Exclusive Interview with Joan Guzman: FROM THE HOOD, SPROUTED A WORLD BOXING CHAMPION
By Rod Mijares
Fri, 12 Sep 2008
The pride of the Dominican Republic, Joan Guzman, former 2002 WBO Super Bantamweight Champion until 2005 and former WBO Super Featherweight Champion will be fighting on September 13, 2008 against Nate Campbell?s for the latter's unified WBA, WBO and IBF world titles in Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi, Mississippi.
Joan Guzman who took up residence in Brooklyn, New York has a record of 28 wins and 17 of those were way of knockouts with no losses while Nate Campbell has 32 wins with 25 knockouts, 5 losses and 1 draw.
Guzman started boxing at the age of 8 when he was convinced by the elder boxers on their way to the gym near his house in the Dominican Republic to join them. His interest in boxing flourished by watching his father who was also a professional boxer himself. His father gave him advices and pointers on boxing techniques and styles but did not directly train him.?? Guzman has two sisters and two brothers. One of his brothers is a boxing trainer and his younger brother is an upcoming and promising boxer of championship caliber by the name of Luis Jose Guzman.
Joan Guzman won 310 out of 320 amateur fights. Three of those losses were his first fights when he was just starting boxing at the age of 8. The then President of Dominican Republic, H.E. Joaquin Balaguer, gave Guzman a house as a gift and as a government's recognition of his accomplishment of winning the Central American Boxing Title at a tender age of 15 and gave honor to their country as a result. That moment changed his life and as a noble gesture gave his first professional international belt he won (the WBO inter-continental super bantamweight) to President Balaguer, even though, he was no longer president at that time.
The writer was fortunate enough to sit down with Joan Guzman for an exclusive interview a week before his fight on September 13, 2008 against Nate Campbell. I invited Tony Martin, the right hand man of Mr. Tony Aldeguer of ALA gym in Las Vegas to provide more insights to the interview.
During the course of the interview I found Guzman accommodating with honest to goodness intentions. I sensed not only a boxing champion but also a good man with a sense of pride with his words and reputation.? Beyond his iron clad personality, knockout fists and bronze body lay a kind and soft heart for his countrymen in Dominican Republic. He has to win this fight and win he must for his country and people.
Eliot Diaz, Joan's Public Promotion staff, provided the translation for us.
Following are the excerpts from the interview:
Rod Mijares: Joan, thank you for giving us the honor of interviewing you a week before your scheduled bout on September 13, 2008.
Joan Guzman: Your welcome and I am also pleased that we have this interview.
RM: How's the Joan Guzman?s camp going for the Nate Campbell fight when it comes to your sparring sessions, body conditioning and overall training regimen?
JG: We came to Las Vegas eight weeks ago and I have been training at Top Rank's Round 1 Boxing Gym. So far, I have 90 rounds of sparring sessions with three boxers. I run 7 miles in the morning and 7 miles in the evening everyday. On top of that we go to 24 Hour Fitness Gym at night with my personal trainer, David Buer.
RM: I understand that Floyd Mayweather, Sr. is your trainer?
JG: Yes, he is a big part of Guzman team.
RM: Who is your manager and who is promoting your boxing career?
JG: My manager is Jose Nunez and Sycuan Ringside Promotiosn is promoting my boxing career.
RM: Is Sycuan Ringside Promotions an American entity or from the Latin American outfit?
JG: Sycuan Ringside Promotions is from San Diego, California run by Native Americans.
RM: How do you rate Nate Campbell as your opponent?
JG: He is a very good and skilled boxer. He will not be a champion if he is not.
RM: Do you have a lot of respect for him?
JG: Every boxer you meet in the ring, you have to respect. In this way you are prepared to fight them.
RM: He's beaten the previously unbeaten and younger Juan Diaz (33(17)-1. How do you think he will fight against you?
JG: It depends. It really matters on how he (Campbell) will come against me. You expect him to do this and do that but sometimes the routine change.? I have to be watchful for what he will do and I should be ready to react to it.
Joan Guzman (L) poses with boxing trainer and cutman Tony Martin in Las Vegas.
RM: Who is the promoter of this fight?? I understand it will be televised in Showtime.? Is it a pay-per-view or free for the boxing fans.
JG: Don King Promotions and Sycuan Ringside Promotions are promoting my fight with Nate Campbell. It will be televised in Showtime free for the boxing fans.
RM: That's a very good gesture from the promoters. A lot of boxing fans will be happy.
JG: Yes, they will be.
RM: You have 11 months preparation before your fight with Humberto Soto last Nov. 17, 2007. This time around after that fight you have almost 8.5 months Why there is a big gap between your last fight and this fight with Campbell?
JG: There is no good match nor good boxers that comes in between that promise a good fight.
RM: Your first professional fight was in Arizona and the second one was in Madison Garden, New York both of which you won. However, you went back to your country and took almost two years off? Why and what made you come back to boxing.
JG: I was not satisfied with the way I was being treated as a professional boxer. However, out of necessity when my first child was born, a girl, I have to make a living and support my family and boxing is the only job I know well. So, I came out of semi-retirement. I also have a son and adopted a second son.
RM: You are a knockout artist (17 out of 28). Are you aiming for a knockout against Campbell?
JG: No. You can not say that you will knockout your opponent. It will just come when it happens.
RM: Without giving up your over-all strategy, what will you do or will not do in order to win?
JG: I will counterpunch for his every punch thrown but most of all, I will fight a Joan Guzman fight.
RM: When you don't fight anymore, how do you want to be best remembered in the world and in Dominican Republic?
JG: A regular person from the Ghetto, from the hood became a world boxing champion.? Ever since, I hold the championship, I want to be remembered as the champion from the hood.
RM: If you win in this fight, are you looking for a unification fight with Pacquiao (WBC) or whoever wins against Casamayor and Marquez (Ring Magazine) or Diaz and Katsidis (IBO)?
JG: Maybe. It really depends on the promoters.
RM: What else do you want to accomplish with your career before it's all over with?
JG: I will continue working with my foundation, the Joan Guzman Fundacion.? There is a lot of poor people in my country, the Dominican Republic. I came from the Ghetto. I was born poor and I don?t forget where I came from.? I want to help my people. I usually hold fundraising events and invite my friends who are in the professional baseball league here in America to help me.
Also, I might be working as a boxing promoter, manager or trainer.
RM: Olympic has just finished. Your country since the start has sent about 16 Olympic boxers including you.? How many of these boxers are successful?
JG: Dominican Republic, like the Philippines, has a lot of boxing talents waiting to be discovered. Our country produced 13 world champions and two of those belongs to me. In this Olympic that just finished our boxer won a gold medal (Felix Diaz) and before that a bronze medal in 1984 Olympic (Pedro Nolasco) in Los Angeles, California.
RM: Who give you your nickname El Pequeno Tyson or The Little Tyson?
JG: Boxing fans who watched me fight gave that name to me. However, now I prefer to be called the 'Sycuan Warrior.'
RM: Joan, do you have any closing thoughts?
JG: I am inviting anybody who has the means to help share their blessings in my foundation. Together, we can help the poor and the needy from my country and I need your support in my incoming fight.
Also, give my regards to my good friend, Nonito (Donarie, Jr., the Filipino-American current IBO/IBF flyweight champion) and to my countrymen.
RM: We can not thank you enough for this honor, Mr. Guzman.
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