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From Pillar to Post

By Ryan Songalia

From Pillar to Post: Trainer John Scully Reflects on Loss to Simms
08 Jan 2007

With the smoke still clearing from Jose Rivera's upset loss to Travis Simms Saturday night, Rivera's trainer John Scully reflected on his charges inability to solve the southpaw puzzle he had in front of him in the first defense of the WBA Junior Middleweight belt he earned last summer with his dominating performance over Alejandro Garcia.

"I think it is no secret that good boxers are the ones that have always given Jose trouble throughout his career, and especially southpaws. Last night was a very tough fight stylistically going in, we knew that." Scully continues, juxtaposing his charge's conqueror with the man he who he defeated to earn the belt. "Garcia was a more dangerous guy but he gave up his range and allowed Jose to get into the fight. Travis boxed smartly and never let Jose get into any kind of groove."

Travis Simms of Norwalk, Connecticut, regained the WBA title that had been stripped of him when he refused a rematch with the man he had blown away with a single shot in 2003, Alex Garcia. Simms elevated his undefeated record to 25-0 (19 KO), while Jose Rivera fell to 38-5-1 (24 KO).

When asked whether or not he was disappointed in Rivera's inability to pull out the W, Scully responded with candor and honesty. "Well, you have to realize that Jose is in his mid 30's and has been fighting the way he has for his entire boxing life, more than 15 years now. I only started training him less than two years ago." Scully continues, "I would of course want to see him do some things differently but I can't be mad at all because he's been set in his ways for a long time now. With his style and his strengths and weaknesses there are certain other styles that he can really excel against and tricky southpaws aren't it."

Peering through the scope that only a trainer can view through, Scully was able to provide this writer with details into how Rivera dealt with the disappointment of losing a title he worked hard to attain. "Jose is a realistic, he knows boxing and he knows himself very well. I think he expected some serious stylistic trouble in the fight and expected to have to come on late to win. We knew going in we could never beat the guy in a 4 round fight so 12 rounds was supposed to be in our favor. Jose was flat and Simms boxed very well and picked his shots very well, too. I tried to snap Jose out of it and get him into a groove but the styles just didnt mesh well at all and i think Jose accepts that."

After being dropped in the second round and going down once again in the fateful ninth round, Scully the trainer was faced with a difficult situation that he himself could understand as a veteran of 49 pro fights.

"It was a tough spot for me because [Rivera]'s like me in that he never wants to get stopped in a fight and he makes sure it is known before he fights that the corner shouldn't overreact. I am not one to stop fights because I know fighters usually have more in their reserves than even they mifght realize at the time. I had no argument with the stoppage, though, because Jose was getting hit clean and Travis was definitely picking up momentum in there at that point."

At 33 years of age and 44 typically violent bouts, Scully ceded that perhaps we have seen the best of the Worcester Warrior, Jose Antonio Rivera. "Well, my thing is this," started Scully in reference to Rivera, "you made it to world championship staus, something only a small percentage of fighters ever do. It's been along and tough career.

"Jose has been in many, many tough fights and that wears on a man after a while. Even the toughest men in history. Style wise, in terms of actually winning, at this point in his career and life, Jose would obviously be best suited to face guys that come to rumble and fight with him and not go against the slicker fighters. If he wanted to keep fighting, it would be a thing where he should go after the fights that could make him money but also the ones that would see him in with styles that are more suited to him. Everybody has a kryptonite and Jose's is the slick, awkward, cagey guys.

Rivera lost the WBA version of the Welterweight title in 2005 in the first defense of the belt in 2005 against slick southpaw Luis Collazo, who is co-trained by the same man who handles Simms, Nirmal Lorrick .

When asked about what Jose will be doing in the future, Scully stressed the need to distance himself from the happenings of the ring and to focus on the more important things in life. "I would like to seem him rest and let his cut heal and spend quality time with his family and make a decision down the road with a clear mind."

The veteran Scully had a few words for Simms with regards to the circus act that flooded the ring after the fight was halted at 2:00 of the ninth. Referring to the act as "very, very classless", Scully didn't mince words when he came forward with his advice, stating "Travis should seriously tell those ignorant fools to get out of his life."

Scully added "those women he had in the ring with him, the loud mouth people cursing on Showtime, that is not how you get the big dollars. Nobody wants to see that. You would never ever see that with a Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, et cetra. The average American boxing fan is not feeling that."

Scully explained that it was not so much Simms' behavior as it was his entourage that made the matter an item of exigency and scrutiny. "Actually though," Scully began, "he came across very well in his interview. He wasn't the one, it was his group. Classless females that don't know how to act, they make him look very very bad. If I trained him that would never happen."

When asked what he thought of Simms as a fighter and his future prospects in the ring, Scully relayed a reply that showed both reverance and a sense of reality. "I dont think he can beat [Floyd Mayweather Jr.] or Oscar [De La Hoya], but he's very solid.

The fight was initially slated for several other dates, but several tangibles swayed which resulted in the bout ultimately being postponed several times. Scully doesn't think that played a role in what occurred in Florida. "Well, it was delayed for both guys so whatever problems it brought for us it brought them for Travis, too."

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