Exclusive Interview: Mackie Shilstone

By Krishen Rangi

12/06/2008

Exclusive Interview: Mackie Shilstone

Is nutrition a bigger issue for big fighters than little ones since little ones starve themselves to make weight? Muscle is performance weight. As you lose muscle weight you compromise your immune system. I don't like to take on an athlete who has to lose muscle. You compromise your energy. You lose your muscle glycogen. Glycogen deplete athletes will tell you (afterwards) they knew the shot was there, they just couldn't make it happen.


Haye versus Klitschko is a big man versus a very big man. Haye naturally walks around at 220, but fights at 200. Klitschko walks around probably at 250. How would Haye maintain his speed putting on weight to fight at 220, and how would his speed, agility, and movement be affected?

You know it may not. If he adjusts his body composition it may be an advantage. At cruiserweight you're already having a sub heading of heavyweight. It depends how high he's moving up. You don't have to be as big as Klitschko to beat Klitscko as long as you're a powerful puncher. Klitschko doesn't have great balance. He tends to reach and lean. To be a powerful human being you don't have to be big. The issue is how quickly you can deliver your strength. When you're talking about Klitschko he's kind of a sitting duck. When you're moving up to face him you want to be mobile. You want to come at him at 45 degree angles, then he's not as mobile. Right now there are not a lot of great heavywights to pick from. The talent level is not what it was. If you take Klitschko when I had Bowe, Bowe would have destroyed him. Bowe was light on his feet and he was quick. But Klitschko is a very smart man. He has a doctorate in sports science. Every rung you move up they tend to punch harder. I've worked with the Riddick Bowes, a big guy who beat Holyfield who weighed 205. Yet you can see Holyfield moved up and beat bigger guys. So it's a matter of utilizing your ability to generate power. What you don't want to sacrifice is your handspeed. Michael SpinksĀ  was outweighed by 35 lbs when he beat Larry Holmes and he beat him, and against Cooney he was down by 55 lbs and he beat him. Whatever your competitive advantage you want to maintain that, you want to empahsize it. The bigest mistake fighters make changing weights is they try to become something else.


What happens if the weight is not added right?

Well number one if you don't put it on properly it goes in the abs, you don't rotate well. Boxing is all about rotaion. Your power comes from the roatation. Number two you end up puting on fat. Fat is something you carry around. Muscle is somthing that carries you around. Another thing that happens is they resmeble bodybuilders. There are a whole lot of variables. I've been very lucky I've worked with great fighters. The main thing is to never compromise the attributes that made them great prior. When Hopkins fought Tarver we actually early on built Bernard up to 183, and eventually to 185. We got him accustomed to fighting in the 183-185 range. We got it to keep him there. As the training went we slowly came down the Sunday before the fight. We came down to 179 that Sunday after the sparring. From 179 he slowly came down. He still ate 3 meals a day. His body rebounded at 182 (after the weigh-in).


How much of an issue is a fighter moving up taking the naturally bigger guy's shots. What have Spinks, Jones, Hopkins, guys like that said about their ability to absorb punches at higher weights?

I don't know of any fighter in the business of taking punches. Depends on the fighter if he has the power to take the punches. It's as much mental as it is physical. In the Jones/Ruiz fight we wanted to break his nose, that was the plan. We knew Ruiz had broken his nose in the Holyfield fight, and Roy broke his nose in the 6th round. He couldnt breathe out of it after that.


What happened to Roy Jones when he went back down to light-heavyweight to fight Tarver after you had helped him move up and beat Ruiz for the heavyweight title?

You have to remember Roy is such a talented athlete. The muscle that was put on is very difficult to take off. It was a very tough fight. Draining to anyone but he ended up winning. The same thing happended to Tarver when he did the Rocky movie. He was in the 220s then he came down and he was compromised against Bernard. I would have liked to see Roy stay at heavyweight, and I told him that. I think Roy would have beaten Tyson. I think Roy would have beaten Holyfield, but the fights weren't there. Muscle is not easy to take off, it affects your immune system.


How much did Roy weigh for the Ruiz fight?

200 lbs.


There was a story circulating he had weights in his pocket and he really weighed 193.

Before we went down for the weigh-in we were all kidding what Roy would weigh. Roy had been in the range of 199-200. What happned was Roy got on the scale and a fight broke out between Alton Merkerson and Ruiz's camp. Mark Ratner who was doing the weigh-in never let the scale adjust because the fight had broke out. I know Mark, and told him that's not his weight you should correct it. When Roy went to the hotel room and got on the scale he was laughing and saying "I can't believe it". He takes his shirt off and steps on the scale, and this is on the documentary ESPN did called "The Sweet Science". Mark Ratner was there too. I told him to call HBO so they wouldn't think it was rebound weight and they mentioned that on the broadcast.


Were you with Spinks for the Tyson fight?

I was there with him. It was basically a body shot that put Michael down. It wasn't a head shot. Tyson was the epitome of power. Short tight blows where he did not extend his arms. Very tight arms, very short range. Delivered at very short range. Tyson got in close to you so he could rotate.


The best punches are short?

If you extend your arm it's not as powerful as if you have leverage on it.


You've been very successful implementing your methods in maximizing performance. But there really is a lot to boxing that goes beyond really easy explanation.

It takes a unique person to be a boxer. Heavyweight lineage is unlike anything. MMA will never apporach the art of boxing. The art of boxing requires that individual to have a bigger focus, believe in a higher power. It is very close to non-heroic war, basically a theater. It is controlled violence, basically just a Geneva convention. It's basically life: euphoria, pain, fear, happiness, anguish. You live them through the course of the rounds. Boxing taught me more than any other sport I have worked with.


What did Hopkins say after the Calzaghe fight? Is he going to fight again?

I don't know if he is. I thought that third judge was an amateur, he came from the amateurs and that's the scoring system he used. You don't take a title from someone on a split decision. I think boxing wanted Bernard out. They want to see Calzaghe fight Roy Jones. I can tell you Calzaghe didn't scathe Bernard. The ring was littered with blood and it was all Calzaghe's. I think Bernard broke his nose. There was a knockdown in the first round. Also if you look at the two low blows, one of them actually knocked Bernard's cup out of place. Boxing wanted Bernard out. If you look at Calzaghe he fights like an amateur, he just touches you. Enzo Calzaghe came up to Freddy Roach to congratuatle him after the fight because he thought Hopkins had won.


How would you improve a fighter who doesn't want to move up or down in weight, just wants to maximize what they have?

Richard Schaeffer approached me through Bernard to talk about me coming in for Oscar De la Hoya for the (upcoming) Mayweather fight. Basically what I do now after 25 years is if there is a particular challenge I come in as a special consultant. We do these sophisticated analysis, we do CAT scans, we check their heart rates, custom design eating plans.


Who are the fighters you admire?

If I was going to paint the ulitimate fighter I'd probably have the heart of Spinks...the ones I've had...discipline of Hopkins, overall athleticism of Roy Jones Jr, joviality of Riddick Bowe. Even though he was a pain he had us laughing all the time