By Jake Donovan
Tavoris Cloud isn’t a thinking man’s fighter in the ring, but is smart enough to recognize when change is necessary. That moment for the undefeated light heavyweight titlist came shortly after receiving a controversial decision win over Gabriel Campillo.
The fight took place last February, his last ring appearance to date. The past 12 months and change have been spent dealing with postponements and injuries. It’s not the best laid plan for a forthcoming March 9 title defense against former two-division king Bernard Hopkins, but Cloud (24-0, 19KO) believes fans will see the best available version.
“I’m at the top of mountains,” Cloud says, speaking in literal terms as he has spent training camp in Big Bear, California. “I’m doing road work at 7,000 feet above sea level. The running and physical training has been very different. That’s something that you will see on March 9. I know I’m a better fighter, and better conditioned since training with Abel Sanchez.”
Cloud looked lethargic and lacking rhythm in last year’s near-loss to Campillo. The performance looks worse in retrospect given the Spaniard’s poor showing in a 2nd round drilling at the hands of Sergey Kovalev earlier this year.
“In that last fight, I wasn’t as well-prepared as I am now,” Cloud admits. “That’s what I learned from that last fight. I’m better prepared right now.”
He will have to be on top of his game for his HBO-televised headliner against Hopkins (52-6-2, 32KO), which takes place at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The 48-year young Hopkins – 13 years Cloud’s senior – has been known to take many a fighter out of his element when his back is against the wall. The thrill of chasing yet another undefeated fighter has the 25-year ring veteran anxious to once again shock the world and recreate boxing history.
Cloud insists he has a sound game plan for what will be just the fifth defense of the alphabet title he won nearly four years ago. That plan won’t be revealed until fight night, though he can confidently say in advance it will involve forcing Hopkins out of his comfort zone.
“I’m gonna deal with veteran tactics,” Cloud insists. “I’m gonna make him adjust to my game plan. I’m not gonna adjust to what he’s doing. I’m not gonna worry about what he’s going to do. I’m gonna make him do what I want to do.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox