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A Dormant Storm Cloud

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There was a time early in his career when IBF light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud was among the most active fighters in the sport. But as he moved up the rankings and went through a litany of changes to his management and promotional situations, Cloud got bogged down and became a part-time prizefighter. Since August of 2009, when he captured the vacant title by besting Clinton Woods, he has engaged in just two more fights since then, heading into his bout this Saturday night against Yusaf Mack at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri.

 

It’s been just over six months since Cloud, who comes in with a mark of 22-0 with 18 knockouts, has been in the ring. Back in mid-December, he decisioned Fulgencio Zuniga over 12 rounds in Miami. From that point on, it wasn’t clear when he was going to return to action. Finally, Cloud was added to the card featuring Devon Alexander’s main event against Lucas Matthysse, which is part of an HBO tripleheader.


"Everything happens for a reason; I was patient and I’ll get my turn in due time," Cloud told Maxboxing. When asked what he did during his layoff, he stated, "When I wasn’t in camp, I was spending time with my family. Last year, I spent two months out of the year in training camp. I got a six-year-old daughter; she growing up; she moving real fast. I have a beautiful wife. So during the off-season, I try to spend as much time [with them] as I can."

 

During this period, the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Jean Pascal and Chad Dawson were engaging in high-profile fights. Cloud was essentially out of the mix for whatever reason. "It seemed like all the champions were matching up and fighting each other and Tavoris Cloud just wasn’t being spoken about and I felt like, ’What’s going on?’ Like I had been blacklisted or being blackballed, that sorta thing," said Cloud, in his deep southern accent.

 

The situation was odd, given that not only is Cloud an undefeated American fighter (who also took part in an entertaining affair with Glen Johnson last August on HBO), he holds a major title belt and brings a fun style into the ring. However, in an era when HBO promises future dates to fighters whether they win or lose (like Alexander and Sergiy Dzinziruk) or has in-house, output deals with certain promoters, being with Don King nowadays makes you an outsider.

 

King says it’s not about the complexion but the connections that have kept Cloud from becoming an HBO regular.


"Y’ know what? They are really practicing discrimination and I’m gonna tell you why I say that," explained the bombastic promoter. "Because this guy is the most exciting guy out there and even Larry Merchant- who can’t stand the way that I win- says the guy was the best fighter, the best fighter on the card when they seen him on HBO and because I stand up. I find a lot of people turn on me and I can’t help that- because that’s what they do. That’s what makes America so great; you have a freedom of choice but here’s a guy that friend and foe alike have to admit that this man is an exciting fighter. He throws punches back; when you be hitting him, he hitting you back and he’s a great fighter. But because he’s with me...now, if he leaves me like with Bernard Hopkins, all of a sudden they become a superstar. I take Hopkins from the penitentiary and take him to the heights that are unknown and they say they don’t want him in the [Madison Square] Garden; they don’t want him on HBO no more and soon as he leaves me, the ex-bad boy, he’s the wonder of the land.

 

"So I understand that. So that’s growing pains in this great nation called America."

 

It has to be stated, Hopkins was long out of prison before becoming a world champion and coming to King but the promoter has a point. Dawson- who is the very essence of today’s passionless performer- is only a staple on the network because of Gary Shaw’s unique ability to pull the wool over the eyes of Ross Greenburg and Kery Davis. This is why Hopkins is now essentially forced to face Dawson next, not because of any public demand or yearning but obligation.

 

There was a time when King had this kind of leverage but he is now a lion in winter. Still, once in awhile, he can still roar and was able to get Cloud this slot, along with the heavyweight tilt between Bermane Stiverne and Ray Austin (which if anything, proves that King can still hustle network executives when he needs to).

 

Cloud’s trainer, Al Bonanni, says, "There wasn’t anything that was happening but Don kept pressing HBO for a date. They had promised Tavoris a date and they were talking about giving him a date in the first week in August with somebody. And then Don, who had the Devon Alexander fight lined up in St. Charles for the 25th of June, asked them to put Tavoris and another fighter on there and combine the two dates, rather than give him two dates. So he asked me if he could be ready and I said yeah. It was about ten weeks when they notified us."

 

At 29 years of age, the hard-hitting native of Tallahassee, Florida should be in the prime of his athletic career but it’s imperative that he’s out there more in the public eye and not just stagnating on the sidelines. Bonanni agrees, "We want to fight as much as we can. That’s why we had the mandatory and I thank Don; we fought in December and that’s why Don pushed the fight into June. He feels that Tavoris is a star and he wanted to use him and he convinced HBO to include him on this date."

 

HBO shouldn’t be cajoled into using a fighter like Cloud. They should showcase him because he’s a fighter that brings it. In an era when more and more boxers are about protecting their supposed pound-for-pound statuses or unbeaten records, Cloud is a fighter that takes chances inside the ring and- get this- he actually makes for good TV when he gets the opportunity. Yes, boxing is a sport but equally as important as that is at this level, it is entertainment; believe it or not. And Cloud is someone who brings a good, solid night of action to the viewing public.


"The first thing that has to happen, they just gotta open the door and let me in; put me in the ring with these guys and we gonna find out some good stuff," promised Cloud, "which I think I could be the man at 175, if they give me the opportunity to and go ahead and start making these fights." When Bonanni is asked for his admittedly skewed opinion of where his man stands in the light heavyweight class, he says, "Well, you’re asking the guy who handles him, my biased opinion is he’s the best light heavyweight. He’ll beat any light heavyweight in the world if he’s healthy and has a good training camp. He’s very strong; he trains very hard, if we can keep him active."

 

Bonanni adds, "To me, he’s the hardest puncher; he has an aggressive style- which I always like to train- he’s not afraid to mix it up. Sometimes I want him to do a little more defense after he finishes punching but other than that, I think he’s the best. On any given Saturday night, he can beat any of ’em."

 

When asked who he’d like to face next, should he down Mack, Cloud answered (only half-jokingly), "After Yusaf Mack, I’d like Manny Pacquiao to come up to light heavyweight so I can whoop his ass."


OK, but more along his weight class, Cloud says, "Of course, the big names in the division right now are Pascal, Dawson, Hopkins, [Nathan] Cleverly, [Beibut] Shumenov, any of those guys. I prefer any of those guys any day as the main course meal."

 

There is talk of matching Cloud with Pascal underneath Hopkins-Dawson later this year. When asked about that possibility, King, who’s always one to mince words, stated, "I don’t know but they are making motions for that. Always want to put him in a subliminal position where he can beat any of ’em. I would like to go for Bernard Hopkins; I’d like to go for anyone that’s in the top ten or another title, whoever another titleholder is. Go on out there and unify the titles; make it happen and let ’em know we’ll take on Bernard. We’ll take Pascal; we’ll take on all of ‘em in one night."

 

Uh, yeah, Don, that’s a lot of faith in your charge you have.

 

"Yes it is," said King, who was rolling at this point. "Y’ know what I mean and I stand behind it. When he knock out Yusaf Mack, instead of being the ’Mack Attack,’ it’s going to be Tavoris Cloud with his thunder and lightning and that’s going to be the attack that’s going to be out there and they can’t get around it because they’re going to have a guy named Steve Kim that’s going to keep writing it,’What is it?’"

 

Don, I’ll keep doing what I can but honestly, this is more about you and your fighter.

 

KINGDOM

 

You just have to let King be King when you interview him and enjoy the ride. This was his soliloquy as I asked about relationships with the network determining what’s on HBO and not the merit of the fighters:

 

"That is the truth and that is the one thing I can concur with Bob Arum on. The networks are taking over the business and they don’t know how to make the matches but they make things happen, as they think to get ratings but they are going to find out it’s going to be a shocking revelation that it doesn’t work. You’ve got to be able to give people what they want and the people will respond and that’s why you get four world title fights on this card coming up and one headliner with Devon Alexander against Lucas ’Maltese’- and these are the things we got to deal with, man.


"I put on a card that you think is a pay-per-view card- this is not a pay-per-view card and HBO is only going to show three fights. There’s three on the screen, five on the screen! Y’ know what I mean! So we’re going to do it, man, but we’re going to need your help because they’re going to jump on me; I’m going to be to blame, y’know that. But I don’t care; I’m with the people. I’m a promoter for the people, of the people, by the people and my magic lies in my people ties.

 

"So I stand with the people- not alone."

 

He lost me there early on but I enjoyed hearing that, nonetheless.

 

CANELO-JUNIOR

 

So what’s next for Saul Alvarez, after his 12th round stoppage of Ryan Rhodes this past weekend? Well, it’s full speed ahead on him fighting again as part of a split-site card alongside Victor Ortiz vs. Floyd Mayweather. Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said on Monday afternoon, "I met with my matchmakers and we’ll be meeting with "Canelo’ in a couple of weeks but yes, the idea is to have him fight September 17th."

 

As for who he’d face, Schaefer said, "I think if [Ricardo] Mayorga and King are not outpricing themselves, then it’s certainly a possibility, as are a few others. But again, we’ll sit down with ’Canelo’ and discuss with him what he wants to do next and then take it from there."

 

Regardless of what is being said or reported, Vanes Martirosyan, who stopped Saul Roman in a WBC eliminator, is not Alvarez’s mandatory yet.

 

"He’s not; Ryan Rhodes was his mandatory and I can tell you that when we negotiated with Hatton Promotions, they sure let us know that they were the mandatory," said Schaefer with a laugh, clarifying their position. "It cost us a lot of money, so he basically has no mandatory for the next 12 months."

 

When asked about a possible future showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Schaefer answered, "Well, we don’t think Chavez is going to want to do that, to tell you the truth. We would do it. We’d have to agree on some sort of a catchweight but yeah, we would do it."

 

Bob Arum, whose company, Top Rank, reps Junior, told Maxboxing on Tuesday, "We would love that fight; the sooner the better. The sooner the better; we’d forget everything and make that the next fight." As for what is next for his fighter, Arum said, "Chavez has been penciled in by HBO for November 19th and he may well fight in early September in Mexico before that."

 

TWEET TWEET

 

And yes, @BobArum is the real Twitter account of Arum. So someone please tell Oscar De La Hoya and they can continue to patch things up and start making some fights.

 

SUMMER FLURRIES

 

Schaefer confirmed that both parties have turned in their signed contracts and the fight between Marcos Maidana and Robert Guerrero is a go for August 27 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. Schaefer says he will try and make this card, which will be televised by HBO, a tripleheader. Heavyweight Seth Mitchell might get on this broadcast...As for a possible Lucian Bute-Kelly Pavlik fight for November 5th, Arum says, "We’re working on it with Jean Bedard [of InterBox], who’s a friend of ours. It’s definitely being worked on." Pavlik, though, may get a “ShoBox” tune-up in the summer in Youngstown, Ohio...Maybe I’m crazy but based on their most recent fights- even though he lost, I think Glen Johnson matches up better than Pavlik right now versus Bute...Heavyweight Chris Arreola will face Friday Ahunanya on Saturday July 9th in Atlantic City on the Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara undercard...Have you seen Jill Scott since her weight loss? Yeah, less is definitely more...Was “Game of Thrones” on HBO a masterpiece or what? I don’t know how I can wait till next spring when it resumes...So does it look like the NFL will have a 2011 season or not?...Remember when the BoSox were struggling? That seems like decades ago. Now it’s like they’re playing slow-pitch softball...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.



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