The last time we saw Tavoris Cloud he was losing his IBF light heavyweight title to Bernard Hopkins. The fight took place in Brooklyn at the palatial Barclays Center where Cloud, the younger man by 17 years, couldn’t solve the Hopkins puzzle and went down via unanimous decision: 117-111, 116-112, 116-112.
Before that fight, Cloud had long spells of inactivity, defending his title only four times between winning the title in August 2009 and losing it in March. It would be fair to say another hiatus was expected after losing the belt.
That hasn’t been the case. An unexpected title shot was offered against new RING and WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, who will be attempting to make his first defense. The fight will air on HBO along with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Brian Vera on Sept. 28.
It has the look of an entertaining contest and Cloud is looking forward to “a fan-friendly fight,” but the 31-year-old with a record of 24-1 with 19 inside the distance insists that he’ll adapt to whatever happens in the ring.
Anson Wainwright – On Saturday you challenge WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson for his title. What are your thoughts on that fight?
Tavoris Cloud – It’s a fan-friendly fight, it’s definitely going to be an action packed fight – two hard hitters in the light heavyweight division, and the fight is happening at the Bell Center which is a great thing in Montreal for boxing.
I’m very thankful for the opportunity. My team understood that I wanted to get back in the ring as soon as possible and fight for the world championship again. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to fight Adonis Stevenson and I’m also grateful for HBO putting the fight on.
AW – When you look at him what are your thoughts on what he brings to the table?
TC – It’s an exciting fight. I don’t really think he’s that good of a boxer but he has power and that always makes a fight exciting, because when either fighter can punch the fight could be over in one round, with one punch.
AW – He knocked out Chad Dawson in one round. When you look at that he seems to have brought his power from 168 up to 175. Your style is an offensive one – are you going to meet fire with fire in this fight?
TC – Whichever way when I get in there and I feel my opponent out and feel which ever style is the most intelligent style to fight that night, that’s what I’ll do. If I have to go in there and punch with him, I’ll punch with him, if I have to box I can box, if I have to do both I can do both. I’m capable of doing both. I’m just going to win the fight by any means necessary.
AW – Your last fight was the first loss of your career. Looking back what are your thoughts on your fight with Bernard Hopkins?
TC – My thoughts on that fight is that I’ll see him in the rematch and we’ll take it from there.
I watched it and I’m not making any excuses, I’m just looking forward to going out and proving myself as a better fighter in all of my future bouts.
So many things go on outside the ring that a lot of people don’t know about. Sometimes it prohibits us from being our best, that’s just the way things go.
AW – Would you like to expand on that?
TC – No, I wouldn’t.
AW – For the Hopkins fight you went to Big Bear, Calif. Now you‘re back in Florida working with Al Bonnani – can you tell us about this?
TC – Big Bear is an excellent training camp, great place to train, with the altitude. …me and Abel Sanchez, we had time constraints for the fight with Hopkins, there was little we could do. I think on my behalf it was bad timing to switch up trainers, to try to build chemistry with somebody new. So I backed up and I decided to go back with my old team and I’m back with Al Bonnani. I’m back with Alonzo Johnson as well and everything is going well – we’re going to get the victory on the 28th.
AW – Tell us about your team.
TC – Well you know I’m glad to be working along with Don King (promoter). I have my manager, James Prince, he stimulates everything as far as the business boxing and getting fights and being on the networks. I think it’s a great team. We have the iconic name of Don King and we also have the iconic name of James Prince from the music industry – he is also well known in the boxing world. It’s a good team, I’m glad to be working and getting my opportunities and I think the two together makes for a helluva team.
AW – If I can take you back, you’re born, raised and still live in Tallahassee, Florida. Could you tell us about your younger days?
TC – We grew up in the ‘hood – me, my sisters and brothers – my mom was a single parent and she had to work a lot, and a lot of times me, my sisters and brothers, we stayed home and took care of each other. A lot of times we got in trouble. Looking back it could have been worse but I thank God we did have a parent who did look after us and care for us.
AW – How did you first become interested and take up boxing?
TC – I first became interested in boxing when I was a little kid, watching on TV with my older brother and we were looking at the TV and wondering why they don’t just run up and hit each other. We were like, ‘why do they start off slow?‘ Both of us felt like we could do it better than anyone ever did it ‘cause we were going to run on and just hit the guy, we weren’t going to start of with jabs and stuff like that. That’s one of my earliest memories of boxing, but I started fighting at the age of 16 with my amateur trainer Alonzo Johnson, who is now my head strength and conditioning trainer. It’s been a great ride and we’re still enjoying the ride. All the hard work we put in, we’re still enjoying it. Thank God for boxing, boxing is a great sport.
AW – If we look at THE RING magazine ratings, what do you think of each guy.
C – Adonis Stevenson: I think he’s going to lose his title Sept. 28.
1 – Bernard Hopkins: I think he’s going to lose his title when we have a rematch.
2 – Sergey Kovalev: I think he’s going to lose his title whenever me and him do meet.
3 – Tavoris Cloud: I love that guy (laughs), great guy.
4 – Nathan Cleverly: Amateur, big mouth amateur.
5 – Chad Dawson: It seems like Chad Dawson is kinda dwindling lately. He had a couple of knockout losses and seems like he’s dwindling out of the picture.
6 – Karo Murat: That guy was my mandatory for a while. All I know about him is that he’s a tough guy. I think Bernard Hopkins beats him when they do fight. He’s European, that’s all I know about him.
7 – Tony Bellew: Big mouth amateur. Lately it seems they think the way to get a big fight is by running their mouth and talking a lot of smack and not paying their dues. Him and Nathan Cleverly, they didn’t fight anybody but they want to call out the top guys and it’s just a bunch of nonsense.
8 – Isaac Chilemba: I need to check that guy out. (I explained that Chilemba drew and then lost to Bellew and Cloud quips, ‘Shows why he’s No. 8 then!‘)
9 – Juergen Braehmer: I heard he’s a tough guy. That’s the guy Nathan Cleverly got the title from cause he was in jail. I heard a lot of good things about him, I think he’s a good fighter. He needs to get his head on straight and be a fighter and be the best fighter he can be.
10 – Jean Pascal: Jean Pascal, it seems like he wants to be more of a celebrity than a fighter.
AW – Away from boxing what do you enjoy doing?
TC – I think everyone knows I like hunting and fishing, outdoors, thinks like that. I actually like to spend time with my daughter, just seeing her grow up and being happy – whatever she likes to do that’s pretty much what I like. I was a Ray Lewis fan – they won the Super Bowl and now he’s retired. That’s about it. I’m not to much into sports – I watch it if everyone else watches it. I’m not crazy about it, my wife doesn’t have to worry about me watching every football game and sports event. I’m just pretty laid back. I enjoy playing with my pit bull, Boi Boi – he’s the best dog in the world. I’m trying to fight as much as I can and train as hard as I can, I have another baby on the way – I’m triple focused.
AW – What goals do you still have in boxing?
TC – One of my future goals is to make more money than Floyd Mayweather (laughs). I would like to make more money than Floyd Mayweather made in his last fight! He made $41.5 million. I’d settle for a little bit less but $42 million in one fight is the goal (laughs).
My goal in boxing is to do it as long as I can do it, as well as I can do it, be smart and make smart business decisions and hopefully one day I can give something back to the sport.
AW – Do you look at life after boxing? I know you‘re still at the peak of your career but do you have an exit strategy?
TC – While I’m in boxing I’m looking to build the brand of Tavoris Cloud and makeTavoris Cloud a household name so I can do other things when boxing is over.
Initially I want to get it out there. I don’t know what area I’m going to focus it in as of right now, but I‘m definitely thinking of shoes – boxing shoes, tennis shoes – maybe a clothing line which should be coming out pretty soon.
AW – In closing, do you have a message for Adonis Stevenson ahead of your fight?
TC – Yeah, don’t blink!
Photos by Naoki Fukuda (1); Elsa-Gettyimages (2-4)