What seemed to upset Coleman more than anything is Paris’ claim that he is simply a prospect who is not in Paris’ league. At age 27, Coleman has amassed a 19-1-1 record with five knockouts but the education he has gotten along the way is what he says defines him as a fighter thus far.
“You know, honestly, he has said I haven’t accomplished what he has in his career, which is a lie,” said Coleman. “I went to people’s backyards and I have beaten them. I’ve always been pretty much an underdog in my career. Most of my career, I fought at heavier weights because the money just wasn’t there so…I gotta work and I’ve got to box. You know what I’m saying? It just wasn’t worth my while to keep making 140 pounds so I would fight at 154, ‘58, ‘47. I’ve been all around the world boxing. I sparred with guys like Ricky Hatton, [Alfredo] Angulo. Stevie Forbes, I used to box with him all the time when I was a kid growing up. Ben Tackie. Floyd [Mayweather Jr.]. Zab [Judah]. You can name the elite of the elite that I’ve sparred with and been to all these different camps because I am somebody in this boxing game. He’s trying to make his name off of me.”
Coleman got on a roll about Paris.
“This kid is pretty ghetto. He doesn’t have a lot of class,” said Coleman. “He has this fantasy world like he lives this lavish lifestyle which…he still lives in the ghetto in Detroit just like I live in the ghetto in Vegas, man. You know what I mean? Like, like, to be honest, neither of us is really nobody in the boxing game yet and he will not become somebody by bad mouthing me because I am going into this fight to inflict as much pain as I can. It’s not even about winning. It’s about hurting him. He said some stuff that really set me off and I’m going to sit him down for it.”
Perhaps Coleman’s best win to date is his third round knockout of Patrick Lopez last October. The punch was perfect, a rear right uppercut that rocked Lopez’s world and sent him crumbling to the mat. He tried to rise but fell again and referee David Mendoza waved it off. The fight showed that Coleman could step up against a slick, aggressive veteran and that perhaps 140 pounds is where he should live as a fighter.
“I called that fight from the beginning,” said Coleman of the bout. “I studied that game plan for a long time to kind of see what I gotta do. I didn’t even really watch much tape on Patrick Lopez. I looked at him, saw he comes forward. He leaves his chin out and I was like, ‘Yeah I’m going to knock him out with a right hand rear uppercut and that’s exactly what I knocked him out with. I feel like I am one of the best punchers in this business.”
Coleman went on to call how he saw the Paris fight playing out.
“We can pretty much call the Vernon Paris fight. We’ll beat his body to death. Don’t even look for his head; you know what I’m saying?” he said. “You get hit once or twice coming in but he backpedals when he gasses in fights. You know Floyd Mayweather Sr. left [Paris’] camp because he doesn’t feel that he has what it takes to beat me; you know what I mean? Whether [Sr.] shows up or not, it’s going to be the same result.”
I asked Coleman where it all started, how he got involved in the sport.
“Actually, man, my dad brought me to the gym when I moved to Las Vegas when I was about 13 years old,” he said. “A friend of his knew Floyd [Mayweather Jr.] and he asked him where to take me. He said Nevada Partners Boxing Gym. That was one of the best gyms in Vegas, if not the world. So many world champions came through there, guys like Montell Griffin, Floyd Mayweather, Steve Forbes, Angel Manfredy. The who’s who of boxing champs came through that gym. Lennox Lewis. Mike Tyson would come through and talk to us when we were kids, man. That really made me love fighting. I would skip school to go watch the pro fighters train. Every day. If I didn’t watch them train, I was up there sparring with those guys. I have a lot of experience. I have been around plenty and I’ve been there. If a top fighter doesn’t know me, he’s seen me before. Even if he has never seen me in a pro fight, he’s seen me at a fight, in camp walking around somewhere. In L.A. Vegas. Germany. England. You name it, dude; I’m there. Puerto Rico. Everywhere. Anywhere where there is boxing, I am somewhere lurking.”
Coleman told me that his move to Las Vegas at age 13 changed not only his geography but his life for the positive, reuniting him with his father and introducing him to his chosen profession and life’s passion.
“I was born in Baltimore, man. I moved to Vegas when I was 13. My grandmother, she had cancer and she died when I was 15 years old,” Coleman explained. “She felt it was time for me to go with my dad. My parents had me pretty young, so my grandmother raised me. By the time I hit 13 and started misbehaving in school, it was really time for my father to take a more active role in my life and she sent me out there with him and it did me a lot of good. Don’t get me wrong, man. I was always kind of a screw-up but you know, boxing kept me grounded. It kept me out of the penitentiary. It made my life better than it probably would have been if it wasn’t for boxing and my father.”
I asked Coleman what he loved about boxing. Was it the discipline it gave him or something else?
“To be honest with you, I hate the discipline part, man,” laughed Coleman, “but I love that feeling that you get after a fight when they raise your hand. It doesn’t last for long. Probably like, 15, 20 minutes, you’re like in awe of yourself. It’s not like other sports where it’s a team; you know what I mean? I’ve never been a team player or a follower. I’ve always done my own thing and boxing let me shine by myself. I was too short to play basketball, not big enough to play football; you know what I’m saying? I just wasn’t that great at any other sports but fighting is something I had always done before even before I started boxing.
“I used to get jumped as a kid all the time in my neighborhood; you know what I’m saying? Like every day, kids used to jump me,” said Coleman, amused. “We’d used to play together ‘til the end of the day and then at the end of the day, I was the one they jumped; you know what I mean? I used to fight those guys hard but then when I discovered boxing, I learned a different way to use that. When I learned how to fight, man, it did a lot for me. I love this game and I always will.”
This fight, to be shown on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights,” will be contested at 140 pounds and will be Coleman’s fourth fight in a row at the weight following a long stretch at welterweight with a few junior middleweight bouts thrown in. To Coleman, who considers himself to be a puncher despite his five knockouts in 21 fights, the weight will be the difference.
“I think I am a boxer/puncher all the way. Look up my record and look at the weights I’ve fought at and wonder why I am not knocking guys out” he said. “Maybe it was because I was outweighed and it really wasn’t my natural weight. I don’t go into fights out of shape but if they want me to [fight at a higher weight] and they are offering 500 more dollars, alright, lemme in there!
“I think  is my natural weight as a boxer,” Coleman continued. “I fought at 147 before…I’m not saying I can’t fight at ’47. I’m short but I’ve always been short so I don’t know what it feels like to be tall. I don’t really feel like tall guys give me a serious problem. Like when I lost to [James] De La Rosa, I weighed in at 147 pounds and that was with all my damn clothes on. He weighed in at 149. I still took the fight and lost by one round. I lost one round of a unanimous decision against a junior middleweight. That says a lot. The body shot he hit me with, it would put anyone- especially Vernon Paris- down.”
Bringing it back around to his current focus, Coleman went on to tear further into Paris. This time, he attacked his work ethic, experience and toughness.
“Me and Vernon Paris have been training in the same [place],” said Coleman. “He’s been boxing with my friends. They have been dropping him left and right; that’s why Floyd Sr. left his corner. He’s not doing what he is supposed to be doing. He doesn’t have the physical toughness. And this is what I know from watching him fight. He’s an excellent boxer. He has good hand speed and good foot movement but he doesn’t have the real aptitude of a fighter. When he gets hit, he wants to retreat instead of fire back and when he does fire back, he fires back because he gets caught. When a real pro gets hit with good shots right, he doesn’t get excited and this is what I think is the difference. When I crack him, he’s going to get excited and fire back. I’m way physically stronger than him. I’m the bigger puncher in the fight. He’s going to go to sleep because he is going to make a lot of mistakes. I couldn’t see it going any other way than me putting Vernon Paris to sleep or me just walking him down until he gasses out, then we turn into a fight and he gets stuck with a right hand or even a left hook. Watch tape on him. He hasn’t fought any fighters. John Brown. Emanuel Augustus. These are guys in their prime when I was 14, 15 years old. They’re old. They’re guys out there trying to make a couple bucks like most fighters do in the twilight of their career.”
Friday night, Vernon Paris won’t have a faded fighter in front of him nor any other type of prospect test. He will have Tim Coleman to deal with and with any luck, the animosity stewing here, coupled with two aggressive styles, will bring us yet another “Fight of the Year” candidate.
You can email Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.