Part 1 of a 3 part Cruiserweight interview series
S.S.- I had spoken with you a few days before your fight with O’Neil Bell and you had stated that if you lost that fight you were gonna retire. Are you retired, my friend?
E.S. – Yeah, I think so. It’s not what I wanted to do, I wanted to go on and fight for the championship again but I turned 36 two days before I fought and then I lost. For me to get back to that point again, I’d be 40 years old. It’s all got to do with age, it’s got nothing to do with how I lost or any of that. I feel I was winning the fight, he hadn’t touched me at all up until that point where he hit me behind the head. That’s just the way it went.
S.S. – You had him hurt or dazed in the first round...
E.S. – I hit him a few times in the first round that shook him up. I was boxing him from the outside and he realized that he couldn’t do anything with me out there so he kinda rushed me with a little football type thing with his elbows out. When I got up against the ropes he pressed his elbow against my arm so I couldn’t put my hands up and then he hit me behind the head.
S.S. - What are your plans now that you are retired?
E.S. – I’ve been planning to go back to school, anyway. I’ve been studying for an entrance exam before the fight to be an X-ray technician, so that’s what I’m trying to do.
S.S. – Any thoughts about staying involved in boxing? Maybe as a manager or a trainer?
E.S. – I’m sure that would be a great thing for me to train some fighters cause I do love the game and I would love to get some young, hungry guys to work with. I think it would be real good for me, but it’s just difficult to start off and make a living doing that. I think I would be a great trainer, I just have to get the opportunity.
S.S. – In the last year you have fought both Kelvin Davis and O’Neil Bell. With his win this weekend, it looks like O’Neil will become Kelvin’s mandatory. They had fought before and O’Neil won the first one, what’s your thoughts on a second fight between them?
E.S. – It’s really hard to say because O’Neil’s not a great boxer, he’s strong. I thought Kelvin was winning the first fight until O’Neil did the very same thing to him that he did to me. It’s really hard to say. Kelvin was winning, then he started to get a little tired, but he was winning then O’Neil did the same exact thing to him and they let him get away with it. We weren’t the only two he’s done it to. I even went into his dressing room after the fight and heard his trainer getting on his case about it, telling him “Hey man, you gotta stop doing that kinda stuff”. He told his trainer, as I was walking in, “That was the only thing I could do!!”. I heard this for myself.
S.S. – Was there any thoughts of complaint or speaking to the commission about it, about a shot to the back of the head?
E.S. – The thing is, that night after it happened, I was very woozy and groggy. I wasn’t thinking and I believe that it would be a little late now. A case of sour grapes, they would think I was only trying to get another crack at it. And I don’t, I’ve wanted to get out of the game for quite a while, but the money opportunity was there that I couldn’t just throw it away. I’ve had so many problems, physically, that people have no idea about. I just had the surgery on my neck, a ruptured disk in my neck right where he hit me. I got disk problems with my lower back, I had my ACL ruptured in this game. So, I was on borrowed time anyway. I’m grateful for what I got and that’s just the way it is.
S.S. – I had spoken to you after the Kelvin Davis fight and you had told me then that you were retiring. Then Don King came along and basically said “Let’s see what we can do for you” and you came back and fought O’Neil Bell. Now you are telling me that you are retiring… What will you do if Don King comes around again and says “Let’s see what we can do for you”?
E.S. - It’s over. What happened after the Kelvin Davis fight, I was talking about retiring but I never really did the whole official retirement thing. I never did anything, I just talked about it, because I was still waiting for the right opportunity to come. And usually, with me, when I lose the opportunity comes. As long as I’m winning and knocking fellas out…..no-one wants to mention my name. So, I guess these guys now, they got me at the right time.
S.S. – You know how it is….. The guy without the title who is knocking everyone out, no-one wants to fight him…
E.S. – That’s right, they didn’t want anything to do with me. If I had been with Don King then, even just five years ago, I would have been champ very easily. I knew both the guys who were champ back then and I beat the hell out of both of them, as often as I wanted to. I treated Al Cole like he was my stepson and he was champ for a very long time. I know what I was capable of doing when my time was right, but I didn’t get these opportunity until now when my capabilities are fading. It’s not gone, I can still fight now but why? Why? I’m not gonna be a millionaire off this game so at 36 time is getting late. And I refuse to be like a lot of other guys who just keep hanging around and hanging around.
S.S. – Like Evander Holyfield.
E.S. – Yeah…like Evander Holyfield, except he’s got money and doesn’t need to fight. He just wants to do it. But guys like Arthur Williams they hang around and will never get a legitimate title shot, they are just gonna be opponents. That’s just not for me. If I cant be the class guy or just one of the top five it’s time to go.
S.S. – You know, you were the first guy I ever interviewed and now I’m catching you at the end, when you are retiring. It’s sad to see you go, but it’s also great to see you go cause you are going with all your senses. We never want to see anyone get hurt and it’s great to see someone have their career and get out without any damage. The longer you are in the game, the greater your chances are of getting hurt…..
E.S. – Nobody that I’ve ever seen get hurt in boxing has ever gotten hurt with one punch. It’s an accumulation of years and years of punches. This was my first time, whether the punch was legal or not, this was the first time that I had ever gone out. I’ve always been able to avoid punches like that or just get away somehow or just survive it somehow. This time I wasn’t O.K…that’s indication enough.
S.S. – Yeah….what about in a situation where you are out and still standing, being held up by the ropes…..
E.S. – I would have gotten hit more and more and that’s when guys get really hurt cause they don’t know they are getting hurt. They have been hit enough that their heads are woozy and they are not feeling anything and so by the time you are all beat to hell, your family is standing over you crying and you don’t know what’s going on. Better to leave now…. I still have a very good head on my shoulders and I’ll let that work for me better than being a punching bag.
I wish Ezra all the luck in the world with his schooling and his new career. It’s great to see a guy leave on his feet, without taking the beating, without needing the wheelchair. We don’t need anymore Meldrick Taylors or Greg Pages, we need more people leaving the game like Ezra Sellers and like Lennox Lewis. Good Luck, Ezra!!!