Exclusive Interview: Lou Duva

By Brad Cooney


Exclusive Interview: Lou Duva

Boxingtalk.com sits down with the living legend, Lou Duva. In this exclusive interview Lou Duva talks about the way boxing used to be, and the way boxing is today. Lou talks in depth about what the sport needs to do in order to improve it's mainstream status. Lou Duva has been in boxing for over 60 years, and he has plenty to say about the sport of boxing. Lou also talks about his current stable, and he gives us his thoughts on the condition of the Heavyweight division, and much more!

BT - Lou first of all, Boxingtalk.com is honored to have you with us this evening.

LD - Hey, it's good to be here.

BT - Lou there is so much to talk to you about, I don't even know where to start (laughs). I guess to start off, let's talk about what you got going on right now with your current fighters.

LD - I got Mike Marrone (13-0-10KO) he fights on the 28th, and we have Samuel Peter's fight coming up. I also have Oscar Diaz fighting on ESPN in June. I have this kid Shauna George (11-0-5KO-2D) he's fighting on May 10th on ESPN, he's a kid that I expect a lot from, he wont the New York Golden Gloves 3 times.

BT - Lou did you see the Lamon Brewster vs Serguei Lyakhovich fight?

LD - Yup, I saw hit. We would fight the Russian if we could. I don't think there would be a problem with that, but it's about making matches that's the only thing. Right now, would he fight for the title, no? fighters and trainers don't want to fight each other anymore, they are only looking for what's best for them, and it's only getting tougher and tougher.

BT - Lou do you think the sport of boxing will ever go back to the way it used to be?

LD - I would really like it see it back how it was when I was going strong in the 80's and 90's. I would like to see NBC, CBS, ABC show boxing for free. The fighters were getting about $ 75,000.00 for a main event. Now, fighters want like a million and a half dollars for the same God dang thing. There aren't that many spots out there now, you have HBO, ESPN, and Showtime. It looks like boxing is going to Pay Per View, and I can't see people paying $ 49.95 for a show. I think it should be commercial, and the sponsorships pay for it. You don't  know what kind of fights you are going to get, you know? Before if you didn't like the fight, you shut it off, but now you pay $49.00 bucks, and you're stuck.

BT - Lou you have been in boxing a long time, what's the first thing you would do to fix boxing if you could?

LD - Well (pause).... there are so many things Brad. There are so many things that need to be done, I guess number 1 would be, I would sit down with ESPN, and the three major stations NBC, ABC, CBS, and work out some shows with them so kids have a chance to fight, and not have to wait, and wait, and wait for a major promoter to come along. Once these kids sign with a major promoter, they can't go no place else, it's rough. Right now
the people deserve to see one thing out there, and that's good fights. Last night was a good fight, there's no doubt about it, that kind of thing. Not to put on two or three fights that you have under contract, and they are so so fights, and you have to pay $ 49.95, I don't think that's fair to the public. I would like to see small clubs come back again, and give these kids some fights, let them build up their experience. There are so many things that have to be done. Today they have lost touch, television and the promoters have lost touch.

BT - Lou our recent Olympians aren't doing as well as they used to do either, what are your thoughts on what the amateur level of boxing can do?

LD - That's right, they are not giving the kids enough work, not enough fights. The Olympics come once every 4 yrs, there are some states that are active like New Jersey, but 4 yrs is a tough time to hold on to an amateur fighter. If you are not training him right, and you're not moving him right it's tough. I think they should put on more fights all over the country, and have more tournaments. There are a lot of car companies out there, and a lot of hotels that could be putting up more money to sponsor these shows but they are not doing it. Also, I think they should allow pro trainers to help out with these young kids. They say you have to be an amateur trainer to work with the kids, that's bull! I mean, teach these kids how to fight, that's the main purpose.

BT - I have talked to several Olympians, and they all say that they wished that they could have brought their coaches with them.

LD - I think they should be given the opportunity to bring their coach with them. Boxing is a mind game too, remember it's not just physical. Anyone can teach a kid to throw a jab, or a right hand. Who catches the fighters mind, who does the fighter trust, and have confidence with? Their coach, that's who.

BT - Lou who was the greatest fighter that you have ever worked with?

LD - (pauses) - Boy, well there was Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, these are great fighters.

BT - Lou, you mentioned Evander Holyfield. Evander still wants to fight, what are your thoughts on Evander's decison to keep fighting at this point of his career?

LD - I think Evander should stay in boxing, but not as a fighter. When we broke off our relationship, there was no animosity. I was going to get Evander a job with the Olympic committee for a dollar a year. You say, a dollar a year? Well, Evander had millions anyway. The Olympic committee was going to send him all over the world, all expenses paid, as the Ambassador to represent the U.S. Olympic team. You can't beat that! What better representative than Evander Holyfield, a good clean cut guy, who knows what it's all about. Evander would have been an asset to the USA.

BT - Lou I asked Roy Jones Senior one time why he thinks Roy Jones Jr still wants to fight, he told me boxing is like a drug to some of these guys, and that they need to detox off of it. What are your thoughts about guys like Evander, and Roy Jones Jr and their desire to keep fighting?

LD - I think that's right. I send my fighters to school, Shauna George, he passed school and became a para-legal. I have Oscar Diaz going to school for Accounting. I have sent guys to school that have become doctors, and lawyers. You have got to give these guys something that they can rely on beyond boxing. If they don't have anything else to fall back on, that's when they get in trouble.

BT - Alex Ramos runs a foundation called the Retired Boxers Foundation, have you heard of it?

LD - He does a good job, Alex was one of my guys too. We need organizations like that, they should be sponsored and underwritten. I have a friend of mine down in Baltimore who has a big construction business, he can't get workers for 10 to 15 dollars an hour! He can't get workers. He opened up a gym and he has fighters coming to the gym, and he sends them up here to work with.

BT - Give me your thoughts on today's Heavyweight division.

LD - Only if a star arises will that division be where it used to be. You got a problem now where you have Don King that has his fighters not going to fight nobody elses fighters, unless he takes them over. You also have Bob Arum, and Dan Goosen, the same thing. I mean come on, for Christ sake, those guys aren't even Heavyweights. Walk down the street today, and ask people who the Heavyweight Champion is, they don't know! They don't know, before you knew it was Joe Louis, you knew it was Rocky Marciano. Too many classes now also, there used to be only 8 
classes. You know who the Heavyweight champ was, you knew who the Light Heavyweight champ was, not today.

BT - Lou, how long have you been in boxing?

LD - I have been in boxing over 60 years.

BT - Lou, thats a long time.

LD - I like what I do, you know? It's my life.

BT- Lou what got you into this sport?

LD - My brother was a fighter, he was the Jersey champ. In the 30's I would work 12 hours a day, and then train at night. I used to go to the gym with my brother. I learned the hard way, I learned by going to the old Gleason's gym. I wouldn't watch the fighters though, I would watch the managers, and the trainers. I would sit down with the media, and figure out what they were thinking. That's the way I learned, the fighters were the last thing. The fighters were the product that you had to take care of though, they had to be developed.

BT - Talk about guys like Freddie Roach, and Buddy McGrirt. These are the new generation trainers, I am interested in your thoughts on them.

LD - Those guys were both good fighters, they hung out in gyms. We fought Buddy for the title, we beat him, he beat us. These guys are both from the gym, they know boxing. Freddie a former fighter, opened up a gym, and he knows boxing, so it works for him.

BT - Lou in closing, talk to the boxing fans out there.

LD - If you're a fight fan out there, keep watching the fights. Sooner or later we are going to have another Marciano, or another Joe Louis, it's going to happen. It's just a matter of time, keep watching the sport, and learn the sport, learn what the sport of boxing is all about.

BT - Lou it's an honor to talk to you, thank you very much for your time.

LD - Thanks Brad, thank you.


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