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Former WBA Junior Welterweight champion, Sharmba Mitchell, speaks about his upcoming bout.    

Mitchell vs. Phillips / Thompson vs. Lacy: Pre-Fight Interview

Showtime Interview

November 7, 2002

Sharmba Mitchell (49-3, 29 KOs), Vince Phillips (44-6-1, 32 KOs), Ross Thompson (25-6-1, 17 KOs) and Jeff Lacy (11-0, 10 KOs) discussed their upcoming fights on Saturday (live on Showtime). In a crossroads bout featuring two former 140-pound world champions, Mitchell will take on Phillips in the main event. In the co-featured main event, Thompson will make his first title defense when he battles the unbeaten, hard-hitting Lacy.

Question: How is training going?

Mitchell: Camp is going great. I have been training hard, and I am ready to fight. I have been boxing with a lot of different guys. This is picking my spirits up. I am doing what I have to do to be successful.

Phillips: Training is going great. I have been with my trainer, Cassius Green. We have been working on certain things. My fundamentals are improved, and will help me reach a new level after I fight Mitchell. We are doing what is best to help me be successful.

Thompson: Camp is going great. I have been training hard and getting good sparring. I have watched tape on Lacy. I have been sparring with a guy Lacy fought in the Olympic trials, Jason Rivelo, and he knows about Lacy. Lacy is a good fighter. He has a lot of talent, but I think this is too much of a step up for him. He will have a bright future.

Lacy: Camp is going great for me. I have had great sparring. I am getting ready. It will be a great fight next Saturday.

Question: Sharmba, will Buddy McGirt be in your corner on Nov. 9?

Mitchell: McGirt will be there to lend his helping hand along with my trainer Marvin Sims. Those two have great chemistry. Marvin and I work well with Buddy. It brings a lot out of me. We have not really been working on any new things. I have been boxing for 24 years, so it is not a matter of working on new things, but putting old things back together.

Question: Sharmba and Vince, what is your game plan for the fight?

Mitchell: The game plan is to go in there and do what I do. I need to fight if I have to fight, win if I have to win, and just focus. The main thing is to win the fight to get back what is rightfully mine.

Phillips: My game plan is not to expose it, but to show it on Nov. 9. I know Mitchell has good movement and speed. That is what I have to cut down. I have to stop him from doing what he wants to do.

Question: Sharmba, will re-injuring your leg be in the back of your mind?

Mitchell: Re-injuring my leg will not be in the back of my mind. That is what I had surgery for, to fix my leg. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. My leg is 80 percent right now. It will never be 100 percent unless I can grow a new leg. I work on it everyday, and I am training with it everyday. It is going to be what it is going to be.

Question: What are your thoughts on your comeback fight after the surgery?

Mitchell: I thought I did really great during the comeback fight on ESPN. I boxed well, but I did not put my combinations together. The next fight, I thought I put my combinations together, but I did not box well. I criticized myself in both fights. This is my third fight back, so I have to put everything together.

Question: Did you find Zab Judah's reaction after losing to Kostya Tszyu interesting, considering his comments about your reaction to losing to Tszyu?

Mitchell: You mean with a tear coming down his eye and him throwing a temper tantrum like a girl? I thought it was funny. Kids are going to be kids. Big-mouthed people are going to be big-mouthed people. I have to take my hat off to his (Judah's) promotional company. They promoted someone that is not on our level, but got him in the position to fight for a title. This is what happens to young fighters that have great promoters. They made him out to be someone he is not.

Question: Vince, what was the key to the Nick Acevedo fight?

Phillips: I have a very good trainer, and no one knows of his expertise. I love going to the gym. I have never wanted to go to the gym so much. That is where it lies with me. On Nov. 9, a lot of it will be showing again. I am about action. I am ready to fight right now. I do not want to talk about it. I am about action.

Question: Sharmba and Vince, why do you think this fight should be an IBF eliminator for Tszyu?

Gary Shaw: I can answer this. One guy beat Tszyu, and the other guy was even before he hurt his knee. These are two guys that are willing to fight one another, and then be willing to fight Tszyu. I am not sure that Mickey Ward and Arturo Gatti want to fight for a title.

Mitchell: I have to go along with Gary. One guy knocked out Tszyu. I was beating him with one leg. Why shouldn't we get another shot? We are willing to fight each other and let Tszyu off the hook by fighting only one of us instead of both of us.

Phillips: I beat Tszyu and took the IBF title from him. I beat Ward. Mitchell beat Millet, who I lost the title to. We have beaten the people that the IBF is putting at the top of their ratings. That should put us in the mix. I beat their world champion and the No. 3 contender. Mitchell beat Millet. They have to recognize us.

Question: Why are you not listed in the IBF's top-15?

Shaw: I think it is for promotional reasons why neither one is rated. These are two great fighters. There is no one in the press that would not say both fighters are legitimate contenders. They are willing to fight one another and that says a lot. Only one of them is going to come out victorious. That shows true heart and makes a true champion. I think the IBF recognizes it. I am not saying they are going to make this the IBF mandatory, but I believe they are sensitive to it.

Sugar Ray Leonard: I can echo Shaw's sentiments. These guys wanted a rematch with Tszyu. These guys are warriors. This is what boxing should be about; champions fighting champions. These guys are willing to fight the best to be the best.

Question: Would you fight the winner of Ward-Arturo Gatti?

Leonard: I am keeping my focus here, and want my guy to win this fight first before I answer.

Shaw: Mitchell will fight anyone. If Mitchell wins this fight and we have to fight winner of Ward-Gatti to get a shot at Tszyu, I would certainly ask Mitchell to take that fight.

Question: Ross, where do you think everything sits in your career?

Thompson: It just comes down to me living up to my ability. I have been a career underachiever. I had a big amateur background coming up. I had a lot of ability and potential. I never have lived up to my ability. It is all about putting it together. I had my bumps and bruises coming up. If I am not going to do it now, I am never going to do it. You never know when someone is going to put it together and be successful.

Question: Jeff, do you approach Thompson with caution?

Lacy: Of course I approach him with caution. I respect him. I am going to have my caution lights up just as I would against any fighter, but especially because he has been around. He has fought a lot of big name fighters. I will just go in and do what I do. I need someone like Ross in my career to get to the next step.

Question: Ross, what are your thoughts on Lacy's comments?

Thompson: This is what he is supposed to think. I think it is a mistake. Lacy is a real promising fighter, but there are a lot of other fighters they could have chosen. I think highly of Lacy, but they put him in a bad situation. A lot of people would not want to put their fighters in this situation. They never know which Ross Thompson is going to show up. If the "real" Thompson is in shape, he is unbeatable.

Question: Gary, is this a risky fight for Lacy?

Shaw: This absolutely is a risky fight. Lacy and Roger Bloodworth know there is a risk. Thompson can fight and swing. He reminds me a lot of Bert Cooper. Lacy could have his hands full. I really believe in Lacy. I do not think they look at him as a guy that can box. I could do what they do with some other fighters who bring their fighters along against bums. I believe you have to believe in your fighter and the fighter has to believe in himself. I am a firm believer that the only fight that counts is the one on Nov. 9. I think he knocks Thompson out, but we will see. I could have put Lacy in another 3- or 4-round fight, but it does not do him any good.

Question: Vince, who is training you?

Phillips: Cassius Green is my trainer. We have been together for the past three fights. We have been training in Hollywood at the Bomb Squad gym.

Question: What advantages do you have over Mitchell?

Phillips: My determination to go in and win the fight is an advantage, and so is my good speed that people underestimate. I am a good boxer-puncher. I know what to do when to do it.

Question: Sharmba, do you have any concerns about fighting Phillips?

Mitchell: I have much respect for a man that picks himself off the ground and gets in the position that he is in. I respect his will to win and the great determination that he has. I have that will to win too. I think Leonard can tell you. We want to win and we will do what it takes to win.

Question: Do both fighters consider that bout a crossroads fight?

Mitchell: I have only viewed this fight in one way. I have viewed this fight that I am going to go in there and win. I cannot look at the next step until I complete the first step.

Phillips: This is a great opportunity for me to take the next step to Tszyu or whomever. I want to go in and knock Mitchell out. I am going to do things to him that never have been done before. He is not Sugar Ray Leonard. I will show him how I am able to free fighters. I have fought some of the best fighters in the world and knocked out Tszyu. It is just a matter of me going in and doing what I have to do.

Question: Sharmba, is your injured knee the same one you hurt a few years ago?

Mitchell: Yes, it is the same knee I hurt a few years ago. My knee was hurting before the Tszyu fight and I tried to get doctors to look at it. It was my decision to go in and fight anyway. I had Tszyu hurt two or three times, but I could not deliver the punch I wanted to because of the pressure on my leg. The leg felt fine at the start of the fight, but the pain would go in and out. After the seventh round, I could not stand up at all because I had no feeling in the leg.

Question: Because of the knee injury, does that cause you to change your boxing style?

Mitchell: My boxing style will be the same. The leg is 80 percent and you work with the wheels that you have.

Shaw: Mitchell's knee is 80 percent, but his head is 100 percent.

Question: Vince, how did you make weight?

Phillips: I made weight by training, eating right and doing what I have to do. I am at weight right now. I weigh 147 pounds. This is a great opportunity, and I am not going to do anything to jeopardize this. I am looking forward to fighting Mitchell. Come Nov. 9, you can run, but you cannot hide.

Question: Gary, what is the contracted weight for the fight?

Shaw: The contracted weight is 141 pounds, give or take a pound.

Question: Vince, is there any extra pressure because of your age?

Phillips: I was told by my people that when I knocked out Tszyu and Sanchez, I was just like wine. I get better with age. I am still very useful. My age does not dictate how I fight. Leonard has given me a great opportunity to showcase what I have. I am not going to let him down.

Question: Sharmba, what are your thoughts?

Mitchell: I have someone in front of me that has the same experience. He is someone that will pick me up to the next plateau.

Question: Should Tszyu be ranked among the top-10 pound-for-pound fighters?

Mitchell: I do not think Tszyu should be ranked among the top-10 pound-for-pound fighters. He has unfinished business. Let me ask you. Do you rate him being the best? I do not think so until he picks up that unfinished business.

Question: Vince, why do you think Tszyu will not fight you?

Phillips: No matter how old I am, I am still too dangerous. I give Mitchell the utmost respect. For Sharmba to step up to the plate, I give him great respect. I do feel he should be in the top-10. They did not give me the opportunity to be pound-for-pound champion. Tszyu beat Mitchell and Judah. I feel he should be in the top-10 pound-for-pound.

Question: Vince, you have learned a lot of good things from Cassius Green. How did you meet up with him?

Phillips: I was getting ready for a fight the night Tszyu knocked out Judah. He was showing me skills that I wanted him to keep giving to me. Just like Krispy Kreme donuts, I want him and need him. I wanted him to take over my career and put me back in position to be a top fighter at 140 pounds. He is a warrior. He teaches me how to win.

Question: Ross, can you give us an update on your weight?

Thompson: My weight is good. I am at 171 pounds right now. In the Aaron Davis fight, they were trying to make me weigh 166, not 168. I came in at 167 ¼. I will be at 167 or 168. I feel really strong. I have been changing my diet. All I have been drinking is water.

Question: Sharmba, since you have the same trainer as Gatti, do you spare with him?

Mitchell: I have not sparred with him. We play golf together. I try to stay apart from Gatti in the gym because we may fight some time. He does not need a speedy southpaw right now.

Question: Vince, do you look back on the Millet fight with regret?

Phillips: I was very foolish. I was champion of the world, but I was partying too much and eating a lot of Krispy Kreme donuts. Now, I am much older and experienced. I take my career a lot more seriously than I did in the past. After I beat Mitchell, I will have a dozen and a half donuts waiting for me in the hotel room.

 

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