By James Slater: 38-year-old former world heavyweight title challenger and current world ranked contender “Big” Michael Grant is having trouble getting an opponent to agree to step up to the plate and fight him. Now a free agent and wanting very much to earn a shot at either one of the Klitschkos or at David Haye, the experienced, powerful 6’7” warrior is coming off an impressive March KO of the huge Tye Fields (who went on to get as far as the final in the recent “Prizefighter” tournament.)
Grant felt a bigger fight would come after the win over Fields, yet is still waiting.
Very kindly taking the time to speak with me on a good many things earlier today, the 47-4(35) contender had the following things to say:
James Slater: Thanks so much for talking to me, Michael. You are putting the other heavyweight on notice so to speak? You are having trouble getting a big fight?
Michael Grant: Yes, Sir! It’s been kinda difficult getting a fight, man. I know the economy is suffering a bit, but I want to let people know I’m unencumbered right now; I’m a free agent. Sometimes with a promoter, the numbers gets chopped up before the fight, before the fighter gets his money. But now, with me unencumbered by all of that – I’m ready for whoever, whenever, wherever. The time is now. I just came off a good win over Tye Fields, a power puncher, and I got rid of him. Then I heard this kid, Tyson Fury, was calling me out. I told him I’m not a sucker. His fight fell through and he offered me the fight with just two weeks notice! Come on, man. Give me at least four weeks, I’m a professional. They offered me $150,00, when I know they offered Hasim Rahman $250,000. But I’d take the fight absolutely if they offered me a genuine offer, with time to train. The only way the fight won’t happen is if they try to lowball me. I know that if I come over there (the U.K) I’ll have to knock him out to win.
J.S: It sure would be interesting and exciting if Fury fought you. You did look good against Fields last time out. Did you feel great, at age 38?
M.G: Yeah I did. I was much lighter for that fight than for many of my fights. I was 252, but I was even lower a couple of days before, as I stayed running. I had to chill for a while, and I picked up a pound or two; otherwise I’d have been even lighter for that fight. Now I want a bigger fight; I’m waiting for one of these guys to step up to the plate.
J.S: You gave Tomasz Adamek all he could handle in your fight before Fields. Adamek now gets Vitali Kitschko – do you give him any shot in that fight?
M.G: No I don’t. I actually don’t give Adamek any credit as a heavyweight. I can’t. I mean, all respect to him for climbing into the ring with heavyweights, but I let him get away in that fight, I really did. He can’t punch hard enough or fast enough and he never did anything to me. The only way he was ever going to win that fight was on points, which is what he did. He’s not on my level. Unfortunately, circumstances before the fight prevented me from fighting a better fight – I’d just had back surgery. I told people after the fight that he won’t be able to last in the heavyweight division.
J.S: David Haye gets a shot at Wladimir, as you know. Has he got any shot in your opinion?
M.G: Well, er, let me say; David Haye got exposed in the Monte Barrett fight. Haye seems like a well-rounded gentleman and everything, but he got exposed in that fight. He got rid of Monte but he never hit him with what were really devastating shots. Let me say this about the Klitschkos: they’re well-trained. Emanuel Steward is doing a great job [with Wladimir]. They have power and durability and their at that mature level now. The older brother may be wilting a little right now, but the younger brother looks solid right now; he’s in it to win it. To me, Haye is basically what the Klitschkos were at their early stages. He’s talked his way into the fight, but I think he’ll be disposed of, just like Adamek.
J.S: You feel you would do better against the Klitschkos yourself? You would certainly have the height, the reach and the experience to be able to take them on.
M.G: It’s true. All the numbers match up – be it punch-stats, height, weight. It comes down to experience; we both have the same amount of experience. The thing is, HBO made me an elite fighter back in the early 2000s; they believed in me. And now, I see what they saw. Back then I was in my early stages, but now I’ve also developed and matured. It’s a much more exciting fight [me against a Klitschko]. It would be a knock down, drag-out fight. It’s a fight that should be made.
J.S: You don’t think Adamek is more deserving?
M.G: Not as far as [fighting] the Klitschkos, no. Not yet. He needs another step, against a big name – not a Kevin McBride, who wasn’t that talented. Everyone knew what would happen in that fight, but they never knew what would happen when I fought Adamek. Even Adamek never knew – he was shaking like a leaf before that fight. So is he worth a heavyweight title shot right now? No.
J.S: You want a big name next; are there any particular names you’d like? Maybe a Chris Arreola or a Tony Thompson for example?
M.G: I want Arreola, I would love that fight. Back when he was on top, I really wanted a fight with [Nikolai] Valuev, but he’s kind of slipped now; is he top-draw right now? I don’t really look at the ratings, because I get frustrated at who is out there on the market. These guys, they can’t even compete with the old guys from years gone by; that’s why George Foreman and Larry Holmes carried on for so long. Larry told me, ‘Mike, these guys can’t fight today.’ He said a whole lot right there. But I’ll fight any premier heavyweight. Ideally I want Klitschko or Haye. But Arreola, that would be a perfect fight for me. Tony Thompson? Come on, man. No disrespect, but he’s fighting Maurice Harris, and Harris is altogether more the athlete than Tony Thompson. I won’t be shocked at all if Harris wins that. Unless he’s a shot fighter and not the Maurice Harris I know and he has no chin, I won’t be shocked to see him win. I’d fight the winner, absolutely.
J.S: Back when you turned pro in 1994, did you ever envisage yourself still fighting here in 2011?
M.G: No, I didn’t envisage that at all. But I’ve been blessed. My health is good. I’ve had a couple of hiccups along the way, but God’s been good to me. And it’s all about family. As long as I have my family and my God behind me, I’ll keep going.
J.S: Who trains you now, Michael?
M.G: A local guy called Jason Jorgensen. I’ve been a fighter longer than he’s been a trainer actually. I told him, ‘you don’t need to teach me how to fight; I know how to fight. Just strategise and we’ll come out victorious.’
J.S: One thing the fans like about you is the fact that you are always in great shape. Is it easy training at age 38? You look solid every time out.
M.G: I live the lifestyle of training. I want to present myself well in front of people; my family and friends. I always want to be looked at as the future heavyweight champion. You have to look and act like a professional if you are a professional.
J.S: It’s been great speaking with you, Michael. We wish you well with your next fight, whoever it’s against.
M.G: Thank you. Call me any time you hear that fight with Tyson Fury is on again. Like I said, the only way that fight won’t happen is if they try and lowball me.