Amir Mansour Breaks down AJ vs Kltschko, talks Travis Kauffman win & Chasing world title shot
By Michael J Jones
TWO WEEKS AGO in Reading, Pennsylvania, Amir “Hardcore” Mansour scored arguably the finest victory of his heavyweight career with a majority decision over Travis Kauffman. Although one judge scored the bout a draw, the other two thankfully rendered Mansour the deserved winner to raise his record to 23-2-1.
Now 44-years-old, Mansour has done exceptionally well to rebuild his career following a nine-year lay-off which ended in 2010. He has forged a reputation as a fierce competitor who hits hard and fast whilst mixing it with some stiff opposition.
Aside from Kauffman, Mansour has paid his dues in thrilling fights against men such as Steve Cunningham, Fred Kassi and Dominic Breazeale. The latter-named fighter was the last to best “Hardcore” in January of last year. After pummelling the future world title challenger in the early rounds, Mansour suffered a bizarre injury when an ill-fitting mouth-piece caused him to bite his own tongue and spend several rounds swallowing his own blood.
The bull-like southpaw continued through the ordeal but was pulled out after five rounds. The loss and subsequent 14 month lay-off didn't appear to harm him vs Kauffman though. The heavyweight contender looked sharp and followed a solid game-plan to keep mobile while countering with quick left-hands and right hooks.
Livefight caught up with the Wilmington heavyweight shortly after his contest with Kauffman to discuss his victory and his hopes for the immediate future.
LF) Congratulations on your latest victory, did the fight go as you expected?
AM) Thank you, yeah I felt really good in there. He expected me to come out slugging but I gave him things he didn't expect and couldn't possibly have prepared for; jabbing, speed, boxing, and he didn't have an answer.
LF) You pretty much had everything against you in the fight; age (Kauffman 13 years the younger man), height, reach, plus boxing in his home town. Were there any concerns before the fight?
AM) Yes I was worried about the judges but the Athletic Commission got three good judges who scored the fight properly so I was happy about that.
LF) You are 44 now but looked as good as ever last time out do you feel you're still near your prime?
AM) I really don't get caught up in the age thing. I feel great and I know if I show up to fight and I look old and slow the people around me will tell me straight. Plus I'm a realist and I keep a close eye to myself. I feel absolutely great and feel of the competition around right now in the heavyweight division I've mixed it with the very best.
LF) What are your hopes for the future surely you want, and deserve, a world title shot this year?
AM) Yes definitely as long as people stop ducking me. I've gone and won every interim title out there* but I never got no shot. They asked me to fight Deontay Wilder last year but, after we agreed to fight him, he fought Artur Szpilka. I've just got to keep pushing myself and hoping I get my chance.
*In Interim or Intercontinental titles, Mansour has lifted the WBF, IBF, WBO NABO, USBA and WBC belts.
LF) What are your thoughts on the upcoming Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko fight here in the UK?
AM) I really like Anthony Joshua, he's very athletic, big and strong and has the perfect muscular physique. I also see some fortitude and resilience in him too. The last time he fought (vs Eric Molina) I thought he looked a little softer around the stomach and not as ripped. Often guys work their butts off to win the title and then don't work the same to keep it and stay champion so I hope that's not the case with Joshua.
We all saw how it worked out with Tyson Fury I just hope Joshua keeps his head. He's young and very rich already we know that.
LF) Do you still see Klitschko as a danger in the fight?
AM) Klitschko will be dangerous just being in that ring. He crushed everyone as world champion but his last two fights he didn't look good and wasn't up to par. Maybe we've seen the best of him or we could see him rejuvenated for this fight. Only he knows what he has left but if he shows up like he did his last couple of fights he'll lose hands down.
He'll have to be far better than last time to even compete with Joshua. We know Joshua will be in shape, be sharp and have youth in his favour. Klitschko looked slow, inconsistent and his timing was off against Fury and Bryant Jennings so he'll have to really up his game to do anything against Joshua.
LF) Is there anyone in particular you would like to fight next?
AM) I'll fight any of them. I think the majority of the boxing fans would like to see me get a world title shot and I feel as long as they keep pushing my name something has to happen. Joseph Parker really 'lucked up' to become the IBF champion (winning a highly debatable decision over Andy Ruiz Jr). Promoters these days get the guy in the position to box for a title and they're not really ready and then they don't fight anyone so they keep the title.
I feel Joseph Parker would be a pretty easy fight for me and I'd love to fight him. I'd also happily fight the Shannon Briggs-Fres Oquendo winner (WBA title being contested soon). I just want my shot I feel my wins and accomplishments mean I deserve it.
LF) You said you didn't want to get bogged down with the age thing but at 44 you surely are on a tight time-scale in your career?
AM) I am aware that I can't go on forever and the only thing I can do is keep pushing and hope when the time comes it comes. All I can do is keep winning and doing my best.
LF) All the very best for you getting that shot and it's been a pleasure talking to you today.
AM) OK thank you very much any time.