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Derek Bonnett

Colin Morgan Takes The Standing Eight Count

By Derek Bonnett: Colin Morgan is among the most admirable men I have come across in the sport of boxing. In the handful of conversations we have shared, I quickly deduced the vastly underrated boxing trainer as a self-less man by nature and one who operates by one of the most pure senses of altruism I have ever come in contact with.

The common good rests heavily on Morgan’s mind and it has led him to become a rebel of sorts. It’s a shame that word “rebel” has come to have a negative connotation in the world we live in today. After all, it takes a rebel to make change on any level. If it hadn’t been for a few rebels throughout American history, we wouldn’t have witnessed the abolition of slavery or the strides made in support of women’s suffrage.

Colin Morgan is rebel with a noble cause or two that he’s willing to fight for. His acts to help others have not gone unrewarded as he now works with one of the sports most promising young prospects, a seasoned new world champion, and a still well-regarded former titlist among others.

Here’s what was said when I gave Colin Morgan The Standing Eight Count:

DB: Colin, the last time we spoke you were trying to get some reform done to the boxing legislation to protect trainers from being treated unfairly and to protect their best interest. How is your mission going? Who have you been talking to?

CM: I filed a petition with the New York State Athletic Commission last December seeking financial protection for trainers. Unfortunately, the Commissioner at the time said that he had no authority to make the changes we need and want.

Undeterred, I took an edited copy of that same petition to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissioner, Greg Serb, who instantly took action by suspending any boxer who fights in the state of Pennsylvania and does not pay their trainers or cut-men. I recently spoke to the new Commissioner of the NYSAC, Malvina Lathen, who promises to look into our complaint and to find a way to protect trainers. I am very excited about this.

DB: What are some other concerns you have for the sport of boxing and how would you like to see them handled?

CM: I am also concerned about the careers of young boxers who want to turn or have already turned professional and are having difficulties getting fights. After the Golden Gloves and Olympic years there is a large volume of young and talented boxers. Young boxers look to trainers in this beginning stage, and we have a hard time getting them started in their careers in a viable way. A common practice is that promoters will give tickets to a fighter to sell to whomever he or she can in lieu of money. This puts an additional burden on the young fighter. This is another area in the sport of boxing that people need to bring attention to and then address.

DB: How long have you been working with Guillermo Jones? What is your opinion about his current progress and where do you see him fitting in with the rest of the cruiserweight division?

CM: I started training Guillermo Jones in May of this year. This was his fourth try for a world title. He worked hard and trusted me. Dudley Pierce did a great job in conditioning Guillermo, and this made it easier for me to focus on technique and strategy. The work paid off, and he is the new WBA world cruiserweight champion. If he continues with the same effort and dedication, he could unify the division.

DB: Aside from Peter Quillin, you also work with prospects Elio Rojas and Mike Mollo. What does the immediate future hold for them?

CM: I am getting Mike Mollo ready for Jameel McCline in what will be his biggest fight so far. The fight is November 7 in China. Mike is very eager to learn as much as he can from me and cannot wait to use those skills against McCline. Mike has a great attitude; training him has been a pleasure, and we have developed a nice bond. Mike knows that the last Italian American heavyweight champion was Rocky Marciano and thinks it is time for another Italian to hold the title. This is what is driving him.

Elio Rojas recently fought Hector Vasquez and won a 12-round unanimous decision and is the number one contender for the WBC featherweight title. Elio is very talented, and if I were to wager, I’d bet he’ll be a champ.

DB: What is the situation with Quillin’s recently canceled November 21 bout in New York? What kind of opponents are you looking to put him in with once he returns?

CM: Peter has a sore hand, so we’re being cautious and pulling him from the November 21 fight. His next fight will now be January 17 on HBO Boxing After Dark; this will be a bigger fight. Peter has done perfectly so far, and now it’s time for the next step up in class. We are looking forward to winning a world title in 2009.

DB: What was your opinion of Bernard Hopkins’ upset of Kelly Pavlik?

CM: I didn’t consider it an upset that Bernard Hopkins won that fight. Bernard comes from the old school of boxing, along with the likes of James Toney and Azumah Nelson. They know when to hold and when to punch. Sometimes it’s ugly, but if they smell blood, they are coming in for the kill. However, Kelly Pavlik has nothing to be ashamed about. He is a young and courageous champ and should not be thinking about changing his trainer. There was nothing more his trainers could have done; he was in great shape. Kelly just needs to take this as a lesson, watch the tape and try adding some things to his arsenal. Upsets are one reason why boxing is the sport that hooks all of us, but I saw this one coming.

Db: What’s your opinion of Oscar De La Hoya, a junior middleweight, challenging Manny Pacquiao, a fighter who started his career as a flyweight? What is your opinion of catch-weight bouts overall?

CM: Oscar De La Hoya is one of the biggest names in boxing of recent times, so it’s every boxer’s dream to fight Oscar. Oscar came up in weight himself and fought as high as middleweight. I wish Pacquiao good luck and hope he doesn’t get hurt. As for catch-weight fights, they have kept boxing going for the past five years or so: Roy Jones fought John Ruiz, De La Hoya vs. Hopkins, Tarver vs. Hopkins, etc. etc. As I said earlier, I think part of the answer is that we need to groom the young boxers so we can find the next De La Hoya, Jones, and Hopkins.

DB: Fighters move up in weight and chase new titles. As a trainer, what types of goals do you set for yourself? What will you use to measure career when all is said and done?

CM: As a trainer I have spent my time in the trenches. Just like boxers, trainers move up in class, starting with amateur fights, then four rounders, and finally all the way to world championships. I have had my share of amateur and four-round fights. After a lot of hard work and sacrifice, I am now at the championship level. I have been fortunate to work with some amazing talent: Andrew Murray (who fought Ike Quartey and Michele Piccirillo for world titles), Andrew Six Head Lewis, Gary St. Clair, Wayne Braithwaite, Bert Cooper, Sultan and Timor Ibragimov, Larry Donald (who had his biggest win, over Evander Holyfield, with me), Guillermo Jones, Elio Rojas and Peter Quillin, among others, and now, I am training Corey Spinks as well.

Any trainer, myself included, wants to have as many champs as possible, but when all is said and done I would like to be remembered for the difference I made in the lives of young people and also for my own personal fight to ensure trainers get the respect they truly deserve.

October 30, 2008

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