Q&A: Ronnie Shields

By Przemek Garczarczyk

Jeff Julian

“I cannot wait for my first meeting with Adamek,” says top trainer Ronnie Shields. “The moment he arrives in Houston with his manager, we are going to have a Texas-style dinner and talk. I will have seven weeks to prepare him for Chris Arreola and to do everything to make this fight as easy as possible. We will put Tomek on a small diet, make him go to 210 and overwhelm Chris with speed,” said 52-year-old, who has worked with greats like Vernon Forrest, Pernell Whitaker, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, just when the “Real Deal” conquered cruiserweight and then heavyweight division. Sounds like déjà vu, doesn’t it?

About fifteen years ago, in Houston, you and Roger Bloodworth prepared another Polish heavyweight, Andrew Golota for his now legendary fights with Riddick Bowe.

Same city, different gym. If somebody would tell me then that 15 years later I will have another heavyweight from Poland to prepare for championship caliber bouts, I would never believe it. I know that this time we will not have a heart attack, like it was when we were watching Andrew losing those Bowe fights. Just couple of days ago I spoke with Zyggi Rozalski, Adamek’s manager and he told me about health problems of Tomek’s Polish trainer, Andrew Gmitruk. I knew Roger (Bloodworth) worked for three weeks with Adamek before the Estrada fight, we talked and decision was made. It was easy, when you are talking of this caliber of the talent.

What do you know about Adamek?

Enough. I watched his fights when he was a light heavyweight and cruiserweight and now I’m waiting for tapes from Main Events to see his bouts in heavyweight division. I don’t have to watch them to know what we will do: speed, speed and another gear of speed. I know he weights now around 220 now, but I would like to get him down to 210, but most important is to make him be comfortable with his weight. We don’t want to win against Arreola with one punch – we want to win every round. Lots of quick jabs, double jabs, changing positions, three punch combinations – we will not give Arreola a chance to set his onslaught, we will make him guess, be confused. This will be the plan for April 24, no secrets here. I was happy when I heard that during press conference in Ontario, Arreola people were shocked when they discovered that Adamek is as big as Chris. It will make my job easier, their job harder.

Your answer to the critics saying that Arreola is too tough for a boxer who is fighting just a third fight in heavyweight division?

Disagree for many reasons; First of all we are talking about the guy who was two time champion in two weight classes, not just some guy from nowhere. And looking for advantages versus Chris, I see more on our side. We will know everything about him, maybe with the exception of his weight, but I’m sure even Chris cannot tell us if on April 24 he will be 240 or 270 pounds. Adamek is not ready – yet – for Klitschko brothers, needs maybe two more fights. After we beat Arreola, we can have David Haye for the next fight, no problem. If you ask me, we can have him tomorrow and I still believe Adamek would be a favorite.

You will work with Adamek in Houston, Roger Bloodworth, his head trainer will stay until end of March in New Zealand preparing another heavyweight – David Tua. Time differences, different work schedules – how will you resolve this?

I’ve known Roger many years, maybe since 1991, so we are talking almost twenty years here. We will have a long talk very soon, but most important is that we have a complete confidence in each other. He knows that for the next seven weeks I will mold Tomek into fighting machine, our game plan will be ready. I read in many interviews that Adamek is a believer of winning fights first in his head, then with his fists. Exactly my way of thinking, my kind of fighter. How can anything go wrong?

You will start working with Adamek March 1st. What are his biggest weaknesses?

Just one – experience as a heavyweight. When I started to work with Evander, in 1988, we all knew he will be a great heavyweight fighter. Almost immediately, he jumped from being the best cruiserweight in the world, to fighting the best heavyweights, like back-to-back with Buster Douglas who just beat Mike Tyson, to fighting George Foreman. Douglas thought that after beating Mike, he will have no problems with a “small” Evander – he is smaller than Adamek – but we were ready with the best tactics, he didn’t even know what to do and it was over in third round. There’s obviously a lot of experience we can use from those fights and use those years with Holyfield to help Adamek’s career. Tomek just have to be prepared and believe that he can stay with the best heavyweights for full twelve rounds, fighting on the maximum speed. It should not be a problem. I know Adamek is a gym rat, loves training and even when he is not beating people in the ring, he is in top shape. It’s very important, because with him you just work on tactics, game plan, different options and don’t waste time with worrying about weight or work ethics. This is why we have enough time. If I would thought otherwise, had any doubts about the outcome of Arreola fight, we will not be talking now and I would not be working with him.

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