By James Slater
Upon calling up veteran trainer Al Bonnani, the former Don King Productions’ right hand man, so as to speak with Tavoris Cloud ahead of the unbeaten 30-year-old IBF 175-pound champ’s upcoming March fight with Bernard Hopkins, I was informed by the fast-talking veteran that he is no longer with Cloud. “December 1st, Cloud called me and let me go,” Al said, seemingly still somewhat shocked, if far from bitter, over what happened.
“I still can’t really see why; I got him to 24-0 and he was never hurt. But Cloud said he wanted a new approach and he has gone with James Prince (CEO of Rap-a-Lot Records/boxing manager). I think he was frustrated at the [Jean] Pascal fight [falling through] and when he called me and fired me he was in a bad mood and he didn’t want to train or do anything. But he asked me if I was okay. I told him I don’t wish him any ill at all, even if I’m not happy at the way he treated me.
“I think his letting me go came about because he feels he’s learnt all he can from me – which I don’t think is the case – and the fact that I’m too hard. I’m not good at the fuzzy, cuddling stuff some fighters need is how I guess I’d put it. I never kiss ass. (Al walked away from working with Nicaraguan bad boy Ricardo Mayorga some years back, appalled at how “El Matador” was allowed to drink alcohol and smoke – “he was working with guys who don’t know shot from shinolah!”) I’m tough with fighters – I’m the first up in the morning and the last one to bed at night. But if a fighter is willing to practice what I preach, that’s fine. Anyway, Cloud’s out at Big Bear with Abel Sanchez now, a good trainer.
Bonanni feels his former fighter will be way too much for 48-year-old Hopkins on March 9th:
“I think this fight is a big mistake for Hopkins. I can’t understand why Golden Boy have gone for this fight. Hopkins promised his mother he’d quit at age 40 yet he keeps going on and on. I think this is definitely Cloud’s fight. I think Cloud hurts him. Cloud could well become the first to stop him, but then again, Hopkins is so cute and tricky and he can use all his experience and get himself breaks when he’s hurt; he can even get the other guy disqualified! But I think as long as Sanchez gets him in top shape and doesn’t try to change him, Cloud has his way and wins big. And Cloud deserves this fight, along with the big money he should get from it.”