McKinley: Ray Austin is a new man


McKinley: Ray Austin is a new man

Stacey McKinley Helped Transform Top-Ranked Heavyweight Samuel Peter; Claims to Have Worked Similar Magic for Ray Austin Prior to IBF Showdown  with Champion Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday in Mannheim, Germany

MANNHEIM, Germany-International Boxing Federation heavyweight mandatory challenger Ray "The Rainman" Austin arrived in Mannheim, Germany, on Thursday to make final preparations before meeting IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko at the SAP Arena in a match televised live in America on HBO Saturday at 4:45 p.m. ET/1:45 p.m. PT and replayed at
10 p.m. ET/PT.

Austin (23-3-4, 16 KOs) has been training for the first time under the guidance of Stacey McKinley, the man responsible for the remarkable transformation of Samuel "The Nigerian Nightmare" Peter prior to his second fight with James "Lights Out" Toney on Jan. 6.  Peter, literally, did not look like the same man that barely got past Toney just four months earlier and called the training camp where he showed such great improvement, "the best of my life."

Only eight pounds lighter for the second fight, Peter had also converted a considerable amount of fat to heavier muscle, resulting not only in more stamina, but a boxer lighter on his feet.

McKinley says the same thing has happened with Austin, a fighter who will stand eye-to-eye with Klitschko at 6 foot 6 inches and has about the same reach.

"Ray has always been a big, strong, rangy heavyweight," McKinley said, "just ask anybody who has ever sparred with him.  Now we took this man out of Cleveland and secluded him in South Florida for an extended training camp just like we did with Sam Peter.

"I'm telling you Ray Austin is a dangerous man right now.  I'm feeling an upset brewing."

McKinley is an Old School trainer, fond of having his fighters chop wood (a sledgehammer on an old tractor tire was the substitute for Austin), push heavy cars through parking lots from the rear, and log plenty of road work every morning.

"My training techniques help fighters to not only get into shape but to get them to the point where they can actually feel it, which helps them with the mental part of the equation as well."

Austin already looks different after training with McKinley since Jan. 8.  His face and neck are chiseled, much like lower-weight-division fighters often look.  His pants are falling off of him.  A few weeks ago, Austin wondered if he might be overshooting the runway.

"When I started weighing under 240 pounds I started to eat more," Austin said before quipping, "I'm training to win a fight, not a marathon."McKinley predicts his fighter will be right on target."Ray came into camp around 270.  He was down around 235 at one point. I'd like to see him go in the ring at 232, but anywhere below 245 will be fine."

Asked if the conditioning will do for Austin what it did for Peter, McKinley said it's a given. "I've been focusing on conditioning and footwork.  When you're in good condition, your footwork improves immediately.  Ray's legs are stronger.  He'll move better than he ever has in the ring.

"The next step is balance.  The improvement in footwork leads to better balance and will yield quicker, more powerful punching.

Austin is saying what he has said since before the match was announced.

"Klitschko has a soft heart and a weak chin and I'm going to knock him out," Austin said.  "I'm not one of these inexperienced, undersized heavyweight contenders.  I'm not Calvin Brock.  I'm not a 213-pound Chris Byrd, either.  I'm a full-grown heavyweight.

"The last time Klitschko faced a man his weight was against Samuel Peter, who knocked him down three times while giving away five inches in height.  Same thing when Lamon Brewster knocked him out.

Austin added, "It was raining when we arrived in Germany.  That's an omen.  Some rain is going to fall on Klitschko real soon.  I've got a plan.  Now it's time to execute it."