Exclusive Interview: Vernon "The Viper" Forrest

By G. Leon


Exclusive Interview: Vernon "The Viper" Forrest

GL: What's the latest Vernon? "I'm back out in Los Angeles, and I'm ready to start working again. I've been working out this week and my arm is feeling twenty times better than it has been feeling in the past few months. I talked to my manager Al Haymon and have informed him to start talking to HBO because we're definitely looking to get back in there around November. I'm going to be putting in a lot of hard work and I'm just looking forward to getting back in the ring and doing my thing."

GL: From what I hear, the fight with Javier Castillejo still seems to be your next fight. Is that still the fight that Team Forrest plans on pursuing?

Vernon Forrest: "Absolutely. It's a fight that we want, but there's also another few champions out there who we'd be interested in negotiating with. We're not exclusively looking at Castillejo. In the coming months we're going to be talking to quite a few guys out there. When some of these champions see a 404 area code, please pick up the phone."

GL: The WBC was supposed to strip Winky Wright months ago, that never happened and Castillejo still hold the interim title. Defeating him would make you the mandatory hole for the Wright-Mosley II winner. How do you feel about that possibility?

VF: "I've said all along that the true champion, and that's not to knock any other champion, because every time you win a championship in the ring, you're a champion...but the true junior middleweight champion will be coming out of that fight. It would obviosuly be great for me to put myself in the mandatory position so I can make sure that I face the winner of that fight."

GL: Do you expect the rematch between Winky and Shane to go any differently?

VF: "I think it's going to be the same kind of fight. The intensity might be turned up a bit, but for the most part I feel it's going to be the same fight."

GL: When do you expect your injuries to be good as new?

VF: "By fight time. By the time I step in the ring I'm expecting my arm to feel like a brand new arm and I'll be able to fight with one arm instead of two."

GL: Has going to the top of the mountain in 2002, having a lost year in 2003 and injuries keeping you out in 2004 been a humbling experience?

VF: "In terms of humbling, I've pretty much always been a humble person, so it hasn't really been a humbling experience. To me it's been a waste of year, and these injuries forced on me. I was forced to sit. But instead of looking at it as something negative, I actually look at it as a positive thing because it gave me the opportunity to give my body a rest after working through the injury for over five years. When I was getting ready for Teddy Reid I put in a lot of gym work and did a lot sparring, but I'm looking at the whole thing as a blessing in disguise."

GL: Does the way things have played out for you lately place you back in that dark horse role you were in heading into 2002?

VF: "I've been playing that role for a long time. That role is nothing new to me. It's just another opportunity for me to prove myself all over again. Remember, in boxing you're only as good as your last fight. In boxing the entire landscape changes every six months. The difference in my career and I guess a lot of other people's career is that I benefited by being kept in obscurity. In 1992 I was an Olympian, but with all the guys who were on the Olympic Team with me, Oscar De La Hoya, Raul Marquez, Timmy Austin, Larry Donald...those guys were in the spotlight and they were the ones fighting in Main Events, but I was able to hone my skills throughout my entire career on some major undercards. I was fighting in the fifth fight from the top when nobody was in the arena, but I was able to use that time to hone my skills and that really helped me take advantage of my opportunity when it was finally given to me. "

GL: Is winning enough for you, or must you make a statement to let the world know you're back the next time you step through the ropes?

VF: "Absolutely. But I feel that way everytime I go into the ring. You're only as good as your last performance. If you had a masterful performance, then you get rave reviews. When you look like dog crap, people say you look like dog crap...but that's only until your next fight. But then if you come back and look good you're a great fighter. I could give you numerous examples of where this has happened, but I don't want to put anyone on the spot. In boxing, that's just how it is.

GL: You're correct in saying that the winner of Wright-Mosley II is going to be considered the best junior middleweight in the world by most people. You've recently shown interest in fighting the Trinidad-Mayorga winner also. If you had your choice, which of those two fights interests you more?

VF: "That's a no-brainer for me. It's the fight that brings the most excitement and the most money, whichever one that may be. Negotiations will determine which fight that is, and negotiations will determine who is going to be the hotter fights after those wins."

GL: Based on your discussion with Al Haymon, is there any update as to when you might return to the ring?

VF: I can't pinpoint a date, but the date all depends on how healthy I am. The date is predicated on me saying I'm healthy enough and I'm physically ready to get in there and go at it. The reason I'm using November as a benchmark is because I'm expecting to be fully healthy in three months from now.

GL: Is it important for you to get back in the ring before the end of 2004? Because a victory heading into 2005 would certainly be a nice way to you to get some momentum going.

VF: I would really love to get at least a couple of fights in actually. It all depends on how healthy I am. If my arm is pain-free, or I feel I've gotten my full strength back by September, I'd be in the ring late October or early November. This year has been a blur for me. First I'm training and working, then I'm not training or working...You've got to understand this about me G-Man, I'm not a negative thinking kind of person. No matter how bad a situation might be, there's always a positive you can take out of it. So when I look at the loss of this year, I'm not bitter because there's a positive message that can be taken out of this year and that's the fact that I got a chance to rest. My should had been plaguing me for the last five years, and I was forced to get that fixed and let it rest. Now I can be mentally and physically stronger knowing that I'm going into the battle with all of my weapons. I've been going in there knowing that I needed to get off to an early start to take the lead so then I could work on cruise control. But once I get back in there I'm looking for a very, very big year...a very successful 2005 campaign. As you know, what's always driven me are the challenges, and there's some great challenges out there. As long as I'm taking care of my business I'm going to continue to strive for new challenges."

GL: Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?

VF: "Stay tuned and stay wired in to Boxingtalk. Because Boxingtalk is the official network of all boxing information, so just stay tuned and you're definitely going to be hearing from Vernon Forrest's progress real soon."


Send questions and comments to: gleon@boxingtalk.net