Los Angeles, August 21, 2008 - . . .Punches in bunches, stay off the ropes, move your head, hands up. . .” These are the words four of boxing’s best trainers-Roger Bloodworth, Ignacio Beristain, Dean Campos and Buddy McGirt-are saying these days as they prepare their respective pugilists-Joel Casamayor, Juan Manuel Marquez, Sergio Mora and Vernon Forrest-fortheir upcoming bouts.
Casamayor vs. Marquez – “The Challenge,” a 12-round bout for Casamayor’s Ring Magazine World Lightweight Championship, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Romanza Boxing Productions and sponsored by Cerveza Tecate, Cazadores Tequila and Southwest Airlines. Mora-Forrest II is the 12-round co-featured bout presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Tournament of Contenders, Gary Shaw Productions and Fight Knight, LLC. The double header will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Here’s a look at these four great trainers and what they have to say about their stars while bunkered down in daily training camp life.
ROGER BLOODWORTH (Head Trainer and Camp Chef – Joel Casamayor)
Trainer Roger Bloodworth followed his fighter Joel “El Cepillo” Casamayor (36-3-1, 22 KOs) to Phoenix, AZ for training camp almost seven weeks ago where they set up shop at the MD Systems Boxing Gym, the same gym they used for Casamayor’s past four fights. Deep into camp, Bloodworth has Casamayor spending hours in the gym and sparring three to four times a week with several different sparring partners. Casamayor and Bloodworth are back together for Joel’s second consecutive fight since they reunited for Casamayor’s impressive performance on March 22, 2008 – a knock out of previously undefeated and then World Champion Michael Katsidis. Bloodworth, who trained Casamayor when he defeated Lamont Pearson and Diego Corrales in 2006, not only serves as Casaymayor’s trainer, but as his personal chef as well.
Bloodworth is one of the most experienced trainers in the boxing today, training some of the best fighters out there including Casamayor, Jeff Lacy and David Tua. Previous clients have included former world champions Eddie Hopson, John John Molina, Raul Marquez, Fernando Vargas, Robbie Peden, Evander Holyfield and Pernell Whitaker. Bloodworth has been a professional trainer since 1989 having started 10 years earlier in the amateur ranks before moving up to the pros.
“This camp has been a little bit different for Joel. He is a little more intense and focused than past camps. He’s been a pro for a long time, so he trains the same way every time, but this camp he is more dedicated, more intense and training really hard for Marquez.”
Bloodworth spends most of his time going from training camp to training camp, hardly ever making it home to Illinois, but he enjoys the challenge of participating in big fights with experienced fighters like Casamayor’s test against Marquez. He works with Joel to keep him calm and focused at the task at hand.
“Joel has fought guys that were as good and well-proven as Marquez in the past. Marquez is a great fighter, but so is Joel. He is preparing like he normally does against a great fighter. He doesn’t get nervous or over excited or anxious, it’s just a fight for him. This is his job and he is doing what he has to do to be prepared for September 13th.”
Although training in the gym, running and watching films is the normal key to success, Bloodworth has taken his job a step further, by not only acting as Casamayor’s head trainer, but also as the camp chef.
“The trick is to eat, but not over eat, so you have to control portions. Joel eats very well, three maybe four times a day (and if I’m not looking maybe five the trainer said with a wink). I don’t believe in starving fighters. I started cooking at training camp because it was cheaper for me to cook than to hire a chef. I don’t cook really fancy. . .I just cook simple meals that are healthy. Joel really likes chicken, salmon, steamed vegetables and once in a while I make pasta, but I only use whole wheat or brown rice pasta. We don’t eat any junk food, just a clean diet because he has to burn more calories than he takes in.”
While Bloodworth is busy with the time spent training in the gym and maintaining Joel’s weight with a healthy diet in the kitchen, he also spends time watching films of Marquez’s past fights in order to develop a strategy for a victory on September 13th.
“We’ve been watching films and Marquez is an excellent fighter. I think its going to be a great fight. Joel’s weight is good, training is good, but we don’t want to be on weight too soon, because I like to have my fighters be able to eat right up until the time of the weigh in and bring them down slowly.”
IGNACIO “NACHO” BERISTAIN (Head Trainer – Juan Manuel Marquez)
Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, has been training Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez (48-4-1, 35 KOs) for nearly 25 years, well before Marquez began his impressive professional career at the age of 19. The duo is once again training in Mexico City at the Romanza Gym. On Friday afternoon, Marquez travels to Nevado de Toluca where he is tucked away in a no-frills cabin, free from interruption from the outside world (as well as plumbing). Beristain watches over Marquez every day with a careful eye. Here is how the long-standing duo handles the rigors of camp and preparing for another battle.
When one looks at Beristain’s 47-year professional career it is easy to see why he is considered one of the best trainers to ever emerge from Mexico. He has trained current and former World Champions Rafael Marquez, Ricardo “Finito” Lopez, Daniel “Chato” Zaragoza, Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez, Gilberto Roman, Jose Luis Bueno, Melchor Cob Castro, Gustavo “Guty” Espadas, Guadalupe Pintor, Eric Ortiz, Víctor Manuel Rabanales, Enrique Sanchez, Vicente Saldivar, and many more.
The 69-year-old trainer has described this camp as a change of pace for the experienced Marquez because he is going up a weight class and has had to alter some of Marquez’s routine to accommodate the weight difference.
“We have been working really hard in the gym. Juan has been lifting more weights to focus on gaining strength and muscle. We have changed his diet as well. He has been eating more carbohydrates to gain the extra weight. Moving up in weight is a very difficult process for Juan because he is a natural 126 pound fighter and normally fights at 130 pounds, so he is going up even more. The weight is definitely an advantage for Casamayor because after the weigh-in, Juan will not gain that much weight. He will probably fight around 142 pounds at the most and Casamayor will definitely go up more than that.”
Nacho and Juan have a different relationship than most trainer/fighter duos. They have been working together for over 25 years and have developed a special bond that extends outside of the gym.
“We have a different relationship than I have with my other fighters. . .it is more than just fighter and trainer. He is more than just my fighter; Juan is one of my best friends. My job is to prevent mistakes for Juan, so I am being very careful with his diet and his training to make sure he is 100 percent ready so that nothing will go wrong on September 13th.”
DEAN CAMPOS (Head Trainer – Sergio Mora)
Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora (21-0-1, 5 KOs) is deep into training camp in his hometown of East Los Angeles. As the champion of the first season of NBC’s “The Contender,” Mora moved on to bigger and better professional fights, finally reaching his world title dream by defeating Forrest for the WBC World Super Welterweight crown in June 2008. Training Mora for the rematch are Dean Campos and John Montelongo, who have been with him since the age of 15. Mora’s training regimen includes sparring three times a week, focusing on strength and conditioning and eating a balanced diet of certain fats, carbohydrates and proteins that his nutritionist Robert Ferguson has created for him in order to keep him performing his best during the training process.
Dean Campos, who has been training Mora since hewas an amateur fighter, is preparing for Mora for his upcoming September 13th rematch against Vernon Forrest from the comforts of their Los Angeles-based training camp just as they have done throughout their 15-year relationship. The team prefers to stay close to home to alleviate pressures of being away from family and friends which gives them the ability to focus on training camp.
“Camp is going well and he is working hard as usual. We’re always confident that we will be successful in a fight because we put so much into our preparation and know it will pay off in the end. We like to cover the bases so that there’s nothing left for us to be surprised with when we get into the ring with our opponent.”
Due to their long standing relationship and their shared journey throughout Mora’s career, Campos has opted to focus on training only Mora at this stage. Being that Mora has reached his life-long dream of winning a world title, Campos has left his other athletes in order to give his full support and dedication to Mora. With the extra time to prepare and the first bout behind them, Campos has a clear game plan of what he needs to do to prepare Mora in this rematch.
“Basically, we are doing some of the things we worked on in preparation for the first fight, only this time around, with a lot of practice we’re able to do them better. I think Vernon will bring more pressure so we’re definitely going to be pulling out some new moves.”
Campos discussed the importance of their entire camps’ participation in Mora’s success, stating that assistant trainer John Montelongo is a crucial piece to the puzzle.
“Our relationship is like a triangle, we all have our own strengths, so each one of us takes care of our own corner and it just works…we’re like a pyramid.”
BUDDY MCGIRT (Head Trainer – Vernon Forrest)
James Buddy McGirt, arguably one of the best trainers in the world, is training former two-division World Champion Vernon “The Viper” Forrest (40-3, 29 KOs) for a fifth consecutive fight. The duo started working together when Forrest beat former World Champion Ike Quartey in August 2006 and have continued to do so since, including Forrest’s wins against Carlos Baldomir and Michele Piccirillo. Forrest chose to remain in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, to train for this fight and asked McGirt if he would mind travelling away from his usual training locale in Vero Beach, Florida, for camp. McGirt is making a sacrifice for Forrest, as he is not a big fan of travelling to train fighters, but he believes it is what the pugilist needs to be victorious September 13.
“I don’t mind coming to Atlanta because that is what Vernon wanted and it fit my schedule. I think psychologically it’s good for Vernon too as he was away from home too long for his last camp and probably suffered from some emotional burnout. Besides, it’s not too far from Florida and I go home on the weekends. It sure beats going to California which I absolutely will never do again (McGirt travelled to Big Bear, California to train Fernando Vargas for his fight against Fitz Vanderpool in 2003 and returned to another California camp in 2006 to train Joel Casamayor for his second fight with Diego Corrales). My comfort zone is the East Coast.”
Since his official retirement as a fighter in 1997, James “Buddy” McGirt, who is joined in Forrest’s camp by longtime Forrest coach Al Mitchell and conditioning specialist Charles Watson, has successfully trained countless fighters and 10 world champions.
“I turned pro on January 17, 1976 and on January 18, I knew I wanted to be a trainer,” McGirt said. “Even when I was fighting I was always in the gym helping amateurs. When people ask me if I think I was a better fighter or trainer, I lean towards trainer (although most say fighter because I was a World Champion) because I love teaching and helping people. Working with fighters is my passion. It gives me great satisfaction watching them succeed.”
Team Forrest has set up accommodations in one of Forrest’s homes-secluded in the woods away from much of anything. While this is peaceful for Forrest, it is much less so for McGirt.
“Listen. The fighters say there is nothing to do in Vero, but Vernon’s got me out here in the middle of nowhere,” said McGirt. “It is so dark at night that I am afraid of being outside by myself-I have to ride around in my car if I want to smoke a cigar.”
Forrest’s upset loss to Mora last June has helped to keep both McGirt and Forrest focused mentally on the fight. McGirt sees his primary role at Forrest’s camp to help keep him calm and stress-free during their six week training period, not to teach the veteran fighter new moves.
“The most devastating thing for a fighter is to lose to a guy you know you should never have lost to in the first place,” said McGirt. “That alone lights a fire inside of you. My job is to maintain that fire inside of Vernon and make sure that it doesn’t ignite to a five-alarm disaster or on the flip side, burn out entirely. We don’t talk much about the first fight-if he brings it up cool, but it is not necessary to dwell on what happened. I just have to get him ready to not let it happen again. And for Vernon, whose boxing skills and experience have proven themselves to be superior to Mora’s skills, it is keeping him mentally relaxed up until fight time that counts the most.”
“For his first fight against Mora, Vernon was in camp too long, almost three months. He over-trained and peaked early. There were days when he should have taken off and he did something anyway, whether running an extra mile or shadow-boxing a few rounds. When Vernon beat Picirillo and Baldomir, he had six week camps for both fights and he looked great. We have a set plan and schedule now and he is sticking to it which makes my job that much easier.”
McGirt is the father of eight kids (seven of which are girls) ranging in age from six to twenty-five years old. He already has three grandchildren and is steadily watching the progress of his only son, 20-year old James Jr., as he continues his professional career.
“I get a different kind of nervous feeling when my son fights than when the other fighters I work with get in the ring. With my son it’s as if I am getting in the ring with him and I almost get the same feeling as when I was fighting. But whether it is fighting, training or training my son, the same thing happens every time. Once the bell rings, the nervousness is gone and it is time to fight.”
The Casamayor vs. Marquez and Mora-Forrest II pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, has a suggested retail price of $44.95, will be distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View and will be available to 71 million pay-per-view homes. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry. For Casamayor vs. Marquez fight week updates, log on to www.hbo.com.
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