Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with John Scully, who is one of the most respected trainers, boxing analysts and historians in the sport. Scully has trained the likes of Mike Oliver and Chad Dawson to world title belts. A variety of topics were discussed in this interview, which include Bermane Stiverne and his future as HW champion, Adonis Stevenson’s recent win and a potential future fight with Sergey Kovalev. Here is what John Scully had to say in part 1 of his interview.
Robert Brown: The heavyweight division had the title fight recently between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne. Can you give us your thoughts on that fight?
John Scully: I didn’t see the whole thing, but I saw enough of it. Stiverne obviously did well — he’s a force in the game now, he’s set himself up in a nice position. I think (Wladimir) Klitschko is still the man to beat at heavyweight. I didn’t really see anything to make me believe that he’s gonna overcome Klitschko at this point.
Robert Brown: Stiverne sat back a lot on the ropes, waiting for a countering opportunity. Will Stiverne have to come forward against Wilder instead of laying back on the ropes like he did with Arreola?
John Scully: Yeah I would definitely not recommend that with Deontay Wilder. Wilder is a huge man, he’s a very formidable man. A lot of people are skeptical — boxing fans by nature are skeptical, but there’s no question in my mind that Deontay Wilder’s power is real. There’s no question about that.
I don’t think anybody would lay on the ropes with him — even Muhammad Ali I don’t think would lay on the ropes with him like he did with George Foreman. It’s just not smart boxing, it would be a huge risk and a foolish risk to try to do that.
Robert Brown: If Wilder and Stiverne face off, who would you be backing in that contest?
John Scully: Honestly, I’m not saying Wilder is he next Klitschko or the next George Foreman but I give him a lot more credit and I have more belief in him than a lot of people do. I think he’s legit, I think he’s improving and I know for a fact that he has a good camp.
He has a good corner, they really work on things, with Mark Breland and Russ Anber. They’re in camp and I know they’re improving him — they’re not just resting on their laurels and trying to just make a big payment. I know for a fact that they are working with him on the things he needs to improve. If I had to bet, I would go with Deontay to win.
Robert Brown: Adonis Stevenson had a title defense against Andrzej Fonfara, it was more difficult than a lot of people thought. What were your thoughts on that fight?
John Scully: Well, you’re not gonna knock everybody out, that’s one of the first things you learn in the gym. One of the first thing you teach any amateur boxer when they first come in, he learns that probably within his first week and a half of being in a gym, that you’re not gonna knock everybody out — especially when they start knocking everybody out, that’s when you have to really teach them that that’s not going to happen.
Adonis has been on a heck of a knockout tear but he met that guy that can take his punch. We always train our fighters to assume that their opponent will be able to take their punch and you have to have the skills to compensate for the power not working on a particular night.
I’m glad he got pushed, I think he answered some questions about what would happen if he was in a tough, long, lengthy fight and if he met with some opposition and some resistance. On the one hand it was very good for him, but with public perception — anybody that felt he was gonna beat (Sergey) Kovalev, now they have more doubts than they did before, because of the way the fight went.
Robert Brown: Do you think Stevenson moved to Showtime because he’s afraid of Kovalev slightly, or do you think it was about maximizing his earning potential against Bernard Hopkins?
John Scully: At that level I can’t say I honestly believe these guys are afraid of other men. They’re afraid of not making the money that they deserve for the fight. If that money is there, they’re gonna fight, that fight will happen.
The fighters at that level have people behind them that have a stake in it and it’s not just the fighter and it’s not just what he wants, it’s what the management who’s put in a lot of money guiding their career wants and knows is best. That’s why baseball teams — the New York Yankees — the players don’t decide what happens, Steinbrenner and whoever is in charge now, they decide what happens.
I don’t see fear, I don’t think Adonis ran around trying to avoid this guy. He knows that it’s a big fight when it happens, but you got to maximize your earning potential at the same time because unlike most careers, boxers just have 10 years, maybe 11 years, maybe only 5 of those years are gonna be really lucrative years for you. At the end of the day they got to maximize their potential, earning potential.
Robert Brown: As you know we’ve had some big fights worth a lot of money in recent years that haven’t happened, like Mayweather-Pacquiao. Do you think Stevenson-Kovalev will eventually happen?
John Scully: Normally I would say, “Oh yeah it’s definitely gonna happen, it makes sense, of course it’s going to happen,” but the fact that Mayweather and Pacquiao haven’t fought — which boggles my mind — this fight at light heavyweight may never happen. But by the same token, they’re looking to make the most money possible, and they’re not gonna have a 50 million dollar payday like Pacquiao and Mayweather would have.
If they want to make the most money and they don’t have so many options, hopefully that leads to the fight happening. With the way Pacquiao and Mayweather are going, I don’t put anything past anybody in the business, as far as who they fight and who they don’t fight.
Stay tuned to ontheropesboxing.com for part 2 of John Scully’s interview!