I was recently afforded the opportunity to speak to one of the most legendary promoters in the sport, a man who has been inducted into the boxing hall of fame, none other than Don King. In this special “On The Ropes” interview I discuss with Don the possibility of the Guillermo Jones vs. Denis Lebedev bout winning fight of the year, and how that fight compares to some of the other candidates. I also get Don’s thoughts on Vitali Klitschko vacating his WBC belt and allowing #1 contender Bermane Stiverne to fight for the title. Additionally, I get King’s promoter perspective on if he believes Mayweather vs. Pacquiao can happen in 2014. Here is what Don King had to say.
Jenna: Don when it comes to fight of the year, there are a bunch of good contenders, and one of your fighters was involved in one of them and is getting some recognition. How do you feel about people considering Jones-Lebedev for fight of the year?
Don King: Well you know, I really respect and appreciate that. That is a wonderful thing and I think it’s right on the money. I think Guillermo Jones did a tremendous job in that fight and it was just a great fight from both ends. Fighters make fights and styles make fights, so both were cooperative, with Lebedev fighting like he did and then Jones exceeding in knocking him out.
No one had to make that decision, the fighter himself made the decision by taking a knee, it wasn’t the referee, it wasn’t the judges. None of those had anything to do with it, and that really makes it unparalleled, because the fighter himself fought with all he had. I’m very happy about that, very elated and again, it gives boxing what boxing richly deserves.
Jenna: Broner-Maidana recently took place and is getting some buzz as well. How do you think that fight compares to your fighters match?
King: They told me that he(Adrien Broner) got knocked down two or three times and he was dethroned. Maidana did his job, according to the results I’m hearing. I don’t think it’s alike to the Lebedev-Jones fight, that’s something that Lebedev would have won had it went to the score cards.
It was really a terrific give and take fight all the way through, and just from sheer guts and being able to stand and trade, undeniably the type of intestinal fortitude that is shown in the sport of boxing. That’s what made boxing what it is, it’s man to man, you can’t call time out and send in the substitute. If you run out of petrol, there’s no gas station in sight.
You have to deal with your problems forthrightly, you know what I mean? It’s right in front of you, there’s no procrastination, you got to be able to deal with the destiny of a fight. That’s what makes boxing the great sport that it is.
Jenna: Vitali Klitschko recently vacated his WBC belt, and now Bermane Stiverne, a fighter from your stable is the #1 contender to fight for the belt. How do you feel about how everything has played out?
King: Bermane has been waiting and waiting while Vitali was waiting on making his mind to do this and to retire and make that magnanimous decision. I’m very happy for Vitali, and I’m happy for Bermane. We have suffered with waiting for over a year, for what is justly and richly deserved.
I think with the imponent wisdom of the WBC, I think that justice will prevail in making Bermane the champion to go out there and deal with it because he has been such an arduous performer, dedicated and committed with loyalty, dedication and commitment to the WBC. I think this is something that the world will recognize in the wisdom in the WBC, the number one boxing organization in the world.
Jenna: Don, you’re best known for all the heavyweight champions that you’ve had through your career, working with Mike Tyson, and Muhammad Ali. What would it mean to you to once again have a heavyweight champion in your stable?
King: What it would mean to me would just be exhilarating and that’s what we’re gonna have with Bermane Stiverne. He’s gonna be the heavyweight champion and we’re gonna revitalize and resurrect the glory, the fame, the acclaim of yesteryear and bring it to the sport today in the heavyweight division. As the heavyweights go, so does boxing. People didn’t believe that, no one but Jose Sulaiman and myself.
You could see the discombobulation of boxing as it stands today when you don’t have a heavyweight champion that can capture the imagination of the people and be with the pulse of the people and relate and identify with the people. Those champions are vitally necessary and needed.
I think Bermane has that opportunity to step into those shoes and do just that, along with our team and team Bermane, we will be able to emulate that and demonstrate that. It will be something great to bring heavyweight back into force. You’re gonna find little guys that are great, little men are giants too and we’re gonna be able to have an opportunity to demonstrate that.
Jenna: Stiverne has to fight Chris Arreola in a rematch to win the title. What do you think of the challenge he has in front of him?
King: The giant that stands there waiting and running the path of greatness is Bermane Stiverne. All he has to do is just rise to the occasion because the way he beat Arreola, it was like a little spanking. You can never adjust to something like that, especially as tough as Arreola is supposed to be.
I think that until he’s demonstrated the greatness that’s in store for you as the viewer, to be the recipient of a guy who comes from the bottom rung of the ladder, dealing with all the different idiosyncrasies of life, to rise to the occasion to be the champion with the right to say, “Yes I can” when everyone else says “No you can’t.”
Jenna: Don you have put together some of the biggest fights in boxing history and you tried your hand at putting together Mayweather-Pacquiao in the past. Do you think in 2014 we can finally see those two meeting in the ring?
King: Yes it could happen! Boxers are people and people are boxers and sometimes you get caught up in the position of money, and you got to be able to deal with what’s the real power. Dealing with them, you have to deal with real human beings, because the fighters are sophisticated and intelligent and they want what their just due is, so we got to negotiate and compromise.
You got to give them a chance to be respected, that’s something you have to be able to deal with, that’s why I think I can make any match and make things happen that wouldn’t happen without us, cause I consider you as a human being. I’m very happy that them two guys are looking to be looked upon with such acclaim and such fame.
I’m looking forward to seeing those two guys meet if that’s what they want, although the tarnish has been there because of Pacquiao’s depression and distraughtness of not being able to fight Mayweather has caused him to lose a couple of times. I think they would still want to see that fight because that’s one they would get ready for and both of these guys work dedicatedly and committedly. I think Floyd Mayweather is the best fighter in the world today.