Phillips takes his hat off to Ouma

By Ray O. Campbell Jr.


Phillips takes his hat off to Ouma

RC: Verno give us your thoughts on your fight this past Saturday night on Showtime in which you lost a very competitive unanimous decision to Kassim Ouma 20-1-1(13)?

VP: Everything was going good, I told you that I was going come out and do my best. This time around I had more time to train so I can’t complain about that. I came out and grabbed the first couple of rounds then he was able to pick it up and it was back and forth. Then in the 11th round he caught me with a good body shot that slowed me down a little bit and that is what started it all. Then he picked it up and was able to pull it off. If I would have just won the 11th or 12th round I would have won the fight or it might have been a draw. (The final judges’ score were 114-113 twice and 117-110)

RC: Do you feel as if you put your best foot forward in the fight?

VP: I was ready, I was in shape. But that wasn’t me, I am better than that. I am not saying that I had bad training or anything like that, he was just the better man and I had an off night. I felt that I was ready the last time I was suppose to fight him. Don’t get me wrong, I was ready, but I felt that I was more prepared the last time out before he got injured.  

RC: Well now that it is all over with people might look at it as if you are just making exc...

VP: Nah it aint no excuses, in interviews I said it. I was ready, I had nine weeks. I said that whoever wins I was going to bow, and he won and I take my hat off to him, and I don’t have any excuses.

RC: Without seeing the fight tape yet, is there anything you felt you could have done differently to pull off the win?

VP: Well like I said I think in the 11th and 12th, that is where I was wearing down. If I would have fought more in those two rounds I would have won the fight. It is just like I gave it up, people told me they had me winning before that. Even Tim Witherspoon was like “Phew….That shit was close”

RC: So you are ok with the way everything went in the fight and have no problem accepting the decision?

VP: I mean what can I do? I am just a mad at myself because I felt I could have done better. I had a good camp and it was a good fight. He came to do his thing, he was nervous though; I know he was a little shaky himself. He was laughing and running around, but was doing all of that to burn nervous energy. I didn’t really do the things that I feel I should have done in the fight. He can go places as long as he doesn’t get trapped, stay on track, and don’t get his head blown up.

RC: What things do you feel you should have done?

VP: I didn’t feel like I moved side to side like I was supposed to. Like I said in the begging rounds, I felt like I did alright but when I got hurt to the body and I got a lump on my eye that I thought was from a head butt but somebody told me it was from an uppercut , and that was swelling up. So when he hit me on the side of my eye that shit was hurting.  

The game plan that I wanted to do it didn’t work, the first fight that we had I was hitting him with uppercuts and I was catching him, and I was getting in some good sneaky shots, but this fight I couldn’t bring it to him, his defense got better on me for this fight and now he is the new IBF champ.

RC: Now that you gave such a good account of yourself against a young and extremely tough contender in Kassim Ouma, and now that you no longer have the title no one really has a reason to fight you and probably won’t because you are just too great a risk. Is that a concern for you?

VP: Well I was thinking maybe (Daniel) Santos people might call me; Kofi (Jantuah) people might call me to see how I do against those guys because they might feel that my skills are going down. I am imagining that they are going to sleep on me and fight me to see where they are at.

RC: Many feel that you gave Ouma a much tougher time than expected, with that said do you feel that might discourage some fighters from wanting to face you?

VP: I am just going to wait for whomever to call me; I will be waiting to hear from Ron Katz my matchmaker. I was with Sugar Ray Leonard but after this fight I am a free agent, so I will talk to them and see what’s good and what’s next for me. Whatever comes I am going to take, if they say they got a fight for me with Kofi (Jantuah), I gotta jump on it, I just got to be better than I was against Kassim because if not then people are going to say I am done.

RC: Is a third match with Ouma something you will try to push for, if you are successful in getting a few victories under your belt?

VP: I am sure he is going to want to enjoy his title and make a few defenses, and if they give me the opportunity yeah I will do it again. If the promoters want to do it I will do it.

RC: So where do you go from here, if you had your way what would you like to fight next?

VP: Whoever they put in front of me, I will take whatever; if they give me a beast they give me a beast. I mean one fight isn’t going to bring me down. Ouma knows, he even said it after the fight that I am the toughest that he has ever fought. His people know, Tim Witherspoon said I was an amateur but after the fight he was saying it was close. That is his fighter so he is going to boost him; he came in the middle of the ring like he was fighting me. It was like I was fighting his whole camp. But everything was cool, I am a veteran I am not going to get tight. I am disappointed in me, I am disappointed that I lost to him because I looked at it as him standing in the way of millions and if I get him out of the way I would be in the books. 

RC: You will be 35 next month, how much longer do you see yourself boxing?

VP: Well you know me and Wifey talked and we agreed that I will be fighting for another year or so.

RC: Will you be gunning for another title shot within that year?

VP: I hope so, because I am not trying to be in the game just to make chump change. So I will try to get another title shot if they give me the opportunity.

RC: Is there anything else you’d like to say?

VP: Yeah just because of this one loss, don’t think that I am down. I lost to one of the best. I don’t have any excuse, my age might be there but I am not on my way out. I am still in the top ten, so be on the lookout for more Verno.


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