lot of inexperienced guys that if I do get the job I’m basically going to have to teach them how to fight.
Eastside Boxing: (Laughs).
Ronnie Shields: But that’s always a challenge and that’s always the exciting part.
Eastside Boxing: I can see where it has it’s advantages working with a guy that’s a clean slate versus a guys who repeatedly done things a certain way for years or done things wrong repeatedly as well.
Ronnie Shields: Yeah, absolutely. I’m sure it’ll be a challenge and I’m just looking forward to it but I’m sure there’ll be a lot of guys with a lot of experience also.
Eastside Boxing: I asked Dominick Guinn what he learned in his last fight so I’m going to ask you the same thing. What did you learn about the last fright from Dominick Guinn or what did you pick up on that he could have done differently? Obviously you were imploring him to throw more punches but to summarize, what did you learn about Dominick from his last fight?
Ronnie Shields: Well, usually after the fight I go back and watch the tape and critique the fight but after this loss I didn’t even go back to look at it.
Eastside Boxing: Too upset?
Ronnie Shields: Yeah I was too upset it because…Dominick trained REAL HARD for that fight and there was no excuse. He lost the fight. He should have won the fight. It wasn’t an easy fight and we knew that going in. It was just a fight Dominick should have taken control of early on and he did it in the first round, but after the first round everything went down. And only he can answer THAT question. But like I said I haven’t even gone back and seen the fight and critiqued anything. I don’t think I’m going to do it this time because I’m just going to take it from there and we did everything that we possibly could for him, but it’s up to the fighter to get in there and do what we trained for and he just didn’t do it. And you know, he’s just going to have to pick it up! He’s fighting on July 24, a veteran named Phil Jackson. And it’s another tough fight for him even though it’s off TV but it’s a “step up” fight for him. He’ll have to step up and do the right things in the gym and do the right things in the fight and we’ll see from there.
Eastside Boxing: You’ve got an interesting situation where you have a lot of big action fights coming up and you’re going to have your hands full. You have Leija fighting Bojado…could you tell us how that’s working out?
Ronnie Shields: First of all, I have Raul Marquez fighting Jermaine Taylor June 19th and that’s a tough fight for us and then I have Juan Diaz fighting for the WBA Lightweight Championship here in Houston-and that’s a big fight and then the following week I have James Leija and Francisco Bojado which is a very tough fight and then Dominick Guinn and Phil Jackson which is another tough fight. But you know, there’s only 24 hours in a day and I’m working about 12 of it and the other 12 I’m studying tape and then I’m doing everything but I’ve got guys separated pretty much to where I work with them ALL individually. I don’t put any of them together and I’m able to work with them individually. It’s working out pretty good and everybody’s getting in shape right now and it’s a tough road. All four guys are fighting tough fights and it’s a challenge and that’s what this boxing is all about and that’s challenges and I look forward to challenges all the time!
Eastside Boxing: Mayweather Sr. historically likes to turn it into a trainer versus trainer thing like he’s done before. Do you expect him to do that this time? You guys kind of go way back. Do expect him to say anything derogatory about you or your fighter since he’s done that so many times before?
Ronnie Shields: I’m not worried about Floyd Sr. doing that to me. As a matter of fact I don’t know if he’s even training him for this fight. Buddy McGirt trained Bojado in his last fight because it conflicted with his obligations to DelaHoya but now that Oscar’s fight is finished, maybe he’ll go back to Floyd I don’t worry about that. People say and do what they want to and that doesn’t bother me.
Eastside Boxing: Are you ready for his crazy poems then (Smiles)?
Ronnie Shields: Well with him it’s about him and not the fighter but with me it’s about the fighter and not me. My job is to get the fighter in shape and get together a good fight plan and I expect him to go out and carry it out. Anything else, they can have that. All these other guys, they want this thing to be about themselves but they’re not in there throwing punches. He’s giving advice and that’s all he can do which is the same thing that I’m doing. The better fighters going to win and hopefully that’ll be James Leija.
Eastside Boxing: Lavka Sim…tell me about this challenge for Juan. Not a whole lot of people know a lot about him but he supposed to be tough and aggressive and straightforward.
Ronnie Shields: He’s the two-time world champion so that will let you know right there that he’s a very tough guy. I’ve been studying film on this guy and he throws a lot of punches and he’s a strong fighter and he takes a great shot! And the thing about it is that we have our work cut out for us. We have a young guy (Juan Diaz) who’s twenty years old fighting for his world title and he’s hungry. I’ve been working with him now for over a month and we’ve got everything down already but we have to punch together now when we start sparring in another week or two. I’m expecting big things from Juan. I think Juan has the capabilities and he has the heart to win this world title and I just hope they don’t steal it from him. Just because he’s fighting in his hometown the pressures not on Juan, it’s on Lavka Sim but I’m just concerned about the judges. That’s the only thing that concerns me is the judges. I’m not worried about anything else but the judges and I hope Main Events realizes that they can talk to the commission to make sure we get judges that are fair and that’s all I’m worried about. I’m not worried about the fight at all because I know Juan’s going to win the fight.
Eastside Boxing: Since you brought up the subject would you like to make mention (publicly) of some of the judges who are your biggest concern?
Ronnie Shields: You know I don’t like to call names but after they announce the judges I will! I will make them aware and that EVERYBODY will be watching and we’re going to make a big stink of who the judges are.
Eastside Boxing: I can think of two locally that every time I see their names or see them scoring fights, and every time I see their cards I’m in shock. I’m wondering were they in the restroom the whole time or were they busy ordering a round of drinks because their scorecards are always bad news.
Ronnie Shields: Actually I don’t think they’ll use judges from Texas.
Eastside Boxing: I hope not. Not that all of them are bad but like I said there are two I can think of that are awful that live right here in Houston.
Ronnie Shields: It could be a good thing and it could be a bad thing. But to us it doesn’t matter as long as they judge the fight fairly. If we lose the fight then we lost the fight! But if we win the fight then we deserve the fight. When you’re fighting a world champion, sometimes people think, “You’re fighting at home!” That doesn’t mean anything!
Eastside Boxing: They call Oscar’s home Las Vegas and I’ve seen at least two fights where he got totally jobbed.
Ronnie Shields: That’s right! But he won the fight, so that’s right. We’re just hoping that the judges are fair and like I said, if we lose the fight, they won’t hear anything from us, but if we win the fight and they steal the fight, then they’re going to hear a lot!
Eastside Boxing: In closing what do you want to tell everybody? It’s been a while since we talked so what do you want to tell the fans?
Ronnie Shields: Just watch out on June 19th on HBO for Raul Marquez against Jermaine Taylor and July 17th with Juan Diaz and Lavka Sim and July 24th for James Leija and Francisco Bojado and keep tuning in and supporting boxing.
Eastside Boxing: I really forgot to ask you about Raul Marquez because you have so much going on but he’s very experienced and he’s worked with a lot of people…how has that challenge been working with him?
Ronnie Shields: It’s really easy for me because I worked with Raul in the Amateurs and when he turned professional, I was one of his trainers then. SO it’s not like a new relationship…
Eastside Boxing: (Interrupting) Similar to James Leija right?
Ronnie Shields: Oh yeah but I’ve always worked with James. We had a break from each other though but I’ve worked with James as a pro a lot longer than I have Raul. I never worked with James as an amateur but I’ve been knowing Raul for so long that when he called me up and asked me and he came in, we just picked it right up like we’ve been together forever. So it’s really easy to me to work with him. He’s looking real good in the gym and his weight is down and he’s strong and ready to go. The best man is going to win and right now I think Raul is a little bit better than Jermaine. Jermaine has a lot of good fights but Jermaine has not fought the caliber of fighters that Raul has but Jermaine has to step up and we know this. We just have Raul in great shape and we’re going to see what happens.
Eastside Boxing: He’s finished sparring right?
Ronnie Shields: He’s sparring right up until Tuesday the 15th of June. He’s boxing good rounds and he has great sparring partners and we can’t really ask for anything better from Raul Marquez. The fight plan is together and he’s been working at it everyday and we’re going to let the chips fall where they may on June 19th.
Eastside Boxing: As always Ronnie, it’s a pleasure.
Ronnie Shields: Thank you.
Carlos “Stiff-jab” Kalinchuk
Contributing Writer & Photographer