Eddie Futch interview

or "You Could Learn A lot From This Smurf"

by David "Scoop" Iamele

I had the unexpected pleasure of chatting with one of boxing's all-time great trainers Eddie Futch, recently at a tight card in Saratoga Springs, New York. Eddie is the former trainer of Joe Frazier, among many others. He currently trains Riddick Bowe, Wayne Mccullough, Montell Griffin, among others. Eddie was in Saratoga with a new, young welterweight prospect of his, Brandon Mitchem, now (2-0).Brandon won his bout by first round TKO, and with Mr. Futch working with him, he's definitely a righter to keep your eyes out for in the near future. I talked with Eddie about anything I could think of off the top of my head. Here is my off the cuff, mini-interview:

DI: "I was surprised to see you out there working with this young man tonight. How did you hook up with Brandon?

EF: "He came to one of the outfits I work with, Matt Tinely, who has Wayne Mccullough - the bantamweight champion and he brought this young manto us just like he brought us Wayne. I liked what I saw. He has alot of ability, a great personality, and a desire to learn, and withthose things to work with, I felt I would be able to develop him alonq the lines that we developed Wayne. So far it's working out."

DI: "He looked really good out there tonight. Were you happy with his performance?"

EF: "I was very happy with his performance. I'm happy with his attitudeback here in the dressing room. The first thing he wanted to knowwas what he did wrong.

DI: "He seems like a good kid with alot of ability."

EF: " He's a good youn ster, just turned 19 last month. We got alot to workwith, and with hs desire I think that in a couple of years he'll bethe kind of fighter that everyone will be talking about.

DI: " How many fights have you been working with Brandon? Have you been there from the beginning?"

EF: "This is his second pro fight and I started with him with his first pro fight.

DI: "How many fighters are you working with now?

EF: "Let's see, about 10."

DI: "Riddick Howe & Wayne Mccullough, being the most well known?

EF: "Yeah, and Montell Griffin and justin Juucko. He does'nt tight muchin this country. He's been fighting in England, Ireland, and Scotland.

DI: "What weight is he in?"

EP: "He's a 130 pounder. lie's really somethingi He's got 20 or 21 wins and one loss."

DI: " Any plans for him to fight in this country?"

EF: " Yes. As soon as we can make connections for him here."

DI: .' What's next for Wayne Mccullough?"

EF: " His next fight will be Duke McKenzie, that's the fight he was suposedto have and illness caused him to cancel. Now, he'll go back to tatfight and then other fights, such as Zaragoa. Those are the two boutsthat are planned for him and as soon as those two are disposed of,he'll have dug deeply into the 122 lb. division.

DI: " Is Wayne comfortable at 122? Are there any plans for him to move up inweight even higher?

EF: " Well, now he's moved up to the 122 lb. division, as you know, from thebantamweight division. He'll be comfortable fighting at 122 for awhile,but Wayne is still growing and he'll probably be a featherweight."

DI: " Speaking of weight, what happened to Riddick Bowe prior to thefight with Golota?

EF: " Well, Riddick Sowe just let himself down and everyone else that's around him. I've seen fighters do that before. I'm hoping that, for his sake, that he'll pull out of it. He's got so much talent to 90 towaste. I was with him right from the start of his professional career.I know what he can do, cause I taught him to do these things, so I know what he can do. But it's up to him, because the facilities are there for him, if he just uses them, really. We're the same team that was with him before. Sometimes things for which we have no controlwill get into the picture which, if he listens to the team that getshim into condition, that tells him, teaches him how to fight andwhat to do with the talent he has - if he just gets back to the habitof doing the things that we ask of him to do, there's nothing wrongwith Riddick Bowe that can't be corrected."

DI: "It's got to be frustrating for you to see a young guy with all this talent, a nice guy -- I met him at the Hall of Fame he just seems tobe a good man, a family man. Is there just some reason that he can't get himself up for these fights?"

EF: "Everyone forgets the Gonzalez fight. That's two fights ago."

DI: "Right. Now that seems to be the reverse case then with the Golota houthe was totally pumped up for the fight, looked great." EF: "Now, see -- in less then two fights he can't lose that."

DI: "It's obvious he has it there .."

EF: "He has it! It shows!"

DI: "Will he fight Golota, again?" EF: "I imagine that will be in the works. It would be the logical match tomake. But right now, with all the commotion about the last fight stillcirculating in the air, you can t tell what's going to happen.Everyone gets settled and some degree of reason returns, then we'll see."

DI: "What are your thoughts on the heavyweight division today? You've beenaround boxing along time, you see these guys who maybe fight once ortwice a year and they're getting paid big money not to fight each other. Have you ever seen anything like this?"

EF: "I've never seen it before. It's the worst thing that could happen in boxing. I'm reading a very good book on Joe Louis. Joe & I came up together. it reminds me of how the division used to be. Louis wanted tokeep improving on his work all of the time. He had 25 successful titledefences, when he wasn't winni ng title fights - he boxed exhibitions. Many exhibitions, just to keep busy, just to stay in the game and staying the ring, just to keep doing the things he could do. You don't seethat anymore. Back in those days, we wanted to stay within reach of fighting condition at all times. Because many times, alot of the fellacouldn't get work because there was so little. So we stayed ready allthe time, so if there was any break in the card we could jump in at any time."

DI: "What's next for Montell? We haven't seen alot of him since his win over James Toney."

KF: "He just fought on the Garden show, and he knocked out his opponent.He took him out in the ninth, I believe."

DI: "How's he doing?"

EF: "I left him in the gym in Las Vegas, and took off down here. He's in good shape."

DI: "Is it hard for him to find a big name fight now, since he looked so good against Toney?"

EF: "It's hard, but we've kept him busy. He's been fighting alot over in England then one in Chicago. He's got 20 wins now. He's had 6 fights since July -- he had 14 when he fought Toney."

DI: "Do you see any heavyweights coming up now that show you any promise?"

EF: "There two or three good youngsters. There's one I'm quite impressed with. He hasn't made a big splash yet, but you can watch for him, his name is Mike Grant. Pretty good fighter. I saw him walk into the gym and he's come along way in a short time. He's a big guy too, 6'6"

DI: "Going to the other end. one of the new guys that people are starting to become aware of is David Tua. What do you think about him? Lot'sof people think he's too short. Can he really be too short?"

EF: "No, no, no . . . It's not the size of the fighter, it's the fight in the fighter. Joe Frazier, he was only 5'll" or so. Dwight Qawi, was a hort light heavyweight."

DI: "Speaking of Joe, he's been in the press alot lately for his commentson Ali..."

EF: "I know, Iknow.. I'm so sorry that he hasn't learned.. to go public with that attitude.. He always resented Ali for the things Ali usedto say when he was making publicity for their fights."

DI: "Don't you think now, enough is enough, and Joe should let it go, ordo you understand why he's so bitter?"

EF: "He's been bitter now.. I retired Joe in 1978.. he's been bitter for18 years. What does he think he's gonna get out of being bitter?(chuckles) This is the worst demonstration of his bitterness. yet. So, what can you do about it? Ifought it. I fought it all the time when I was with him, and I see him often now and if it comes up, Ialways tell him I don't want to talk about it."

DI: "How old are you now, Eddie?"

EF: "I'm 85. I just had a birthday on the 9th."

DI: "Congratulations & happy birthday. My sister's is on the 9th, too."

DI: " You look good, you keep going.. how do you feel?"

EF: "Yeah, good, good."

DI: "God bless you. Thank you very much for talking with me Mr. Futch, really appreciate it."

© 1996 The Cyber Boxing Zone
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