By Derek Bonnett: For anyone who saw Matt Godfrey’s come from behind KO of Emmanuel Nwodo last August, it’s easy to forget that the highly rated cruiserweight contender actually returned to the ring three months later to outpoint Edward Gutierrez. It was a wild affair with Godfrey climbing off the canvas to open a geyser of blood on the bridge of Nwodo’s nose to prompt a stoppage the Nigerian himself didn’t contest.
Having been reporting from ringside that night, immediately afterward my only thoughts were about when we were going to get to see Godfrey test his mettle against a more serious cruiserweight threat. Since the start of 2009, Matt’s been scheduled to face, or at least rumored to be, former heavyweight contender Herbie Hide and, the reigning cruiserweight king, Tomasz Adamek.
Godfrey, 28, hit the gym with his trainer, ‘Iceman’ John Scully, to prepare for each foe, but neither bout ended up coming to fruition leaving Godfrey inactive for the longest stretch of his career.
"Matt was ready to take both of those fights in his mind," Scully assured the boxing world. "He has never just come out and said no to anyone, but boxing is a business at the end of the day and fighters like Matt can’t just fight whoever he wants anytime he wants to. They have promoters and managers behind them who have a say in what the fighter does, they have to get the best deal and not let the fighter get taken advantage of. So, sometimes when certain fights don’t happen it isn’t necessarily because a fighter is actually scared or not eager to face a certain opponent. It’s just that the business end of things didn’t line up properly."
Instead of meeting Godfrey, Hide met journeyman Sandro Siproshvili, 15-4 (5), in 2009 and Adamek will meet thirty-five year old Bobby Gunn, a first round knockout victim to Enzo Maccarinelli in 2007.
Scully tried not to let the circumstances complicate things anymore than need be and expressed his feelings about Gunn receiving a title shot over his charge.
"Well, I know Bobby personally, great guy, and if we couldn’t get the fight then I’m glad he did," Scully stated.
A positive attitude will probably carry Team Godfrey a lot further than merely brooding over lost opportunity. The latest rumored opponent for Godfrey is one time prospect Aaron Williams for July.
"I actually just heard about that proposed fight today on the internet. I’ll know in a day or so if it is in fact a sure thing and if it is, then it is," Scully admitted. "I’m not concerned at all with any inactivity because Matt is always doing something and in recent months he’s really made some great strides in regard to his mental strength when it comes to his boxing. He’s young and strong and his preparation in the gym will carry him no matter what."
Godfrey, 18-1 (10), is currently ranked #5 by the WBC and #7 by the IBF. His NABF cruiserweight title should keep him high up in the rankings, but nothing beats keeping your ranking high than knocking off the competition.
Scully isn’t concerned with ring rust since he’s had Godfrey in the gym working for all three proposed fights for the better part of 2009. In the eyes of the former world light heavyweight title challenger, it’s all going to come down to mindset.
"It’s an old cliché, but it’s very true that boxing is in large part a mental game. You take two identical guys, same age, weight, ability, power, talent and conditioning, and give one of them a high level of confidence in his preparation and he’ll run right through the other guy ninety nine percent of the time," Scully reiterated. "Matt seems to be at the point where he has that dose of confidence."
If only all cruiserweights felt the same way.
June 4, 2009