Lou Duva

The boxing trainer....part coach, part father, part svengali, 
perhaps, even part spiritual leader. In this Boxing Wise
exclusive series, Boxing Wise's own Cornerman talks 
to some of the premier trainers in the game to separate the myth 
from the reality. This unique series will focus less on the 
personality and celebrity of the fighter and more on the art and 
science of what goes into making a great fighter. What you will 
read will be a frank discussion with the men who make not only 
their business knowing fighters but in many cases have centered 
their whole lives around fighters and the trade of boxing. The 
boxing game rarely gets more attractive when you focus your eyes 
most sharply at any one component of it, yet there is one definite 
certainty in this game and that is the commitment and devotion to
the game displayed by the men in the corner.

     Appropriately enough, our first discussion is with boxing's 
quintessential man behind the scenes. Far more than a trainer, Lou 
Duva is the patriarch of the boxing empire known as Main Events. 
Over the years his stable of star fighters speaks for the quality 
of Main Events.  Along the way Duva has been behind a list of 
fighters that includes names like Whitaker, Taylor, Holyfield, 
Pazienza, Lockridge, Bramble among others. Not one to rest on his 
laurels, Main Events is now set to dominate through the millennium 
across the weight divisions with a new set of names that includes 
Vargas, Tua and Judah. I spoke with Lou from his Main Events 
headquarters in New Jersey and as expected (and as he trains his 
men) he pulled no punches.

The Cornerman: Lou, what are the ideal physical attributes you look for 
               in a fighter?

Lou Duva: It's not so much the physical traits that are importan't I look 
          at a fighter's mental traits, their character, that's what's 
          really important. It is things like attitude, do they have 
          enough self-discipline, will they be able to self-sacrifice.
          Do they really want to be a good fighter and have a good career 
          or do they just want to make a lot of money.

The Cornerman: In training, coach how do you tailor the work to the fighter 
               especially at different ages. Right now you have an older 
               fighter in Pernell Whitaker and a younger fighter in David 
               Tua. How does their training differ?

Lou Duva: I look at things like their body structure and body type and 
          what they are capable of but also I look at their character. 
          What can you detect....what time are they coming in at night....
          what time are they getting to the gym....Are they asking to do 
          fewer rounds....Are they there to train hard....Do they come in 
          the next day and say "Hey, I hurt my shoulder, I want to go easy 
          today"....You really gotta know your fighter. You got to know if 
          they're a bullshitter. I start looking at whether a fighter is 
          starting to go backwards. I look at Evander Holyfield and the 
          last couple of years that I  had him he started going backwards. 
          It wasn't so much that his body wasn't up to it, he was taking 
          shortcuts. I'd ask him "What'ya want to do". He was spending a 
          lot of time on TV with  Arsenio Hall, with Hammer, he liked doing 
          that and I told him not to go through with the last fight (Bowe 
          III) but he insisted. He decided there, I walked away from him, 
          not that he walked away from  me. 

The Cornerman: What about now, Lou, do you want to see Evander continue 
                to fight now?

Lou Duva: Nooooo, I don't want to see him fight anymore.

The Cornerman: Have you ever walked away from a young fighter?

Lou Duva: Sure, I told Meldrick Taylor to get out but he wanted to go with 
          Don King . Now he's walking around on his heels. Same thing with 
          Livingstone Bramble I brought him to the championship of the 
          world and then you couldn't talk to him anymore. You couldn't 
          coach him he thought he knew everything. Now he's still fighting 
          for $3500 a fight.

The Cornerman: What about Eddie Hopson. What ever happened to him?

Lou Duva: Same sort of thing. He was a prospect but you couldn't tell him 
          anything. I brought him to a title. He was fighting at 130 then 
          he was 140, 147 then 157.

The Cornerman: Where is he now?

Lou Duva: I don't even know.

The Cornerman: In terms of training for a fight, How do you like to structure 
               the camp?

Lou Duva: For a title fight, for a big fight, I like to start four or five 
          weeks out. That means though, I want the fighter coming in shape 
          with their weight down like they've been training back home. I 
          don't necessarily want them  boxing but I want their weight down 
          and within one week in the gym I want them ready to box. 

The Cornerman: How about sparring, how many rounds per day do you want 
               your guys going?

Lou Duva: I don't want him boxing everyday and I don't want boxing 10 or 
          12 rounds a day. They may go four rounds of boxing and then 
          another four to six rounds on styling....how to beat their 
          opponent. Is the opponent a southpaw?....is he a runner....? so 
          much is spent on teaching. That's so important. How are you 
          going to beat this fighter.

The Cornerman: Do you spend a lot of time with the videotape?

Lou Duva: That's how I spend all my time, watching videotape. Studying 
          how to beat an opponent.

The Cornerman: Whom would you pick for your top three pound-for-pound 

Lou Duva: Well, I think you go with Roy Jones, I think you go with Oscar 
          but I like to think of my own guys. We got a new guy, Zap Judah 
          who's number one in the world, he's going to be the next champion. 
          Fernando Vargas is a great fighter.

The Cornerman: In Zab Judah you look like you may have another Whitaker, 
               Do you consciously go after fighters of a certain type, 
               in this case, crafty, hard to hit left handers?

Lou Duva: No, not necessarily, I've had Zab since he was 16, and I told him 
          to sit on the ring and study Pernell, over and over and over and 
          so he did. I have the luxury of having a lot of great fighters 
          around and I tell my young fighters to study the older guys so 
          they can learn from the masters.

The Cornerman: Speaking of Pernell, what have you got planned for him, is 
               he going to stay in the game?

Lou Duva: I'm trying to get him to hang 'em up. We had his jaw operated 
          on with plates put in. I think it's time for him to hang 'em up.

The Cornerman:  Do you think he will, he's a pretty competitive guy?

Lou Duva: He better buy it! I think he'll come around to us. I'd like to 
          see him work with us. Work in the corners, work at the press 
          conferences and be part of the family.

The family, the Main Events family. In this day and age family is not the 
first word that springs to your mind when you think of boxing management 
teams. For Lou Duva, this family's patriarch, there is no other way. Tough, 
fair and with his people's best interest at heart, Lou continues on. 
Praising his men when they need it, getting tough when they need discipline 
and always being in their corner. Lou continues on.

Just like any good father would.