On March 17, the legendary trainer, Brother Naazim Richardson, and heavyweight contender Travis Kauffman (31-1, 23KOs), will take on Amir Mansour (22-2, 16KOs) at the Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania. With a week to go before these two heavyweights meet in the ring on Bounce TV, Brother Naazim sat down and spoke about the upcoming fight, the heavyweight division landscape, his thoughts on Thurman-Garcia, and why he’s not a fan of social media.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MANSOUR AND WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE HIM TRYING TO DO IN THIS FIGHT?
Mansour is one of the most dangerous older guys that I can think of in years. Old guys got skills but they usually ain’t that dangerous. Mansour is dangerous, and he’s desperate. He thought he was invincible . . . until Steve Cunningham proved different. With his age, he can’t afford another loss. The mentality he has coming up the hard way, he feels like he has to die in there before he lets another guy beat him. So, Kauffman has a tough task in front of him.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU GUYS ARE DOING DIFFERENTLY IN ORDER TO PREPARE FOR MANSOUR’S STYLE?
We have to prepare Kauffman to be the best Kauffman he can be. Mansour is the kind of fighter where you can’t so much worry about adjusting to him and be at your best. Okay, you know he’s dangerous. That means he hits hard. If you know a guy has a .357 . . . you know you can’t just walk out there, you have to wear a vest. Mansour can be explosive at any time. He has very good hand speed too, that’s one thing you don’t want to underestimate. His hand speed is very good. We have to prepare for that speed and that dynamic of power. Travis can do a few more things but I think Mansour has to be prepared for Travis.
THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION SEEMS WIDE OPEN RIGHT NOW, WHAT DO YOU THINK KAUFFMAN HAS TO DO IN ORDER TO GET HIS OPPORTUNITY?
It always helps to win impressively. But, he has to win. If he wins impressively, he’s that much closer. His tenaciousness showed he belonged when he was in there with Arreola. He proved to the world he belonged there and he woke people up. Mansour might have slept on Travis before the Arreola fight but nobody is gonna sleep on him anymore. For him to win impressively against Mansour, leaving no question to who wins this fight, puts him one step closer to what he has to do. He’s a talented young athlete who can give anybody a run for their money.
Thurman fought like he spoke in those interviews. Danny didn’t fight like Angel was talking in those interviews.
A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THE WELTERWEIGHT DIVISION IS THE HOTTEST DIVISION RIGHT NOW, BUT THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION HAS A LOT OF BLOSSOMING YOUNG TALENT. HOW DO YOU THINK THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION STACKS UP RIGHT NOW TO OTHER DIVISIONS?
The reason why the heavyweight division is not going to compare to the welterweight division in that aspect, the heavyweight division history is richer and deeper and the heavyweights have more of a responsibility because they have more history than any other division. That’s why the heavyweights are going to be critiqued in a rougher capacity than other divisions. I mean, you have some good young champions . . . Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. We shouldn’t just write-off the Klitschko kid like it’s totally over because he’s a veteran. Some of these veterans are putting themselves in position to be dangerous to the game, like Mansour.
DO YOU THINK THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION IS HEALTHY RIGHT NOW AND IN A GOOD PLACE TALENT-WISE?
I think it’s healthy. The heavyweight division is healthy now and can prove to make some key matchups in the future. We just gotta keep promoting these young guys and let them get their work in. Like this fight here with Mansour and Kauffman. This is the work these young guys have to do and the heavyweight division will take care of itself. We got a bunch of young monsters waiting in the shadows to do their thing. We got a young kid out of Philadelphia, Darmani Rock. There’s some young problems out there.
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE THURMAN-GARCIA FIGHT?
I’m not a real promoter of the social media. I’m not really big into it the way the rest of the world is. Some of these fights are getting caught up into social media things and social media is having impacts on these fights. When you hear about all the things Angel Garcia said coming out of the camp of Danny Garcia, and you hear all the things that Thurman said, when you saw the fight, Thurman fought like he spoke in those interviews. Danny didn’t fight like Angel was talking in those interviews.
DO YOU THINK DANNY COULD HAVE DONE MORE?
You can always do more. You can mention every guy out there, in the first round with the first punch you can always do more. But, I thought it was a close fight because of Thurman. Thurman made it a close fight. It’s hard to say that Danny did anything to make Thurman stop boxing. Thurman chose to . . . start boxing and moving around. It was reminiscent of the Lamont Peterson fight also.
Mansour is dangerous because he’s desperate.
WHO DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST DANGEROUS HEAVYWEIGHT RIGHT NOW?
The most dangerous heavyweight right now is King Kong. That kid from Cuba, he’s dangerous. Him and maybe this kid Anthony Joshua. They’re right up there together. That’s the most dangerous kid who’s not a champion. Deontay Wilder has proven that he’s dangerous. Deontay Wilder is always going to be one of the top dangerous heavyweights because he’s proven to ya’ll, ya’ll can be doing good, when the kid Washington was rocking him. Ya’ll can been hooting and hollering about some guys double jab pushing him back. None of it matters because Deontay Wilder can change your outlook on life with one shot in that ring. Deontay will have cats thinking about taking a job at Wawa. That’s danger. Dangerous means something destructive can happen at any time. But, that kid King Kong, the reason why I say he’s probably the most dangerous . . . you know why? Look at all the interviews. You done heard about Gerald Washington, this person, that person, but you don’t even hear anyone mentioning him. You don’t hear his name in the mix nowhere. You would’ve thought he stopped boxing.
THAT’S TRUE. IT DOESN’T SEEM LIKE ANYONE IS EAGER TO GET IN THE RING WITH HIM.
Yeah, they don’t even talk about him; they act like he ain’t even there. Anytime you got the media scared to mention his name, you know this dude is promoting fear. But, Mansour is dangerous because he’s desperate. You know how they say when you go to rescue somebody that’s drowning that it’s very dangerous because they’ll pull you down too? That’s where Mansour’s mentality is, that’s where he’s at now.
YEAH, I EXPECT HIM TO TRY TO MAKE THE FIGHT UGLY.
Yeah, he’ll make the fight ugly. He’ll make the fight any way it has to be. He just can’t afford to lose to another young guy. As a matter of fact, he really has to win impressively. But he damn sure can’t lose by any means necessary.
YOU’VE BEEN VERY GENEROUS WITH YOUR TIME, THANK YOU, BROTHER NAAZIM. I APPRECIATE HAVING THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK WITH YOU AND I WISH YOU NOTHING BUT THE BEST.
Thank you. I appreciate the attention you guys are giving to the fight. My athletes work hard . . . and after you work hard you want people to take a look at what you’re doing.