Scott has an impressive, professional mark of 35-0-1 but with just 12 stoppages to his credit. It’s the reason why Scott has been so overlooked.
Reid wasn’t brought in here to teach Scott how to box - that’s never been the issue with this personable Philadelphian – Reid’s job is to change his ring mentality.
“Definitely,” said the veteran trainer, best known for working with the likes of Roger Mayweather, Johnny Tapia and Orlando Canizales, “trying to make him more aggressive. You know my type of style. I believe you [are] a fighter first, so I’m really working on his aggressiveness and his jab. To be more effective with his jab and I’m working on him just being a crowd-pleaser and not just go through the motions with his great skills.”
Scott says of his trainer, “That’s been Jesse’s whole purpose in this training camp and the last training camp, to be more offensive-minded but also to stay dressed down in defense but put a lot more behind my offense. So we’ve been working on it, smoothing up them jagged edges and I’m ready for it.”
The question is, while you can make some technical tweaks to boxers, can you change their temperament?
“Well, I’ve done the same thing with Malik I did with Lamon Brewster,” said Reid, who had a good run with the former heavyweight beltholder, who, despite his punching power, would frustrate everyone involved with baffling passiveness. “I took him from 30 punches a round to 150. And I think you’re going to see Malik be very aggressive and he’s a great body puncher. He has all the skill in the world. And you’re right; I don’t have to teach him the intricacies of boxing but I’ve got to teach him how to be pleasing and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Reid believes he’s making progress with Scott in this regard. But back in February as he built up an early lead on the undefeated Vyacheslav Glazkov in New York, he fell back into an old habit of going into cruise control instead of pressing the gas pedal. “If you heard me in the seventh round, I said, ‘Malik, don’t leave this to the judges; they might screw you. Get out there and show these people who you are.” And what did they do? They screwed him,” said Reid, referring to the fact that they had to settle for an unpopular draw.
Scott says Reid’s point has been duly noted, “Glazkov got off the hook and when I think about it more, as far as a learning experience, they should’ve called the fight a draw because that means you come back in the gym, dig even harder. Do I think I won? Does the world really know I won eight out of 10 rounds? Yeah. But like I said, everything happens for a reason. I’m happy it went the way it did and that won’t happen on the 20th.”
The draw with Glazkov was in many ways a microcosm for Scott’s career. He showed a lot of talent and displayed an impressive skill set for a heavyweight but frustrated fans and observers by not doing more. He admits, in the past, he settled for decision victories by just merely utilizing his long jab and sharp boxing skills. In many ways, boxing came a bit too easy for him.
“Absolutely, there could’ve been a chance of that. You live and learn. If the opportunity presents itself on the 20th, I get Dereck in a position where I get him hurt, I’m going to take full advantage of it and if not, I’m going to use my boxing skills to win the fight. Either way, I’m going to be victorious,” said Scott.
But at age 32, can you actually teach an older dog new tricks? Or can you, in fact, teach a poodle to become a pit bull? You get the sense that Scott should be further along in his career, especially in this era of heavyweights. “There’s a time and a place for everything,” he says, philosophically. “I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe you got guys like Dereck Chisora, he’s got 16, 17 fights; his 14th fight or something like that, he was fighting for a world title [Editor’s note: Chisora’s shot at WBC heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko was in his 18th fight, two fights ago]. My road is different; my path is different - but I’m ready now. The present is what counts the most.
“And if we go by the present like I do and the rest of the world - I’m the best skilled heavyweight on the planet and July 20th is my night.”
Reid concurs, stating, “I think Malik Scott has more talent than any heavyweight that’s out there. But he’s also a better puncher than what he proves he is. He’s just not a finisher, he admires his work. I’m going to get him to where he wants to finish and make the crowd excited.”
But what Reid says is precisely why Scott’s career has languished. There’s never been a question about his boxing acumen. The problem has been his inability (or perhaps unwillingness) to take more chances during fights. He’s been effective but never particularly exciting despite his technical mastery. There’s a reason Scott was given the moniker “80-72” as he racked up one uneventful shutout after another during his days as a prospect under the Main Events banner.
“People think, ‘Oh, he’s good but he’s not [crowd-] pleasing,’ and people don’t want to fight him because he’s too good,” said Reid. Scott is currently promoted by Goossen Tutor, whose matchmaker, Tom Brown admits Scott hasn’t made their job easy with the nature of his victories. But he is convinced this union is working. “I think somehow Jesse has been able to get into Malik’s head to really convince him that he has the skills to fight this way.”
But it has been a process; during their first fight together last September, Scott was rather desultory for much of the night before stopping Bowie Tupou in eight in Oakland. “Jesse was completely frustrated and something happened there between that September and the Glazkov fight where Jesse pulled something off in that gym and Malik went along with the program,” said Brown.
And even then, Scott didn’t finish the fight in a manner that pleased his trainer.
For all the talk of Bryant Jennings, Deontay Wilder, Seth Mitchell and Tony Thompson, Scott is the most naturally gifted U.S. heavyweight out there. But he’s been the forgotten man.
“Yeah, you could say that because of trials and tribulations brought on, like manager problems, injuries, promotional problems,” Scott explained. “I wasn’t able to stay as active as most of my fellow heavyweights in America were. But it’s not a secret that I got the skills to pay the bills. As far as the other heavyweights, I don’t even concern myself or concern myself to them. I just stay in my lane and focus on getting better and like I said, smoothing out my jagged edges in training camp.
“This training camp was a tough training camp. I got through a lot of adversity and I believe it’s all going to pay off on the 20th.”
This is still a work in progress. Chisora will be a good barometer on just where Scott stands in the division and just how much he has altered his mindset in the ring.
When you ask Reid where he sees Scott in one year, he doesn’t hesitate to give offer an assessment.
“I see him as a champion; I really do. I think that last fight made him better mentally and each fight, he’s going to get better. The more he fights, the better he’ll get and the more I’ll push him.”
In recent years, the accomplished Reid bounced around the Wild Card Boxing Club and the Fortune Gym but it looks like he is firmly entrenched now at the Powerhouse Gym in Burbank.
He explained, “The way it came about is the two brothers [William and Norman Dabish, who own the facility] called me, saw that I didn’t work at Freddie’s anymore and also at Justin Fortune’s and asked me if I’d come to their gym and when I heard they had over 3,500 members and they had a basketball gymnasium in it and a 3,000 square foot place where we could put boxing, I was very impressed and there’s a Latin community. This is United Nations [community of several different ethnicities] out here so I’m real excited about it and I really think it’s a great location and we’ve got some great things happening.
“A lot of fighters, now that they found out I’m here, are coming here and we’ve got some young kids that are going to do something. So I’m excited about it.”
The walls of the boxing area are lined with boxing memorabilia and fight posters. You can see the visual history of Reid in this area as well. Yeah, this feels like his place.
“I definitely have [found a home]. I moved my wife from Vegas - which I have a home - to here and I’m bringing my son over here. So things are starting to pick up. I’m having a lot of class fighters come in here now and they like it,” said Reid, who aims to keep things as affordable as possible. “We only charge $25 a month in dues and they have access to all the trainers that are outside our gym. We have a great weight facility; we have a basketball court; we have spin class. We have all kinds of stuff. It’s a great facility.”
So are we any closer to seeing the anticipated match-up between Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov take place on October 19th in Denver? The Russian is on board but Alvarado still hasn’t come to terms with Top Rank, which met with “Mile High” and his manager, Henry Delgado on Monday. Top Rank President Todd duBoef and matchmaker Brad Goodman were dispatched to iron things out with them.
“They had a meeting and the dialogue continued and, y’ know, it’ll take a few days to sort it out,” Top Rank founder Bob Arum told Maxboxing.
The veteran promoter believed the powwow was productive and he was optimistic this deal would get done.
THE MAIN EVENT
Here’s the latest installment of “The Next Round” with Gabriel Montoya and Yours Truly:
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