One on One with Jeff Wald

By G. Leon


One on One with Jeff Wald

GL: Tell us about the big fight with Joe Calzaghe and Peter Manfredo Jr. "It's a big fight. Calzaghe has been the longest reigning champion in boxing. He hasn't lost in nine years, he's got speed, he's got power and he's one of the few real champions in boxing. It's going to be a great fight. Peter Manfredo is much younger than he is and he's got a lot of confidence over his last two fights. He's got a great trainer in Freddie Roach and I think Peter is the faster of the two and I definitely think winning this fight means more to him. The fight will take place in Cardiff, Wales on March 3 and it will be live on HBO championship boxing. It's Joe's hometown and we're going right into the Lion's Den. What's interesting is that both of these guys have Italian backgrounds and Peter Manfredo is a throwback to Arturo Gatti, he would rather die in the ring than lose a fight. I think he's going to do unbelievably well and I think it's going to be a very exciting fight."

GL: After the conclusion of season one some people were questioning how guys like Manfredo and Mora were being match. Obviously nobody is going to question the fight with Calzaghe, but my question is this, should we look at this move by the Contender group to match Manfredo with Calzaghe as a sign of things to come in terms of the types of fights we should be expecting to see Sergio Mora and Alfonso Gomez in?

JW: "I think you'll see them all. We've got another great fight we're working on with Steve Forbes possibly fighting for the WBA title against Souleymane M'Baye. That's being negotiated with Frank Warren and we had a great negotiation with Frank Warren for the Calzaghe fight. We're also talking with Lou DiBella and Al Haymon about putting Mora in there with Jermain Taylor in April. You're probably going to see Mora, along with Sugar Ray Leonard and myself in Little Rock to attend his fight with Kassim Ouma. You might see three contenders fighting for world titles in a period of three months, so is that a sign of things to come, absolutely. I'm talking to Al Haymon about maybe Grady Brewer fighting Vernon Forrest. We've got quite a few tricks up or sleeve and all our guys will be stepping it up."

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

JW: "When we first got involved they were saying that we were a bunch of reality TV guys trying to get into boxing, but the reality is we're kicking the shit out of everybody. If you're talking about matchmaking, we put Mora in there for two fights they said we shouldn't have.  He fought the 8 foot 11 Eric Regan and got off the deck in round two to kill the Shark. If you look fight to fight to fight, our guys continue to get better and better. With this fight with Calzaghe and Manfredo, is Calzaghe the favorite? Sure, but so was Hagler and so were a lot of other guys who never won. All of guys are gentleman and I want it to be known that Tarick Salmaci won that war of words with that moron Ishe Smith."

GL: Will there be a Cotender Season 3?

JW: "There will be a season 3, I don't really want to get into any details right now but ESPN has been a wonderful partner with us and we're looking forward to another great season of Contender action.


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