By Vincent C. “Power VCT” Thomas, Sr.
First and foremost, let me give honor to the man above and #PeaceAndBlessings to all.
Champ, I hope you don’t mind me calling you that; everyone doesn’t know the type of grinding you performed in your amateur and pro boxing careers and I believe it’s important to discuss your past history of bouts with Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. Vinny Pazienza and Greg Haugen for starters.
Jeff you’ve had some tough judges to face as an early pro, was a hot-head in a sense when younger and faced adversity in the long run; (1) so what makes you still respect the sport of today’s boxing?
“What makes me respect the sport of this day and age is that there are still teachers for willing students. Old timers always say, “It ain’t like my generation!”, but they could join in and pass on what they know. My generation stood on the shoulders of those who came before us. Without teachers, progression is very difficult.”
Since you fought Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. Vinny Pazienza and Greg Haugen as a pro, were those your best pro bouts (2) and what would you have done different (3) or were there other pro bouts which were tougher such as Terrance Alli (4)?
“I believe I raised my game in accordance with whom I was matched. Yes, I think those were my best fights. They got the best I could do at that time, rather; I would have given myself more credit for how far I had come in four years and enjoyed that rather than dwell on the losses. The bout with Alli was going well for my own plans but an accidental head butt cut me and the referee refused to acknowledge it. The ESPN cameras picked it up and replayed it between rounds, but I was forced to try and protect the cut from getting any worse and it altered my plans. Eventually, they realized he couldn’t knock me out, but decided the cut was too bad six rounds after the fact. Still not happy about that one lol.”
Now Champ we have thus far had great boxing for 2017, I’m going to put you on the spot to tell us who are the BEST fighter in their division regardless of belt. In your honest boxing opinion, who is the best boxer at:
(5) 175lbs: Andre “S.O.G.” Ward 32-0 (16 KO’s)
(6) 147lbs: Errol “The Truth” Spence 22-0 (19 KO’s) #MANDOWN
(7) 160lbs: Gennady “GGG” Golovkin 37-0 (33 KO’s)
(8) HW: Luis “King Kong” Ortiz 27-0 (23 KO’s)
(9) 154lbs: Erislandy Lara 24-2-2 (14 KO’s)
(10) 126lbs: Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux, he might fight at 122lbs, but he’s still the best feather; especially now that Vasyl “Hi Tech” Lomachenko 8-1 (6 KO’s) is 130 lbs champ
Tell us how it felt to fight on ESPN and the USA Network as a young fighter (11) and did he big lights distract you in any way at all (12)?
“As a young fighter on the USA network I realized that they would really like me to play the villain and that disappointed me. It’s a boxing match, not Dr. Phil. I’m gonna fight hard to win regardless of the fact that I don’t really “hate” my opponent. My parents wouldn’t appreciate their son going on national TV and acting like a jerk. I refused to play along. Whether it was a coincidence or not, USA never asked me to return. At the point when I fought on USA network I was a veteran of 25 bouts and the television cameras didn’t interfere with my concentration the way that my first ESPN fight had done. At that fight, it took a round or two to settle down and forget 11 million people were watching.”
You have received some boxing awards lately, tell us more about them (13) and tell the boxing fans about some of the other boxers and/or ceremonies you’ve been involved in recently (14)?
“I was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame in 2015. That was an incredible honor! In 2016, my memoir of my boxing days, “Becoming Taz” was presented with the Best Book of 2016 by the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame. I love going to the awards shows and seeing my favorite boxing heroes. I guess I’m a big fan first and foremost.”
In deep respect to you as a prizefighter, you gave it your all and even had that heart felt conversation with Teddy Atlas at the end of your career. You mentioned before how your owner at the job or former foreman tried to punk you out, while at work, and you reminded him that “he really doesn’t want this”, so I thought about that and visualized how so many side-line boxing fans always say this or that about their favorite fighter instead of having love for the sport. How do you feel about those who’s boxing opinions differ from reality (15)?
“Well first of all, I have to admit I’ve been guilty of this myself from time to time. I’ll watch a football game and I might get upset about a missed tackle or a dropped pass and “ANYBODY could have caught/tackled/succeeded there!” But what I learned in my boxing career is that when an athlete reaches the championship levels, he is simply in a different area code…. check that…. different galaxy… than the common man. Years and years of work has gone into becoming this machine. No! You could not have done this! And a person shows their ignorance of that essential fact. Nothing is as simple as it looks on television with world class athletes in their prime. It’s a different world!”
Oh, I almost forgot, I appreciate you signing that copy of the book entitled: (Becoming Taz) Writing from the Southpaw Stance; Introduction by Phil Rice. If you will be so kind, will you tell us how other boxing fans can also purchase and read your book in the near future?
Thanks, Vincent. It’s been fun. For those interested, my book is available on Amazon or directly from the publisher from the website http://canopicjar.com/canopic-publishing/. If you want a signed copy I have a few sitting around the house waiting to be signed. 18$ and I will sign and mail it to you.
Mr. Jeff Bumpus, thank you for your time and patience while I have also faced adversity personally as well discussed before. You are a true role gentleman and I strongly believe your fight continues in your public services!