One on One with The Iceman John Scully Pt. 1

By. Ray O. Campbell Jr.


One on One with The Iceman John Scully Pt. 1

“I don’t think there is a 122lb fighter in the world faster than Mike Mike (Oliver)”

Over the weekend, caught up with former Light Heavyweight world title challenger turn trainer John “The Iceman” Scully to catch up on the latest going on. In this part one, of a two-part interview. Scully gives us the latest going down with his fighters Mike Oliver 17-0(7), who will be defending his regional title against another undefeated fight in New York’s Gary “Kid” Stark 18-0(8) on ShoBox February 16th, the future of former WBA champion Jose Antonio Rivera and the comeback of Israel Cardona. All that plus his take on his former fighter, Chad Dawson’s chances of defeating undefeated WBC Light Heavyweight champion Tomasz Adamek February 3rd on Showtime.

RC: John, what’s the latest going on with you?
JS: Basically now that we have this fight set with Mike Mike (Oliver), that’s my big priority other than the Golden Gloves finals on Friday.

RC: Is the fight between your guy Mike Oliver and Gary Stark Jr. signed sealed and delivered for February 16th on ShoBox Philadelphia?
JS: Yeah, I talked to his promoter and he said everything is a go. I believe it is at a college (St. Josephs). It’s kind of exciting to have a fight like this in a city like that.

RC: How has preparation been for this fight, and how long has he been training for?
JS: Really he has been training non-stop for over a year. He has just been training and fighting constantly. Here is a guy like literally boxing is his life. He lived in the projects where the gym was literally in the same parking lot. He has been in the gym since he was two years old, and he is 27 now. You are talking quarter century this guy has been in the gym non-stop. That has just been his life. So he is always in the gym, even when he isn’t training or fighting, he is just there.

RC: With you being a former fighter and now a trainer, knowing the types of affect it can have on a fighter if he is over trained. How do you prevent it from happening in a case with a guy like Oliver, who like any other fighter can leave all what they have in the gym?
JS: What he will do is, he won’t train all out, all of the time. He will come in and hit the bag a little bit, and I do some classes as a health facility two days a week, and he will come in and take the class. It is like an aerobic boxing type of class. He will do things like that, but he wont run as much, he wont spar as much and things like that. So he doesn’t really do like the strenuous strength training and things like that. He doesn’t do that until he gets ready for the actual fight. So he just keeps in the gym just to maintain himself.

RC: Give us your take on the match up between Mike Oliver and Gary Stark Jr.?
JS: I think honestly Mike Mike is a special fighter, and at that weight I think Mike Mike matches up well with anybody. I have known Gary since he was an amateur, he is talented and he has fast hands. I think his strength is probably his fast hands and that works well against most people, but I don’t think there is a 122lb fighter in the world faster than Mike Mike. And that is not just me saying that, every time he fights, people that haven’t seen him before, are like “This is unbelievable, this guys hand speed is out of this world” he has been compared to Roy Jones, Shane Mosley and people like that. So I think Gary’s biggest attribute is kind of nullified, because Mike Mike is faster, stronger and the kind of a thing where you say the person is born to do something. Mike Mike is a born fighter. That is just what he knows that is just what he does.

My only concern to be honest with you about the fight, like when I heard about the fight, my biggest thing is it is on a Lou DiBella show, I am just hoping that we get a fair shake. If it was a fight where neither of us had any ties with a promoter or anything like that, I wouldn’t have a care in the world about it.

RC: So you don’t feel as if it ….
JS: (Cutting in) I mean it is just natural in the boxing game the fact is…

RC: (Cutting in) So you don’t feel being that the fight is taking place on neutral territory, although Philadelphia is closer to New York where Gary Stark is from, you don’t feel as …
JS: (Cutting) it is like this, if you fight on a Don King show, wherever it is in the world, it is a Don King show. We are fighting a DiBella fighter on his show; it is at a place that he chose, dealing with people that he chose to deal with. So wherever it is, it is his show. So there is a built in subconscious that he has. So that is my only, only issue whatsoever. I think as a man-to-man situation, as good as I think Gary Stark is, I just think that Mike Mike is better in every category, every aspect, every everything. I wasn’t always one to say that. Mike Mike when he was younger and everything, he wasn’t always the hardest trainer and the most diligent guy. He did a lot of things on natural ability and natural desire. I worked with him at time…. I mean this is a kid who when he had his other coach as amateur I remember one time we were going to a national tournament in Florida at Disney world. I was bringing three guys with me so I asked his coach who was in gym with us I said “Noel, you are coming with Mike Mike next week right?” he said “ Nah I am not bringing Mike Mike he hasn’t trained, he hasn’t trained a couple of days for this tournament so I am not going to go and waste my time”

So I said well if Mike Mike wants to go, I will bring him. He ended up going down there with us and he won four fights, and he beat two of the top three ranked fighters in the country easily. That’s including Aaron Garcia who was a national golden gloves champion and won all type of huge titles and Mike Mike destroyed these guys and lost in the finals to win a silver medal to Gerald Tucker, who had just won the Pan-American games. So this is a guy, who without even training went there and did that. He use to do that all of the time.  He wouldn’t even do sit-ups, from 1988 up until last year I don’t think I have ever seen Mike Oliver do a sit up. This is a guy who would just fight and he would just fight anybody. I mean literally if I said Mike Mike you are a 122lbs I have a kid that weighs 140-145lbs, do you want to fight him? He wouldn’t even hesitate, he would say “Okay, no problem”. He is just that type of kid, so as long as he is in condition, he is the kind of guy you just let him go and do his thing. I just think he is a special, special kind of guy. So I am excited about him being on Showtime and having the world see him. I have always said if this guy got a big break I think he could be a really popular fighter because he fights. He likes to throw his hands, he likes to get in there and do it.

I will give you another example; everybody knows that if you take a kid as an amateur or even as a young pro especially and you say I got you a fight next week. Every kid is going to be like “Okay well who am I fighting? What is his record? Who has he beaten? Where is he from? Howe tall is he? Is he a southpaw?” You know that kind of thing, Mike Mike never, ever ever ever ask anything about the guys he fights, NEVER! When he fought Adam Carrera, who was a world amateur champion, who was one of the top three amateurs in the country n his weight class, he was a NABF champion he was 18-1, you know a very reputable opponent. Mike Mike didn’t ask one question about him, he didn’t ask how tall he was, he didn’t ask where he was from, he didn’t ask what his record was, he didn’t ask anything. He heard the guy was a real good fighter and he said, “Ooh ok, that’s fine”. I mean to be completely honest with you; he has no idea who Gary Stark is, that’s the honest truth. He doesn’t even know who Gary is.

RC: So even in the case of him going into a pretty important fight like this, do you at least try to make have him watch tapes of…
JS: (Cutting in) Mike Mike doesn’t care, I could sit down with him but he would be bored. He would just be watching the tape and be like Ooh ok, that’s fine. I can show him a tape of Gary killing somebody, and he would be like Ooh ok, that’s fine. It is just a funny thing; he is just weird like that.

RC: (Jokingly) Well it doesn’t sound like he would make for a good interview
JS:  I tell you what, and this is the honest truth and anybody that knows him will tell you this. If you said to Mike Mike, Mike Mike I have a million dollars here, I will give you a million dollars if you can tell me who the WBC champion in your weight class is. I guarantee you he couldn’t tell you right now. I guarantee you. I guarantee you he couldn’t tell you any of the champions. He wouldn’t have a clue.

I actually read something recently where somebody in Gary Stark’s camp said that Mike Mike ducked a fight with him and didn’t want to fight him, and I am telling you, Mike Mike has no idea who Gary Stark is. He wouldn’t know Gary Stark if Gary Stark walked up to him. To this day I don’t even think he knows his name. He called me the other day, and said “Cappiello (Mike Oliver’s promoter) said that kid from New York still wants to fight me” so that’s all he knows, the kid from New York. He doesn’t know who he is, but it is funny when people say Mike Mike ducked somebody because he just wouldn’t do that, he just wouldn’t duck a fight. He would never do that, He just wouldn’t.

I would have to say he has had 300 amateur fights in his life, and you know he has fought the best. He has fought the best, he has fought Clarence Vinson, and I mean dozens and dozens of guys. He has been in there with all of the top ranked fighters, Rasheem Jefferson from Philadelphia, Tiger Allen who is from Philadelphia who is a very good fighter. He has seen every style; I mean he spars with Middleweights. Me and him have done ten rounds together and I am a light heavyweight. So you can ask him about “Kid” Gary Starks, but to honest with you, Mike Mike wont be able to tell you very much about him. I have know Gary since he was an amateur I have nothing but respect for him, he is really… he is actually a really funny kid and I have nothing but respect for him.

RC: I agree with you, he has to be one of the funniest people I have ever met.
JS: You see there you go, so you know what I am talking about. I am very familiar with their whole crew. I actually use to spar with Jaidon (Codrington) quite a bit, because you know he is from Connecticut originally, and Curtis I have known Curtis (Stevens) since he was 13, when he was literally thirteen years old stopping people. So it is kind of an odd fight. Kid is a god Kid, they’re no hard feeling, that’s just the way the ball goes, we have to fight.

RC: You currently train former WBA Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight champion Jose Rivera who just lost his last fight via against Travis Simms, why don’t you give us your take on his performance a couple of weeks ago, and looking back what do you feel he could have done to be more successful in this fight?
JS: Well to be honest with you, Simms, he fought a very good fight. Especially for being off for so long, I mean nobody could have expected him to fight that well. Some people have a style; I mean everybody has a style that is kryptonite. I mean we are talking Ali, Roy Jones, everybody knows that everybody else has a style that is tough for him to deal with. A southpaw on top of a guy that has slickness to him, and has range to him, you know is always going to be difficult for Jose. Jose likes to fight, he loves when the guys come forward and bang with him and that type of thing. So the southpaw style was really difficult to deal with. It is hard to really say, you can work on things to eliminate that but actually, what is kind of funny about the thing was we worked constantly in the gym on cutting the ring off so that Travis would be forced to go to his own left. Which usually is extremely difficult for a southpaw. A southpaw wants to go to his right, but in this case I realized around the third round, that Travis was actually very good at moving to his left. Which most southpaws aren’t… So you think you would tell Jose, move to your right and cut him off from going to his left. But with that he would be walking full on into Travis’s left hand with full power and obviously we didn’t want to do that. So stylistically the fight was just a nightmare. It is always going to be difficult. It could obviously be a better fight, I just think that he got out of his game plan early on and just could never really get on track. I would imagine, I haven’t talked to him about but I would imagine that Travis fought better than we could have expected he would.

RC: If I am not mistaken I believe Rivera mentioned something about possibly retiring; can you give us the status on that?
JS: To tell you the truth, I really haven’t gotten into it with him yet. I think most fighters after a defeat, especially after loosing their world title, they have that feeling at his age (33) and everything, but it kind of just shows you the craziness of boxing, like one minute he was coming off the biggest win of his career. A very impressive fight that got him a lot of recognition and respect, and in your very next fight you lose your title to a guy you were favorite against. Boxing is just an unpredictable game; I can’t really predict what he will do. I haven’t talked to him about that to see where his emotions are and things like that. So we will be getting together pretty soon I would imagine.

RC: Are there any other fights you are working with that we might be unaware of?
JS: If you remember Israel “Pito” Cardona, he was the lightweight NABF champion (and USBA) a few years ago. He fought Paul Spadafora for the vacant title (IBF) and that was actually the fight Spadafora won the title in, and kind of put himself on the map with. He had a few fights after that, but he took time off. Now he is back, and now he has two wins in a row, two knockout wins and we are looking to get him started on a regular basis and try to make a move at 147lbs. He is still looking good, I mean him and Jose (Rivera) out on some, when Jose was fighting Garcia, him and Pito had some unbelievable wars in the gym. Like what’s the price of admission, if you had to pay for it, it would have been worth it. It was just as good as the fight with Garcia. So Pito still to me has a lot left. So it is just a matter now about getting the opportunity, which we are hoping to do pretty soon. I would like to see him work his way back to some good fights; I really think he can be the exciting TV fighter that he was about five years ago.

Right now, those are the three names that I am working with. Plus I have an amateur crew that I am working with. I have a kid name Sammy Vega who is a kid who works for a Law firm. As an amateur especially in the late 90’s he beat guys that are literally now 28-0 as a pro, 30-0 as a pro. He is actually one of the people beat Adam Carrera who Mike Mike beat for the USBA title; he beat him as an amateur. He was a guy that everybody wanted to turn pro, but I kind of stared him in another direction, now he is back and he is actually in the golden glove finals on Friday. So I am working with him, he is one of Mike Mike’s sparring partners; he is a big part of my team.

RC: Give us your thoughts on Chad Dawson, a fighter that you use to work with. Give us your thoughts on his upcoming bout against Tomasz Adamek for the WBC Light Heavyweight title set to take place on Showtime on February 3rd?
JS: Chad is a special fighter; he has that amazing height for his weight. He has a good jab, which I like to think I had a big part in giving him. When I first got him, he had a good jab but he rarely used it. I had long discussions with him on the jab, and why you use the jab and how you should use it., and how you should be able to win a whole fight with it. I actually showed him in the gym how to do that. The biggest fight we had together was Carl Daniels when he dominated Carl Daniels with the jab. Now, at Light Heavyweight he is more comfortable with his weight, assuming he can take a punch, you know because I have never really seen him get tagged, and that is always a question with any fighter, but if Chad can take a punch, if his conditioning and everything is there and that one intangible is good, it is going to be hard for somebody to beat this guy. He is that good, he his very talented. He is very good with his punching power and he puts punches together and he has awesome angles. He has a jab, and actually I had him developing his body punching which he showed very well against Eric Harding. I haven’t seen Adamek, but if somebody beats Chad, it is going to take a very good fighter that beats him


Stay Tuned for part two, of this One on One with the “Ice Man” John Scully, in which he talks in length about his upcoming book which he says will be the realist boxing book ever written.



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