Exclusive Interview: Gary Balletto

By James Alden


Exclusive Interview: Gary Balletto

JA: I know that you watched the first season of the contender Gary. Tell us what it was like being on the show yourself? "It was a lot different than I expected. It was a great time in my life; it was also a great experience. Never again will I live again under those conditions. I was living with 15 other guys who have had a lot in common, a lot of those guys grew on me and I took a liking too all of them. It was something that I will never forget."

JA: Was it hard for you to fight some of the guys because you lived with them?

GB: No I had no trouble fighting the guys. There was no need to be mean to the guys that you were going to fight.

JA: Your first fight on the show was against Aaron Torres. How did it feel for you to get back in the ring in over two years?

GB: Going into the fight I thought that I was going to knock this kid out, that was in my mind and that was my mentality. The way that I fight, if I catch this guy I can knock him out. Sometimes you can’t catch the guy and you can’t land that one big punch. As you know every fighter on the show is a great fighter, so my game plan didn’t work to my advantage.

JA: You’ve fought Aaron Torres and in your next fight you fought Norberto Bravo. How many days was it between fights?

GB: It was 12 days from the first fight to the second fight.

JA: Was it weird for you too fight on such short notice?

GB: It was and plus I went into the fight with stitches over my right eye, and stitches under my chin. I knew that the cuts would open right back up in the next fight so that is why I wanted to take as much time as I needed to take to try to let it heal as much as possible. We had to fight with or without the stitches; I wasn’t going to walk away because of a cut.

JA: Tell us about your fight with Norberto Bravo and do you think that you got the best of Norberto?

GB: I felt like I won the first round, I felt that I won the third round. The last round was close and I knew that it could have gone to him. I am not disputing the decision but I am just disappointed because I know that if I didn’t have my two year layoff I would have done a lot better. My timing was off a bit and I missed my big shot.

JA: Did you think that you hurt him in the fight?

GB: Yeah I thought that I hurt him. The guys told me that he said that he never been hit that hard before, and that was with my jab. Like I said I missed with the big shot that I was looking for. I made a mistake by trying to slug it out with him; I know that I could beat Bravo easily in a boxing match.

JA: How has your life changed since being on the contender?

GB: It’s unbelievable. There is not a place that I don’t go where people don’t know who I am. Everyone knows who Gary Balleto is.

JA: Is that one of the reasons why you started fighting was so that everyone knows who you are?

GB: Not necessarily, I never thought of it like that. That is what the contender does for you; it gives you a lot of notoriety and publicity. I always thought that I was going to be a world champion and make a lot of money doing that. That never happened.

JA: Or it hasn’t happened yet?

GB: Yeah you are right. I can take it or leave it right now at this point in my life. If I don’t fight again, so be it. If I get a fight that makes sense, I will take it.

JA: Tell us what the latest is with you possibly fighting on October 14th?

GB: They offered me first to fight on the contender finale, which is what I was training for. They were talking about me fighting a couple of guys who I am friendly with, I am not going to fight them for the money that they were offering me. I said that I would like to knock Aaron Torres out on the finale; they told me that everyone wants to fight Aaron; he is the arrogant guy on the show. Then they called me and asked me if I’d rather fight in Providence, you can have a co main event spot, it would pay double the money and it’s in your own hometown. I told them yes I am interested and that took my mind off fighting on the contender finale. Then I didn’t hear from them for about a week. I called them, still couldn’t get through. I ended up getting through to them through Jimmy Burchfield. I got the answers that I was looking for, they wanted me to fight on the under card in a six round fight after they already offered me the 10 round spot. I told them forget it.

“There were a lot of names that you could have used to promote the fight for me coming back to Providence. It could have been “Tiger’s back”. There are a lot of words in boxing that I don’t even want to hear and those words are “That’s a good fight, that is good stepping stone.” or “This is good exposure for up and coming fights”. I heard them my whole career and if I need another stepping stone then I don’t want to fight no more. I think that I’ve been through all my stepping stone fights, I fought on national television nine times excluding the contender.”

JA: Do you have any regrets of not taking boxing full time?

GB: No I don’t have any regrets because I am happy where I am at in my life right now. I never had the opportunity to box full time because I always had to make a living. It would have been nice if someone said, “Hey here is a bunch of money and go train for a year”. I don’t look back on that and regret it.

JA: Do you still have the goal of becoming a world champion?

GB: If I really set my mind to doing that I know that I can do it. I don’t really care if I do or I don’t.

JA: Have you talked to the contender brass and do they have anything in line for you?

GB: No they haven’t said anything too me except for those two fights.

JA: How many more years do you have left on your contract with the contender?

GB: I believe I have five years left on the deal. They can let me out of the deal, or offer me so many fights a year if I want them. If I don’t want to fight, I don’t have too. I am not worried about the contract.

JA: Peter Manfredo Jr. vs. Joey Spina is going to happen on October 14th. Let me get your thoughts on the fight?

GB: I know both of these guys for a long time. Joey is with me and goes to my gym; I want Joey to win even though I like Peter. I am going to stay neutral and let the best man win. I might be in Joey’s corner for this fight. I am leaning more to Joey’s side than I am towards Peter. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like Peter.


Send questions and comments to: jamesalden@Boxingtalk.com