BT: Jimmy, let’s talk about the first time you faced Joey Gilbert. It was a very close fight, scored 3-2 by almost everyone who watched the fight, either live or the cut for TV version. “The Contender” portrayed Joey as overcoming injuries to defeat you, while not publicizing your own injuries at all. Tell us what this rematch means to you
. " I’m really happy to be fighting Joey, because of what happened on the show. The first fight was really close, it could have gone either way, and I do think that the editing was accurate, he rallied in that final round, and I’m not made for 5 round fights. I’ve been very, for lack of a better word, tortured over the first fight. It’s been a thorn in my side, I shouldn’t have lost. You can make up many excuses, he was the bigger guy, it was a small ring, whatever, it doesn’t matter. It’s all stuff I knew going in and I signed my name, I have no excuse. Now, I’ve done everything I could to be PERFECT for this fight, and I’m going to win it. Undoubtedly win it, and I’m going to knock him out! You know… (pause) I didn’t talk about any of my own injuries before the fight, and I didn’t talk about them after the fight. So, as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t have any injuries."
BT: Let’s focus on avenging the defeat. I recall watching you fight James Johnson in the Ballroom at Michael’s in an exciting fight and two of the judges robbed you and awarded a draw. The look on your face afterwards, it was as if you had taken a defeat. When you got the opportunity to rematch, you took it into your own hands and whooped him scoring a 5th round TKO. Tell us how important avenging the defeat is to you in this fight.
JL: This has been a very very sore subject with me. I’m not a real big fan of Joey’s. I don’t really like Joey. I think he’s kind of an underhanded guy. Honestly, I don’t really care for him, and I can’t wait to get in there and tear his head off. You’re going to see a different Jimmy Lange, it’s going to be a different situation. I’m going to be able to have a camp and study my opponent with my trainer and prepare for HIM, not for 16 guys. Like a real fight camp, it’s going to be 100% preparation for Joey Gilbert. Everything that he brings, I’m going to have an answer for.
BT: Tell us about your training camp with Buddy McGirt and what benefits are there going down there to Florida to focus and get away from Virginia.
JL: It’s nice because it’s kinda locked down. I got my wife and three kids at home, and you can’t concentrate when you’re around them, I don’t care how disciplined you are or how hard you try. You know, you’re gonna have the cookies and cakes and the kids trying to run around and jump on you, I mean they’re kids, that’s what they do. At camp you get away from all that and basically be in a house by yourself, and do nothing at all but train. I feel I’m getting closer and closer to Buddy. He and I are to the point where we study fights together and talk and have formed a very strong bond. And it’s getting better and better the further along in my career. He has a lot of fighters and it takes a little while to get past his shell. He’s pretty much the same with everybody, but certain guys start to get closer to him, and I honestly believe I’m one of them.
BT: In Virginia, during the early part of your career, it was hard for you to find world class training and sparring in the gym. What has Buddy meant to your career? How are you a different fighter since you’ve been working with him?
JL: He’s taught me a lot. I was at the point in my career that I needed to be taught how to be a ten round fighter, instead of going out in round one and bombing away looking for the knockout, because the KO doesn’t always come. Buddy is a consummate professional, he will have you box all night long and if the knockout doesn’t come, you end up kicking the other guy’s butt for ten or twelve rounds.
BT: This fight is for the NABO middleweight title, so it’s a 12 round fight. You’ve been ten rounds a couple of times and eight rounds quite a few times, while Joey’s never been past six. Do you think that will play a factor in this fight?
JL: I’m not going to make the mistake of doing any sort of underestimating of Joey. His big strength is his athleticism, his physical attributes. I’m going to go in there and whip his ass for 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 rounds. If he goes down earlier than 12, that’s fine. I am not looking for a knockout, but I DO think I will knock him out. But I won’t be surprised if I don’t and I’m not looking for one. I’m looking to give him a boxing lesson like I should have the first time.
BT: You’ve fought most of your career at 150lbs and probably could make Welterweight, while Joey fought most of his career above 165lbs. This fight will be at 160lbs, what are you doing differently to make this weight and how will the size difference factor into the fight?
JL: I am putting on a little bit of weight, doing some good strength training. But mostly it’s just not going to tax my body as much making the 160. My last fight I was at 150 and it’s starting to get tough. I can make 154 easily, but 147 is hard to get down to. I’m taller and have a better reach than Joey. I guess he’s stronger, like weight lifting stronger, but I don’t think he’s the heavier puncher at all. Neither one of us are enormous punchers really. I think I’m the better boxer and he’s more of a slapper. I think if the size is a factor it won’t have to do with punching, it’ll have to do with moving around the ring and holding and stuff like that. I’ll be a tad bigger and the ring will be bigger so I’ll be able to move around more, and I think it’ll be a different fight than the first time.
BT: This is your second fight in a row at the Patriot Center. What’s it like getting to fight in Fairfax, virtually in your own back yard? Also, there’s not too many fight cards in Northern Virginia, how’s it feel to bring boxing back to the forefront in the area?
JL: Oh man, the last card there, it was amazing, the place was rocking. The Washington Times wrote a big article about how the card would fail and it’s not a boxing area. The fans came out in droves! It’s a tribute to me, a tribute to “The Contender”, a tribute to boxing and the promoters. I was very surprised, and I think this time we’re going to do quite a bit better. I’ve had a great following in Virginia, but it’s been sort of a cult following. It’s now gotten to the point where this is world class type boxing.
BT: Who else is on the card?
JL: Jaime “Rocky” Johnson is on the card. She’s a great girl and moves around with me in the ring a lot. She’s an exciting fighter and going to impress the fans, she comes to fight.
BT: One thing that I noticed during “The Contender” is that you seemed to work more corners than any of the other boxers on the show. Do we maybe see a future for you as a trainer after your career?
JL: I was telling the guys the right things to do! Hey man you never know, after I finish with the movie business right! (laughs)