By Clarence “Bones” Adams
On May 3, I went to breakfast with Clarence “Bones” Adams to take advantage of his experience and extensive knowledge about the sport. - Margaret Goodman, MD
When I started in boxing, I was five. I was raised in Henderson, Kentucky. My brother and I would get beat up in school, so my Dad, who loved boxing, took me to learn how to protect myself. I loved it, even at five. I probably had over 200 amateur fights. I was the youngest kid to win the National Junior Olympics at 14. I even got the Outstanding Boxer Award. But there was no room for me to go as an amateur and I didn’t like how they were run. So, I turned pro at 15 in Tennessee, then Missouri. I remember filling out the application. I had to lie about my age and said I was 16! I was 17 when Nevada let me fight. I remember Marc Ratner coming down to see me spar with Kennedy McKinney.
PROS IN THE OLYMPICS
I don’t have a problem with that. Some of the other countries, they have guys fighting in their 30s. I don’t think it would be unfair because you are a young fighter. You’re not scared; you don’t give a s—t how old or experienced your opponent is. The older fighters won’t listen to their trainers. If a young fighter’s trainer tells them something they are going to do it whether or not it kills them. The younger fighter has a stronger will to win, better endurance. The only thing they don’t have yet is the strength, but it is the fearlessness that makes you win when you are young.
There is nothing more important than being with people you can trust. Besides my dad, I have been with Keith Jackson since I was 13. There was never any reason for me to change trainers. We always won and we always worked on new things. He is the best because he doesn’t let his fighters get lazy. If things become too easy for me, he switches the training. That is the key. When your body gets too used to something, you have to change your training or you won’t get better.
You have to have a trainer that won’t lie to you. Too many trainers lie to their fighters because they don’t want to lose them. They want the money. It also makes the trainer feel better about them. Makes them feel like they are getting something done. Some of them will also lie to themselves. A great trainer will tell you the truth. Sometimes you see fighters that change trainers all the time. They leave great trainers because they can’t handle the truth.
Keith won’t train a fighter if they are lazy. He’ll run with us in the morning. He believes a fighter has to concentrate. He can’t get away with just going through the motions. Some fighters just can’t handle that the same thing with Buddy McGirt. I think he is a tremendous trainer.
People with real talent can slack. To people with talent everything comes easy. “Oh, I don’t have to run this extra mile because I have talent; I don’t have to train this hard because I have talent.” But it is the fighters with less talent that are the ones that become great because they work the hardest. Look at someone like Evander Holyfield or Troy Dorsey. Maybe they are not the best boxers in the world, but they always stay in shape; they are so ready. Me, I can be lazy. But when I am in training camp there is no way. Training camp can be boring; I mean claustrophobic. But then I know I will be in shape.
I haven’t really grown since I turned pro at 15. My first fights were at 130. I quickly found the best weight for me was 122. Now it is harder to make weight, but if I were to move up to 130, then I have to fight guys who should be fighting at 140. They have bigger, bigger shoulders with longer reaches. That is why we all fight at a smaller weight. So you can get the power. There is no way to change that. Right now I feel I am out of shape. I am about 132. But I can’t walk around at anything less than that.
WHY DO FIGHTERS HAVE PROBLEMS WITH WEIGHT….Is it age? Is it success?
You don’t know how it is. When you start out and you have no money, you eat thin little steaks. Once you gain success and the bigger you get, so do the steaks. You go to better restaurants and are offered more. Eating becomes part of success. It then becomes difficult to keep weight off and difficult to lose it. Before Derrick Harmon’s last fight he asked me how to lose the weight. Hey, I just said, “It’s easy, quit eating!” (For a late breakfast, “Bones” had a Smoothie followed by a Spanish omelet and bagel).
I never wanted to watch films of my opponent. Here is the thing, you watch a guy fight, and you get prepared for that. Then he comes out and they do nothing like they did before. If you train for everything, a boxer, a puncher, whatever, no matter what comes at you in that ring that night, you are prepared.
Now my trainer will watch films and prepare. He will then sit down with me and work on strategy. He will work on me with different things depending on the opponent. That is why I hate fighting people twice because then you have expectations. When I won the title, I never saw Nestor Garza until the weigh-in. I never saw him fight until the first round.
PREPARATION FOR A FIGHT
I like to go to training camp about six weeks before a fight. When I am not scheduled to fight, I don’t spar. I believe that too many fighters ruin themselves by giving it all up in the gym. Gym wars are bad. Too many take sparring too personal. Then they have nothing left for the fight and this is how they get hurt. It takes too much wear and tear on your body. This is one reason why fighters get problems later on.
The first 2 weeks I will spar 4-6 rounds, 3 days a week. The second part, 6-8 rounds, then 8-10 rounds. Before a championship fight I will spar 12 rounds twice within a week, week and a half before my fight. I will stop sparring about 3-5 days before, and then I continue hitting the pads and running.
Between fights, I go to the gym 3-4 times a week. I don’t want to go to the gym every day or I’ll burn out. If I burn out here, I’ll have nothing left for camp. Now I am trying to get in better shape between fights, so I don’t have to spend the first two weeks of training camp doing that. My definition of being in shape is being able to run and train without getting tired.
AFTER THE FIRST AYALA FIGHT
I was so upset after that. I didn’t even remember what I told Larry Merchant in the interview. That was why I didn’t try the second time. I didn’t want the to try like I did the first time and get my heart broken. I knew I had won. I still took the second fight even though I thought I would get screwed again. I was sick in camp, I knew I could have canceled, but I how could I risk turning down $500,000. I guess it sounds like greed, not really greed but I couldn’t afford it. I am not Oscar De La Hoya, worth how many millions? I knew I could take the fight, not get hurt and if I lost HBO would still be there.
I never had hand problems, none, until the Garza fight. I broke my hand and I didn’t wait long enough to let it heal. Then, I fought Andres Fernandez and broke it in the exact same spot. I had surgery and waited about 7 months before sparring again. Now my hands are good.
IF I DIDN’T BOX
I would like to do anything with building. I couldn’t do an office job. I would like to do something where I could look back at the end of the day and see that I accomplished something.
If I did anything in boxing I would like to be a cutman. You don’t have to deal with the boxers. You don’t have to worry about appearances. You come and do your job. If I were a trainer it would drive me crazy if a boxer didn’t do what I told them. I worked a corner a couple of weeks ago. I was told the guy was in shape. After the second round in the corner, he was breathing hard. I mean, how could he come to fight like that? I wanted to slap him or say, “Stop the fight, this guy ain’t gonna win.” Bottom line; don’t get in the ring if you are not prepared to go the distance.
THOUGHTS ON DRUGS/ALCOHOL AND SUCCESS
From the time I was real young I never tested anything. Then once I became well known, I met famous people and saw what other champions did. They were successful, they had money, they used drugs, drank, and they ran around. I saw this. It was hard to not associate this with success, real hard. I think that all of that takes away from your talent. But like I said before, it is the ones with talent that get the laziest. I think that if I never drank I would have been even more successful. I hardly ever drink now, but I hate that I have a couple of beers when I am not training for a fight. At least I would feel better about myself.
If I had to give advice to a young fighter, it would be to not abuse your body.
WOMEN IN BOXING
I strongly believe that women’s boxing will never really amount to anything. All you have to do is see what happens in the gym much of the time. They are either with trainers that are really dirty old men or trainers than don’t know much about the sport. How can a woman possibly become successful with someone like that?
No fighter wants to retire and if they do they come back. Not always for the money, although that is a big reason for most. Look at it this way. If you are a doctor and you decide to retire, you sit home, and for a while you find things to do. But then after some time, it isn’t what you thought it would be. It is the same thing with boxers. The first year you say, “Hey this is great.” Pretty soon you wake up in the morning and say, “What do I have to do today. Nothing!” So, you come back. Most of the time all a fighter can do is fight. I mean, look at Genaro Hernandez. Before he stopped boxing, he started commentating. He was smart and found something else to do.
Hey, we all know which guys should quit, but maybe they can’t or won’t see it themselves and no one will tell them. Some of these people around them even care, but it is tough. Plus, they are making money off them. So, they may tell them, but they aren’t going to push it. A fighter needs someone with no interest in them telling them to stop. They need a test to compare how they are now with how they were when they started.
I know I don’t sound the same. My memory isn’t even as good and I am just 27. On the other hand it is a good excuse! Hey, if I can’t remember something, I can always say, “That’s because of boxing…and what can they say!” It happens to everyone, some more than others.
(Clarence “Bones” Adams trains and lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his girlfriend Amber and two new Boxer puppies (Scooby and Roxy). He has even asked obviously multi-talented trainer, Keith Jackson, for advice on training them. Bones had an exceptional amateur record of 176/4. His professional record includes 41 wins (19KO’s), 3 draws, 5 losses. He is the former WBA super-bantamweight champion 2000-2001.)