Interview: Ray Oliveira Is Back

James Stillerman: Three time world title challenger and former IBU and NABF light welterweight champion, “Sucra” Ray Oliveira 47-11-2, 22KOs is coming out of his five year retirement to fight the WBA number six rated light heavyweight Joey “KO Kid” Spina in a ten round main event this Saturday October 2nd at the Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. This boxing event entitled the “Last Man Standing” is promoted by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment and Sports (“CES”).

Oliveira`s career has spanned fifteen years and over 60 fight, of which he defeated former champions, Vince Phillips and Charles Murray twice, as well as Sual Duran, Vivian Harris and Tracy Span. He also fought world champions, Ricky Hatton and the late Vernon Forrest, and was in great battles with Ben Tackie, Jake Rodriquez and Zack Padilla.. I was lucky enough to catch up with Oliveira, days away from his significant fight with Spina and got his thoughts on why he came out of retirement, how he thinks his fight with Spina will turn out, what was his best momentum in boxing and much more.
James Stillerman: What was the main reason you came out of retirement?

Ray Oliveira: I came out of retirement so that I could get three more victories and finish my career with fifty wins. This has always been something I wanted to do since I left boxing in 2005 and now that I`m medically cleared and my neck is fine, I`m ready to fight again and finish my career on a high note. I`m 41 years old right now and I`ll be 42 in October so I`m only getting older, so I figured it was now or never for me to obtain three more victories.

James Stillerman: How long have you been training for this comeback?

Ray Oliveira: I`ve been training in the gym for the last eight weeks for this fight and I`m in great shape. Right now I weigh 168 pounds which is right on target for the weigh in. Spina better be ready for the new and improve me because he`s in for a fight for all ten rounds.

James Stillerman: What was the reason for you choosing such a tough opponent in Spina as your first fight in five years?

Ray Oliveira: Obviously I wanted an easier fight than Spina especially since I was out of the sport for the last five years. However, the more I thought about this fight the more I liked it. I love being in tough fights because it makes me train even harder and it brings out the best in me. Spina is one of the best fighters in New England and I want to fight the best. This is going to be a great battle between two great fighters and the fans will enjoy it.

James Stillerman: What kind of fighter is Spina and how do you think this fight against him will play out?

Ray Oliveira: Spina is a tough fighter and is a really powerful puncher. Nevertheless, he`s like a robot in the ring because he has no movement and does not throw a great deal of punches. Instead he just throws one looping punch at a time, looking for the knockout punch. I`m going to outbox him for the full ten rounds, move around the ring, establish my jab and throw a lot of punches. I`m not going for the knockout, I never have. Spina keeps saying he`s going to knock me out, yet no one has. I`ve much more experience than he has and I`ve face much better competition than him. My experience, ring movement and punching ability is going to help me prevail over Spina and shout his mouth once and for as I punish him for all ten rounds.

James Stillerman: How long do you want to fight for this time around?

Ray Oliveira: All I want to do is obtain three wins and have fifty victories and then I`ll retire. Some people asked me if I win three fights and I get offered a title fight what I do. Well I`m not that stupid, I`d take the title fight. Yet, if after the three fights if there is no title fight then I`ll quietly retire again. But right now I`m not thinking of the other two fights (which I`ll fight at 160 and not 168), because I`m solely focused on beating Spina.

James Stillerman: Do you think fighting at 168 is going to affect you when for most of your career you fought at 140 and 147?

Ray Oliveira: It`s not going to be a problem for me to fight at 168 pounds. I`ve all ready-made weight and fighting at a higher weight class is not a problem for me since I`ve always walked around at 190 pounds. This time around it`s easier for me lose weight since I`ve to lose less of it. Furthermore, I always spar with bigger guys so I`m use to fighters having a lot of punching power, like Spina. I`ve nothing to lose in this fight while Spina has everything to lose and has all the pressure in this fight. He`s suppose to beat me since he`s a top ten fighter while this is my first fight since coming out of a five year retirement.

James Stillerman: Have you changed any of your boxing tactics for this fight since you`ve lost your last two fights?

Ray Oliveira: No I`ve no changed anything. The last two fights I lost, one was to Ricky Hatton at 140 pounds when I had not fought at light welterweight in over ten years, so dropping down to that weight class really hurt me and Hatton is a world class fighter. And then the fight with Emanuel Augustus I was not myself. I take nothing away from Augustus because he beat me fair and square but I`m a much better fighter than I showed that night. Now for this fight against Spina, I`m going to use more movement, not take or thrown as many punches as I`ve in many of my bouts, and work the body more than I`ve in the past.

James Stillerman: What is your biggest accomplishment in your career?

Ray Oliveira: The thing I`m most proud of is wherever I go people come up to me and say I love the way you fight and they tell me that whenever I was going to fight they knew it was going to be a great fight. Every fight I`m in I try to make it a great fight and I want to please the fans and make sure that when they come and see me that they get their monies worth. For this fight at Foxwoods people have already told me that they can`t wait to see this fight because they know I`m ready to fight and I`m going to attack my opponent for all ten rounds. This is why I like to pick even fights because fans are more likely to come out and see who wins. I`ve never cared about the gloves or ring size instead I care about giving the fans a great fight and I`m glad they have appreciated it all of these years.

James Stillerman: Did you have any regrets in your career or wished things went differently?

Ray Oliveira: I`ve no regrets with the way my boxing career went, I`m a very happy person. I certainly have had more downs than ups in my career and yeah, I could`ve handled my money better and picked better fights along the way but these are all life lessons that I learned that have made me a better person today. You`ve to live and learn and this is what I did and I`d not change a thing.

James Stillerman: How did you get your nickname “Sucra”?

Ray Oliveira: Originally I had the nickname “Sugar” which all the great fighters with the name Ray had such as Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson. However, I wanted to stand out from them so I asked a friend of mine who is Spanish how to say sugar in Spanish and he said it was “Sucra” and that is how my nickname came about. Now when people say “Sucra” they are talking about Ray Oliveira and not any other Ray.

James Stillerman: What have you been up to while in retirement?

Ray Oliveira: I`ve been running my own boxing gym, Outpoint located in New Bedford, MA. Here I train many people of all ages the art of boxing and I have a couple of good amateur fighters and one pro fighter in Dustin Reinhold who is 3-1, 2KOs and his only loss was to Gerardo Ibarra who is 10-0. Reinhold is going to be a big time fighter. I teach all my students at my gym to respect boxing, each other and teach them life lessons that will help them out in the future.

James Stillerman: Is there anything else you want to talk about that I didn`t already address?

Ray Oliveira: I just want to tell everyone to buy their tickets for the fight because they are selling fast. The fans are going to see a better, younger and more experience Oliveira who will put on another great fight. Spina is ready to go as am I and both of us are in great shape. The fans will love this fight. I`ll win and then have two more fights and retire.

A special thanks goes to Ray Oliveira for taking time out of his training camp and allowing me to interview him and to Bob Trieger for arranging the interview.