Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dwight Qawi: "Evander was juiced!"

By Rob Scott

I’ve always been a person who would listen. I’ve sat and talked to a spectrum of boxing people from promoters, to managers, to broadcasters, etc. But of them all, the angle of the fighter, past and present, always seem to make me scratch my head with interest.

I’ve heard war stories that have taken place in the ring as well out; that, along with the varied stories of just what lured fighters into the ring and ultimately into our psyche, adds to a fighter’s intrigue.

Former WBC light heavyweight and WBA cruiser weight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi is one that has often made me scratch my head with interest, because he has been one who will tell it likes he sees it. When I spoke to The Camden Buzzsaw recently, Qawi spoke from the heart and pulled no punches.

Rob Scott: I’m one who has always felt that with boxing, whether past or present, stories are abundant. Your story is one that definitely has its place when talking about the tales of fighters. Tell us about Dwight Qawi from the start, when you were Dwight Braxton.

Dwight Qawi: I started late; 25 years old, back then that was considered old. The reason I started late was because of my brushes with the legal system and that sought of thing, and at twenty-five years old, you can’t live at home with your mother. There was a sense of urgency. I was working and surviving, but had ambition.

RS: What made you turn to the sport of boxing?

DQ: Street fighting. A guy saw my work and took me to the gym and introduced me, and I had a fight in one month with no amateur career.

RS: I know it’s a clichéd question, but what was your crowning moment in the sport?

DQ: I guess it would be that first title was my most crowning achievement, because I was the underdog. I came out of nowhere, you know? I was fast, but some thought that I was a flash in the pan, but I had confident. I was confident, but you still had to get past other guys – and I did. That was a heck of a thing; everything else was like; I’m here, now I can do this.

RS: Not everybody will feel that feeling of winning that championship. Tell us, and those who will eventually win the title, what it felt like when the announcer said, ‘New World Champion’?

DQ: Oh man, it was a sense of exhilaration, like a high. It took me a couple of weeks to come back down to the ground. It was a feeling of walking around like you’re floating; it really is, especially when the odds are against you. Its like a Cinderella story when you’re not supposed to be there. They told me “You’re too short to be a light heavyweight and you’re too old,” and all of that. I went against the odds, because every time I went into the ring, I was just an opponent. I just kept winning and I believed in me. You can read the reviews and listen to everybody else, you feel like you’re going against something.

RS: So there was never a moment before winning the title that you may have felt that you might not do it?

DQ: No, I was psyched. That was always a thing about me; I guess that it was a cockiness that I had, but it was cockiness in a good way. I just refused and always thought I could do it. I always liked going against the odds.

RS: The last time we spoke you said that you haven’t watched the sport all that much, has that changed since then?

DQ: No, I haven’t watched it that much because it’s confusing with all the stuff going on. I liked it when it was just simple, and I have a lot of resentments also. I look at the sport and the people involved and they don’t have a true love for the sport. I think in boxing, like you, I can tell and believe that the love and concern is there. I believe you have an interest in so many ways, but every body seems to come in like leaches with the fighters; I hate that. The fighters just don’t get what they deserve, you know? People are still asking today, why don’t they have a pension for the fighters? Everybody looks at the fighters like a piece of meat. Me knowing that, it is engrained in me. Sure I may look at one or two fighters and fights, but overall, my view is everybody looks at the fighter as a piece of meat.

RS: So that’s why you hardly watch the fight game at all?

DQ: I just think that there are these guys who act as big time commissioners, and man they are pretenders. You have those who come in to train and act like they’re training, and I feel, but I can be wrong, but they don’t have the true interest of the fighters. No one is doing anything to change things. And again, it’s just my opinion, but when I see these guys parade around, I get ulcers in my stomach.

RS: What was the last fight that you’ve been to?

DQ: I have gone to the small arenas. Grass roots places like the Blue Horizon in Philly and places like that, but the big fights, I haven’t been to in like four years.

RS: You use to tell me that you wanted to become a trainer or manager and help fighters, has that changed?

DQ: No, I would love to train or manage to do right by the fighter, but I’m tied up with some bureaucratic BS with where I work at now, and I’m fighting in another arena. But it’s just about to be resolved. As soon as that happen, I can adjust my schedule and comeback and be an asset in whatever role I play in it.

RS: In our talks, I wanted to pick your brain and ask, since you fought both, who would have won between a young Holyfield and a slick Michael Spinks?

DQ: Who won between Spinks and Tyson? They say that styles make fights, but Spinks couldn’t deal with Holyfield. He would have been blown out before four rounds, for real; unless he wanted to have mercy on him or that kind of thing.

With Spinks, he got lucky a lot of times. With Holmes he got fortunate. With me he got fortunate because my nose was broke and I couldn’t fight my fight. I shouldn’t have taken the fight. I should have gotten my nose corrected and healed, but that something that happened. It was fortunate for him; I mean he ran and jabbed and that kind of thing, but he wouldn’t have been able to run from Holyfield or even hurt Holyfield enough to keep him off of him. Holyfield would have gotten to him, especially using the juice.

RS: Can I quote you on that?

DQ: You mean about Holyfield and the juice?

RS: Yes.

DQ: Yes, and it’s not just Holyfield and boxing, but sports period. The steroids things seem to be becoming acceptable. The public is different, and the fans are different. I look at the UFC, and I’m not overly knocking it, but it’s just like street fighting, you know? It’s like going out in an alley; you might as well go out and pick up a brick or a bat. Using steroids seems like it is being accepted in a lot of sports like it’s fair play, and it’s not.

RS: There were more whispers that Evander and Tyson used it, but there wasn’t anything loud said.

DQ: Yeah, but I’m talking about all sports now. Athleticism is not what it used to be where you dig down and have it come from your gut. You know, by working hard and using all of your natural ability, and you don’t use no enhancers and get an edge from nothing artificial. If you turn a blind eye to that, the integrity of the sport is lost. But I do still love boxing and that is why I want to come back and be and asset.

RS: But when will that be?

DQ: It should be soon. In like a year, all the bureaucratic stuff that I’m going through will be resolved. I would love to do it, because I love the sport and I have the know-how. Boxing is about skills. I remember doing a commercial with Archie Moore and he said that he was looking in a window and saw the silhouette of two guys sparring and fell in love with the moves. That is how you would look at it, if you truly understand it as the sweet science, but it’s lost. Now days, fighters try to pound each other out and there is no finesse, and that is what is lost. I would like to go back and help fighters and be instrumental in their development.

RS: Another fighter that I wanted to know what you thought of is Roy Jones Jr. at light heavyweight in your era or even before you; what would he have done?

DQ: They wouldn’t have ever let him get away with some of the stuff he did. With Tarver he was exposed. As far as his ability, he was naturally fast. He could do things that you couldn’t teach people, but like the old guy who fought Ray Robinson, you know the one who moved up from welterweights and put Robinson in a street fight? Carmen?

RS: Carmen Basilio?

DQ: Yes, Basilio. He put him in a street fight and kind of negated some of Robinson’s speed. There are other ways of dealing with speed and people just didn’t do it with him (Jones) and he got away with it. But when guys like him lose that natural quickness and reflexes he became suspect, I personally think.

Whereas an example, you had guys in my day like Yaqui Lopez, Jerry Celestine and other guys that weren’t champs who would have given him (Jones) and most of these guys fits. You know it’s about finesse; you know there are nights when you think a guy is going to win and he don’t. Take ‘Buster’ Douglas; on paper he should have lost, but he got up off the canvas and won.

RS: The night that Evander first beat Tyson, did you think he would do that?

DQ: No. What had happened was Tyson had nobody in his camp. Now I’m not saying that they didn’t know nothing, but he really needed more expertise at that level. What Tyson needed when I was out with him one time, was what my trainer used to say to me, which was “stop practicing your mistakes.” He’d see me do something and he’d correct it. What would happen is the other guy’s corner would pick those mistakes up. I remember when Saad tried to do that, but by the time I fought him, I corrected my mistakes. He tried to bend down and hit me with the left uppercut and then come over with the right hand. From me always bending over it was a good plan, but I had already made the adjustments. Your corner should be very key for things like that, but one thing that I saw Tyson do when I was with him, was he always jumped in the air when swinging. He was always leaving the floor, and you should never leave the floor when throwing a punch. He was leaping with his punches and if you watch the fight with Evander, Evander just took a half of a step back, and when Tyson was in the air he couldn’t adjust. Evander countered and hurt him. The old Tyson would have beat Evander, because he used to keep his feet planted with that old peek-a-boo style like Floyd Patterson, but he didn’t use it with Evander. He actually should have blown Evander out.

RS: Who was your toughest opponent?

DQ: I would definitely have to say the first Saad fight – that was a heck of a fight. He was tough…he was tough. Even though I was older with Evander and had to chase him, but if you watch the fight, he was dead in that fight. Ask the people at your website to watch the fight in the fourth and fifth rounds, and they’ll tell you how dead he was. Watch it, because it was going as I planned, but I thought I would get him around the ninth. It was my pressure that I was putting on. It was going as I planned but after the fourth or fifth round, they gave him something to drink. Watch it…watch it. Then he comes back and looks better in the last half of the fight than anyone looks in the first two or three rounds…that’s crazy – that’s crazy. That was worst than a stick-up, I mean let’s be fair. I have resentment for it today because I know in my heart of hearts that he cheated and a lot of people are cheating today. That’s what I say about sports; you put your heart in it and you think everything is fair, and then it’s not.

RS: What do you think can be done?

DQ: A lot can be done; I mean they don’t even test like they should; they turn a blind eye. And a lot of guys walk around with their suits and getting a hundred thousand dollars a year and act like they are squeaky clean are full of BS. They’re on the take too. I can remember when Larry Hazzard was the referee for my fight with Michael Spinks, and he would never let me fight inside. I would get close, and every time I got in, he would say, “break”, and wouldn’t let us fight on the inside. I really believe that Butch Lewis greased his palms, because they picked the right referee. Also back then, you use to have to ask for the test if you suspected something. The only thing is they used to say that it was too expensive. But anyway, you can hear my resentment.

RS: I think you just may be an asset to the sport, but I have to tell you about this quote from a guy I heard on TV. He was talking about how his resentment before for someone, and went on to say, “Hating and resenting someone is the same as you taking poison and then expecting the person you hate to die.”

DQ: I have resentment and hate what is being done, but I don’t hate anybody. I don’t have an unhealthy type of anger where it consumes me. I’m not even boxing anymore and I have moved on. I just hate that no one is doing anything about it. Hey, anger is a real emotion, but resentment really means to relive anger. I can resent something, but not where I wear it around my neck. Resentment is a real human emotion that you can use as a motivation. A lot of people confuse things when they say, “Don’t let it get to you”, and it don’t get to me…or in a way that it is harmful. Hey, I can have displeasure, but I don’t walk around dwelling on it.

RS: I understand, but I’m just saying just that, not to let it consume you. I know you look; who do you look at out there?

DQ: Hey, I wish them all the best, but I definitely like Mayweather because he is a throwback, as far as I’m concerned. Hey, he comes from fighting family, and he’s got skills.

RS: Did you check out their press tour?

DQ: I heard about it.

RS: Yes he is really trying to get under his (De La Hoya) skin.

DQ: He’s trying to make him (De La Hoya) lose his composure.

RS: Some are saying that he is acting thuggish, but as I wrote in an article a while back, people want him and say Judah, to be and act like people that they are not. I say, let Mayweather be the first Floyd Mayweather Jr., instead of the second Ray Leonard. Let Zab Judah be the first Judah, not the second Joe Louis, as far as manners.

DQ: Hey, it’s nothing wrong with selling wolf ticket before a fight. That’s a part of the hype. I used to tell Mike (Tyson), “Stop reading your reviews.” Especially with all the press that is around him and the charges that he had; whether trumped up or not, it can be a lot of pressure. You got be mentally tough. It all can be distracting, because you’re human. Anyway, I want to be an asset and help where I can…hopefully soon.

RS: Thanks Dwight, I appreciate talking to you again, as always. I also hope you do make that return.

DQ: Thank you.

I’d like to thank Dwight Qawi again for opening up to our readers and myself, as he was shooting it straight from the heart.


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