Q&A: Cedric Boswell

Photo: Joe Cordova
Photo: Joe Cordova

By Jose E. Santiago

On September 26th Atlanta resident, Detroit native, Cedric “The Boz” Boswell (30-1, 24 KOs) will be featured on the undercard of the highly anticipated WBC heavyweight clash between Vitali Kitschko vs Chris Arreola at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Calif. Slated as Boswell’s opponent is the towering 6’7 Russian Alexander Ustinov (17-0, 14 KOs). As a professional heavyweight campaigning since 1994, Boswell is often overlooked as an opponent by current contenders and would-be-hopefuls. With only two exceptions to the aforementioned, Boswell is 1-1 when actually facing someone who posed a threat to his climb in the heavyweight ranks.

In 2003 Boswell took on Jameel “Big Time” McCline in a ten round bout. Boswell easily dominated 9 rounds with slick boxing and fancy footwork which often made McCline look awkward. With about a minute left in the 9th, Boswell simply ran out of gas and was caught with hard shots. McCline capitalized and jumped on his fatigued opponent and scored a TKO in the 10th. McCline went on to six title challenges and Boswell was left to recover from the loss and start from scratch.

After nearly a three year layoff following the McCline loss, Boswell came back with a re-established focus. With six victories on his comeback trail, Boswell was pitted against then undefeated and highly touted Israeli Roman Greenburg (27-1, 18 KOs) in August of ’08 for the IBF North American title. In what many thought would be a tough fight for both combatants, Boswell dismantled Greenburg and scored a devastating 2nd round TKO.

Boswell has since then won two more fights and is now set to face Ustinov in what he feels will finally be his opportunity to catapult into the heavyweight spotlight and capture his childhood dream, the heavyweight championship of the world. caught up with Boswell at Atlanta’s Absoloot Boxing Gym where he’s currently training for the fight.

How did this fight come about?

The fight came about because they think I’m old, they think I’m shot and they think that a young guy like that [Ustinov] should beat me. Their people are saying that I’m the biggest test he’s ever had, but the interesting thing is that he’s ranked higher than me. How can that be? But, come September 26th at the Staples Center I’m going to show who the top heavyweight is.

Many talk about the heavyweight division lacking something; whether if it’s an American champion or an exciting fighter. What lacking things can you bring to the division?

Style and charisma. The heavyweight division is like “rock’em-sock’em” with no ability. I can bring a lot of ability to the game…a lot of flash. A lot of fans like to see a boxer or puncher and I can bring both and that’s what the division is missing. It’s missing charisma and I can bring that back to the table too.

Being 6’7 Ustinov can move very well for a big fighter. What are you doing to prepare for a big fighter that moves well?

I focus my training camp on what it takes to be a champion. We’re preparing in camp to do what we must do to knockout Ustinov. Our focus is to be a champion, and train like one.

A topic that must be discussed is your age. You’re 39 years old, how do you feel going into a fight at this level, at your current age?

What heavyweight out there is faster than me? Not too many. I can punch with the best of them. My body is in great condition, I look great. I’m fast, I’m strong so with that said I don’t lack anything that any other heavyweight out there has.

It has been seen before where older fighters may feel great in camp and look great sparring but all of a sudden they subsequently get “old in the ring”. Do you fear that this may happen to you?

That thought never crosses my mind. I feel great, like I did when I was 30. There is nothing Ustinov has shown me that I haven’t already seen. Nothing!

You seem to be a little edgy when talking about this fight. What do you attribute that to?

It’s my time to shine. People have always said that I can’t do this and I can’t do that or I can’t beat this person or that person. I never get a chance to fight American fighters because certain promoters and managers keep me away from their fighters. So thank God for the Europeans who give me an opportunity to show what I can do. Perhaps they don’t really know who I am or what my abilities are but they’re giving me a chance to knock out their guys. And, because of that Americans will take note of who I really am. I’m just ready to go.

On July 25th you lost a close friend in Vernon Forrest when he was murdered. Does that play a factor in this fight? Does it motivate you to do well?

Absolutely. As a matter of fact I went to his Facebook page the other day and remembered how we used to always talk strategy before our fights. We would always encourage each other to treat every chance you get as if it’s your last. Now that he’s gone I find myself with the void of not having him with me to discuss those things. So yes it plays a roll in motivating me. But I know he’ll be shining down on me saying, ‘Ok this is what we have to do.’ God is my primary motivation along with all the naysayers that say I can’t do it, but primarily focusing on the words that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. This fight is more personal than any other. I don’t have anything against Ustinov, but I do with the boxing community, and this is my opportunity to shine and show them what I’m all about.

You’ve never gone 12 rounds before. What are you doing to prepare yourself should it go the distance?

Grinding baby. Working hard and sparring for twelve rounds. There is nothing he can show me in this fight to prove that he deserves to be a world champion. I’m going to be the new champ. We’re fighting for a version of the WBA belt and I’m going to have that belt on at the end of the day. I don’t care what I have to do to get, but I’m getting it. And to be totally honest, I think I’m getting it by knockout.

You’ve experienced some highs and lows in your career but what are your immediate goals right now?

Win a championship. Most of my lows have been due to the politics of boxing, but when I reflect on the loss to McCline I consider it a blessing in disguise. Had I won that fight who knows what would have happened. But one thing I do know is that I wouldn’t be here talking to you about this great opportunity to fight against Ustinov. Those lows allowed me to think about what I really wanted in life. My body is still fresh, I feel great. So I don’t necessarily look at them as lows but rather experiences that have helped me become who I am now as a person and a fighter.

You’ve chosen to train at the Absoloot Boxing Gym during hours when the gym is not too busy. Is that on purpose?

Yes. When I’m training here I’m with people that love me and have their best interests in me. Willie Perkins my trainer has always believed in me. Even from day one, and when he wasn’t training me he would always tell me that I should be a world champion. Having Yahya (McClain) with me is refreshing too. He brings the flair, the sassiness, the charisma and the boxing experience. This is my family and they help keep the rift raft away from me. We argue and cuss each other out, but when it’s time to work we come right back together and keep things moving.

You have a lot of fans here in Atlanta and back in Detroit that have backed you for a long time. How does that make you feel?

Man I appreciate it so much. It feels real good when I hear my supporters say that they feel I can do it and be a world champion. But I also appreciate those people that say I can’t do it. It keeps me grounded and motivated to obtain my goals and prove them wrong.”

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