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Join Date: Mar 2010
Re: Kevin Rooney Interview On Tyson
Cus D'Amato. If he could see how Mike's career turned out, what would he say?
Well, I gotta answer that in two ways. Number one: If Cus had stayed alive, it never would have happened. Number two: I think Cus would be very disappointed. He would have thought 'Dammit, I didn't have enough time to teach Mike.' And, I believe that. Cus and Mike were together for almost 5 years and it took Cus almost 2 years to get Mike's trust. Once Cus got that trust, Mike started to go through everybody in the amateurs. Then, when Cus died after Mike's 11th pro fight, he told Jimmy and Bill 'Let's prove Cus right.' There was no greater mind in boxing than Cus D'Amato. Nobody!
Even Ali sought Cus's advice. No?
Right! He did that before his fight with George Foreman. Cus told Ali: 'George doesn't respect your punch, so go out there and nail him!' If you watch the fight, you see in the first two rounds, Ali plants himself and nails Foreman hard with a straight hand - right on the button! You can see the surprise in Foreman's eyes! With 30 seconds left in the rounds, Ali would open up on Foreman. So, after every ****in' round, George is going back to his corner and they're telling him Ali can't punch! That was the psychology and Cus saw that. After the rope-a-dope, Foreman was tired and he more or less gave up.
Fighters who are big punchers usually have problems with their hands. Did Mike have hand problems? Was it ever a concern for you as his trainer?
Mike never had any broken bones or knuckles. He never had any type of hand problems when I was working with him. One time he had a problem with his thumb, but he got that in a street fight with Mitch Green.
Speaking of Mitch 'Blood' Green, he was the first man never to touch the canvas against Mike. Did Mike have a problem with Green's style or did he underestimate him?
It was Green's style. All Green was doing was counterpunching. He wasn't leading. Green fought a defensive fight and didn't look to engage. He only looked to survive. Mike beat the **** outta him! When you got a guy who's 6'4", that doesn't want to lead or exchange, he's hard to fight - and he's definitely hard to knock out. Also, Mitch has always been ****ed off about his situation with Don King. That's what lead to that street fight in Harlem in front of that clothing store. Green took a slug at Mike and Mike blasted him.
What do you think prompted Mike to bite Holyfield?
I believe Mike bit him because Holyfield kept head butting him. Holyfield is a very dirty fighter and no one ever talks about that! He's very slick with those dirty tactics. Even George Foreman said that Holyfield was the dirtiest fighter he ever fought. But in that fight, it all started when Holyfield threw Mike up against the ropes and came in with his head! He cut Mike. And, Holyfield kept on doing it throughout the fight! People have to realize that the atmosphere in that fight was really charged up. If you look closely, Mike nibbled on his ear before he actually bit him. It was almost like a warning to Holyfield to stop head butting. Of course, it was wrong for Mike to do that. But back in the old days, stuff like that used to happen all the time.
When I was coming up, Cus showed me some tricks and how to get away with them. Cus was from the 20's and he knew every dirty trick in the book! He showed me how to hold a guy a certain way... come in with your head... put your elbow under his chin... put a thumb in the guys eye... hit a guy low... knee him in the groin, things like that. When you're in close, you can do those things and get away with it. It's hard for the referee to see things like that. In a fight, it's an all out war. Although there are rules and you try to stay within those rules, fighters... like Holyfield, do try to break those rules.
It's been said that Holyfield had the perfect style to beat Mike. How would you have coached him against Holyfield?
I would have sent Mike right after him. Get right in Holyfield's face! AND, move his head more. That was Mike's main ingredient. Moving his head. It made him difficult to fight. When a fighter throws a punch at another fighter, and it doesn't land, he becomes more cautious and won't throw that same punch. The guy gets confused. That's when a guy like Mike, who's moving his head, can land his punches and knock the guy out. If Mike had the proper training, with me in his corner, he would have knocked Holyfield out. There is no question about it.
Mike's loss to Buster Douglas. Many people were saddened to see him on the canvas struggling to grab his mouthpiece. What did you think of that fight?
I wasn't saddened because I saw it coming. But, I was saddened when I saw Mike's next fight after Spinks, eight months later. He fought Frank Bruno (their first fight) and his skills had already become diminished. I could tell he wasn't training like he should. If Bruno could fight, he would have knocked Mike out that night. Bruno landed a punch that buckled Mike, but Bruno didn't know what to do after that! When I saw that, I knew it wouldn't be long before he got knocked out. For me, that was sad... to see Mike's skills start to unravel.
But for Douglas, the minute I saw Mike walk into the ring, I knew he wasn't in shape. I saw the fat. He wasn't ripped. I just KNEW he was partying it up in Japan before that fight. They really like to party over there in Japan. Believe me! I found that out when we went over to Japan the year before to fight (Tony) Tubbs. But, we had to refrain until AFTER the fight. It was a long plane ride over there, something like 14 hours. When we got there, Mike slept for a while and then I woke him up for a 3 mile run. Then, he would go to the gym and he worked out hard. There was no fooling around before the Tubbs fight!
Two weeks before the Douglas fight, I heard Mike weighed 250 and had to take off 30 pounds. So, he dehydrated and starved himself. In the first few rounds, Douglas came out throwing a few jabs and you could see that he was nervous. But, he was throwing punches and Mike wasn't! If I had been in Mike's corner that night, I would have said: 'Look Mike, you came all the way over here and all you did was party. You've only got 3 or 4 rounds in you and you better throw EVERYTHING you've got. If you don't knock him out in that time, I'm throwing in the towel.' If Mike had done that, he could have knocked Douglas out. But, he didn't. He let a scared fighter get brave. Once you do that, you've got problems. Brave fighters don't go back to being scared. So, as the rounds went on... Douglas got confident! And when Douglas got knocked on his ass, he punched the canvas and got up. The next round, he beat the hell out of Mike... and then stopped him.
Which fights do you feel were the best performances of Mike's career?
Oh! There were many! When he went 10 rounds with James Tillis. It was his first 10 round fight. Before that, he was knocking guys out in less than 6 rounds. Another one was the fight with Mitch (Green). Mike beat Tony Tucker in a 12 round decision, EASY. He destroyed Tyrell Biggs, EASY. He knocked out Larry Holmes, EASY. Then it was Tubbs and then Spinks - EASY. Mike was on the road to greatness. In his first fight without me, he looked terrible against Bruno. Then he fought (Carl) Williams in a controversial stoppage. And then came the Douglas fight. So, all I have to say is... look at Mike's record before and after me.
Mike's **** conviction. Many people feel it was a set up. Your thoughts?
Definitely a set up! How the hell are you gonna get a TAX attorney to defend you in a **** case?! Just before that happened, the rumour was that Mike was going to leave King and go with Harold Smith. That whole thing just didn't add up. So... who knows.
Mike could have gone down as the greatest heavyweight ever. He could have been undefeated in 100 fights! But, he surrounded himself with lowlifes and jerk-offs and everyone was having a party with his money. Mike was making a ton of money because of Jimmy and Bill (Cayton). They are the ones who got Mike 20 million to fight Michael Spinks! It was the biggest purse ever at the time. He made 10 million to fight Tony Tubbs in Japan and Mike was making commercials for millions of dollars. Then, Mike marries Robin (Givens) and King steals him away. Mike can't sit around and say 'Cus never told me!' That's all bull****! Mike had the BEST team! You don't go from the BEST to the WORST and then try to play naive! It's Mike's fault and his fault alone.
You know, Mike hurt himself and stabbed me and Bill in the back when he went with King. But, Mike was wooed away by King and I understand that. Mike should have just stayed with the people who brought him to the top. But, he chose to go with King. Mike blew it. He had a great run. But, he got suckered when he went with King and he should have known better. Now... Mike is suing him for 100 million dollars! You go figure it.