When former heavyweight champion Michael Moorer hung up the gloves to become a trainer, he decided the best way to establish himself was to start with a talented young prospect and develop him into a champion. “I’ve had such excellent trainers to learn from in my career,” he explains, “I wanted to display my skills by working with a green guy and developing him into a prospect.”
Enter J.D. “The Natural” Chapman, the 6’ 6”, 250-lb former Toughman competitor from Mansfield, Arkansas who admits he is very fortunate to have been plucked “straight out of the hay field,” and into the boxing ring to be schooled by a legendary ex-champion.
Chapman’s new manager, Florida businessman Scott Hirsch (who also handles former linear heavyweight champion and current top contender Shannon Briggs), says he was turned onto the 22-year-old powerhouse by Arkansas promoter Stacy Goodson. “I happened to run into Stacy and he mentioned that he had a young kid fighting on his club circuit who was bowling guys over as fast as he could set up the fights. He asked me if I would consider managing him. So I flew JD down to Florida and had Shannon work with him and evaluate him. When he was finished, I asked Shannon, ‘so what did you think?’"
According to Hirsch, Briggs replied, "he’s got talent," to which Hirsch said. "Minto or Maddalone-level talent?" And Briggs reportedly said "No. He’s got real talent." It was soon after that Hirsch approached Moorer about the job as his trainer.
Moorer says Chapman, currently a completely untested 16-0 (15 KOs), has proven himself an ideal student. “He listens and he’s willing to try anything. That’s what I really like about him. He does whatever I ask him to do because he knows I’m looking out for his best interests. He already has skills, but I want to enhance them so that once he gets established in the heavyweight division and starts fighting better opponents, he’ll be ready. He has an excellent work ethic,” Moorer adds. “He has a strength and conditioning coach that he lifts weights and runs with everyday. He’s doing things the right way.”
Chapman says he is equally happy to be learning from Moorer and considers him the perfect trainer for his personality and background. “He’ll make me the best I can be. Traditionally, you think of a trainer as someone in your face and yelling, but he’s different. I like that he stays calm, which keeps me calm, so we can work better that way. I’ve never had a coach take time like he does. If I don’t understand, he’ll take time and show me the right way to do something. With no amateur boxing background, I have to learn the fundamentals properly.”
Moorer also adds that rumors of his on again/off again comeback are baseless – he is a trainer to stay from here out. “I’m never coming back again. I’m done. I’ve already done it all,” he declares. “Training is coming naturally to me. I like it.”