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Calloway: Briggs is 'ripe for the taking'

Interview by David Finger

After a career that has spanned nearly 18 years, it appears that Rob “All-American Prizefighter” Calloway (70-11-2, 57 KO’s) is close to calling it a career.

Besides owning one of the most successful fitness clubs in St. Joseph, Missouri (the Team Calloway Family Heath & Fitness Club) he also has started working as a physical therapist. It appears that Calloway looks poised to enter his post-boxing life with more going for him than most former fighters.

But for a fighter who so frequently appeared on the verge of breaking into the world rankings, there is still something he still needs to do in the boxing ring. A world title fight no longer seems to be a possibility, but Calloway realizes that a win over Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs this Friday would put him in line to leave the sport with the big payday that has eluded him in the past, and he feels that Briggs is ripe for the taking. Despite knocking out his last two opponents in less than 30 seconds, most boxing insiders feel that Calloway is a considerably tougher fighter than Rafael Pedro and Dominique Alexander. Most still regard Calloway as a prohibitive underdog, but Calloway recognizes the opportunity he has before him, and he promises that Briggs will be in for an extremely tough fight come May 28th. Calloway took some time to talk to Fightnews about his career and his upcoming fight with Briggs.

How are you doing Rob?

I’m doing real good. I got a day job for the first time in 10 years. I got my degree in college when I was an amatuer boxer, and I turned pro…in 1992. (At the time) I gave up working as a physical therapist but now I got back into it. I fought all over the world, in nine different countries. But I kept my degree and just got my license back and the local hospital has been hiring me as a home heath physical therapist. I enjoy it and we still have our health club.

With you first “day job” in over ten years, do you feel this has affected you training for this fight with Briggs?

I feel real good. I knew about the fight since three and a half weeks ago. I had some sparring and done well. And I always stay in shape.

What is your plan for the heavy handed Briggs?

Stay away from him and his heavy hands. The difference is not to get hit with his right hand. I think the first three rounds will be critical. Don’t let him get off with anything clean and don’t mix it up with him too soon. The longer the fight goes the better for me.

You’ve indicated your career might come to an end at the end of this year. Would the upset over Briggs make you reconsider that?

Yeah, it would. If I win over Briggs, I am looking to ride this thing out as long as I can. I’d like to get some big fights in the boxing world as well as a nice payday. Yeah, I’ll stick it out for a few more. But thank God I have my education and a good job to fall back on; I know a lot of fighters don’t have that.

A lot of people said that Briggs seems like a “man on fire” based on his last two knockouts (both in under 30 seconds). What is your assessment of Briggs and his place in the heavyweight division?

Look at the guys he fought! If I fought the guys he fought I’d look like a man on fire right now. I’ve had 75 wins, they can say what they want and call them bums if they want, but me living in the Midwest, they don’t have the same intimidation factor. And I won fights in three different countries. People can say those are good fighters, I won my last five ESPN fights, last time I lost on ESPN was against Jameel McCline by decision and I did better against him than Shannon did.

How does Briggs compare to the other world champions you fought in the past (Chagaev, Rahman)?

I think Rahman hits harder, but I think I’m a lot better fighter than I was when I fought Rahman. I went in to that fight and slugged with him because up to that point I never had been hurt. But the name of the game is to hit and not be hit.

Do you think Briggs might be looking past you?

I hope so. Look at the last couple guys he fought! They are nobody. I got a resume that deserves respect, I don’t know if those other guys have any wins to talk about. He better come prepared to fight, and prepare to go longer than 30 seconds because he is not going to knock me out in the first round.

You are a fighter who has remained considerably more active than most heavyweights in amasing over seventy wins. It appears that Briggs might be following a similar strategy right now, with three fights in two months since coming back. Do you think Briggs frequent fights in short periods of time is a benefit or hindrance to him?

It could have been beneficial if he had a punch thrown at him in his last fight. How is that fight beneficial? I hope Briggs is looking past me, thinking I’ll be like the other guys he chose to fight. But I’m not, it’s going to be a much better fight than what’s he’s use too.

What is the biggest asset you bring to the table against Briggs?

I can punch. I got sixty knockouts myself. They may be the same type of guys that he’s beaten, but there are some quality guys there as well.

Shannon Briggs’ career has gone through some ups and downs, and one fight I’d like to talk to you about is a fight in which he was heavily favored against another Midwest fighter: Sedrick Fields. Back in 2000 Fields scored the shocking upset over Briggs. Have you tailored your strategy at all after that fight?

Sedrick is a buddy of mine, and he’s a guy who puts his hands up and doesn’t get caught with the big clean fights early. He was able to put his hands up and not get caught. I’m going to do the same thing; I think it’ll be an interesting fight. I know Sedrick and I have watched that fight a few times.

You’re stint at cruiserweight was moderately successful, but ultimately you didn’t get the title fight at cruiserweight. Your return to the heavyweight division has been a bit spotty. What do you foresee with your career right now?

Actually, at heavyweight I won several in a row, and then I returned to cruiserweight and I haven’t been back to heavyweight until now. I returned to cruiserweight because I wanted to get a world title fight. I had to fight a Russian southpaw, and then a Russia over in Russia. Some people say I should have fought at cruiserweight (sooner) but my biggest wins were all at heavyweight.

How much longer will you be fighting?

I’m always considering, we’ll see what happens. I love coaching boxing. My son…he loves the sport and does real well. I am going to continue to do it as long as I can.

After a career that has spanned 83 fights, what is the one thing you feel you still need to accomplish in the sport?

Actually, there are a few no-contest that were initially ruled as knockouts. I actually had eighty-eight pro fights. My record really is 75-11-2, 60 KO’s. I’ve had so many great fights, but I never made the big six figure payday. I’d like to get one six figure payday before I retire. I won on TV, I fought former heavyweight champs, I won in foreign countries. But the big payday seems to have eluded me. I think I deserve it. I won 14 in a row recently, and still never got the call.

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The “ICB Knockout Series” is promoted Jack Fulton of the International Championship Boxing group. Tickets are $25, $50, $75 or $150 and are available at the box office. A limited amount of V.I.P. packages ($575 and $2500) are still available by calling 800-245-1599. Doors open at 7p and first bout at 8pm.

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