With a perfect record of 18-0 with 17 wins by way of knock out, newly crowned USBA, NABA and NABO light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud may be the best-kept secret in the light heavyweight division…maybe in all of boxing.
That shouldn’t last much longer. The secret will be out soon enough.
At a time when Bernard Hopkins, Antonio Tarver and Roy Jones Jr. are ending their illustrious careers with mega bouts, Cloud, just 26-years-old, looks primed and ready to rule the light heavyweight division for the next decade.
Last Friday night, before a packed house at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom, Cloud faced off against Mike Wood (19-7-1) for the three regional titles. In the first minute of action, Cloud dropped Wood with a straight right. Wood beat the count, but couldn’t endure Cloud’s attack. After delivering a series of perfectly placed punches, Cloud ended things at 1:23 of the first round with a brutal left uppercut.
Entering this bout, Cloud was rated #5 IBF, #8 WBO and #9 WBA. Scoring this dramatic knock out, with the sanctioning body officials ringside, will undoubtedly secure him top-5 rankings by all three organizations when they release their updates.
“Earlier this year, we sent DVDs to the IBF, WBO and WBA champions,” said Cloud’s trainer, Al Bonanni. “No one wanted any part of him. He was too risky to face when it wasn’t mandated. Now, Cloud will have to be given his shot.”
Winning his last eleven bouts in Chicagoland, Windy City fight fans have come to consider Cloud one of their own. A Tallahassee native, his growing fan base understands that every time they see Tavoris Cloud fight, they’re witnessing something special. Cloud’s relentless attack reminds many fight aficionados of a young Marvin Hagler.
“There’s more to me than being a big puncher,” Cloud explained. “I consider myself a boxer-puncher. I haven’t had a chance to really show my boxing skills because I’ve been getting my opponents out of there so quickly, but I always learn something in every bout. Even if it lasts only a few minutes, I learn something. I’m a student of the game.”
Now, with all of the pieces in place, Cloud and his team look to share his brand of excitement with fans around the world. Promoted by A-Team and 8 Count Productions, plans are being made for Cloud’s next bout to be televised by a premium cable outlet for a title to be determined.
Cloud’s road to champion began 10 years ago, at the age of 16.
Possessing an unusual maturity for a boy his age, young Tavoris recognized that in order to keep himself from being swallowed up by the streets, he needed to find a productive way to spend his free time.
“I knew if I was just running the streets, I’d be in trouble at best and dead at worst,” he said.
Raised in a tough neighborhood in the Florida panhandle by a single mother of five, Cloud happened into a local boxing club and saw his future. Over the next four years, as Cloud was racking up an impressive amateur record of 45-8, his brother, just one year his senior, was being sentenced to life in prison.
“I knew at a young age that I had to choose my path,” Cloud said. “I chose boxing. My brother chose differently.”
In 2000, Cloud won the U.S. Under-19 National Championship and traveled to Budapest to represent the country in the World Under-19 Championships.
During the semi-finals of the 2002 U.S. Championships, Cloud beat the very experienced Armed Forces light heavyweight champion DeAndrey Abron of Army. In the next round, Cloud lost a controversial decision to highly touted Curtis “Showtime” Stevens of New York who now holds a professional record of 18-2 with 13 KOs at super middleweight.
“After what happened at the US Championships, I was fed up with amateur boxing and that scoring garbage, so I got ready to turn pro,” Cloud said.
Cloud made his professional debut in 2004 when he beat undefeated Luis Reyes (3-0, 3) by third round TKO in Ocala, Florida.
Of Cloud’s 18 professional bouts, Columbia’s Jose Luis Herrera (14-3, 14 KOs) hung in there the longest. In August of 2007, a desperately outclassed Herrera delivered a head butt in the fourth round, opening a bloody cut over Cloud’s eye. Cloud entered the fifth looking to end it and end it he did. Herrera succumbed to a huge overhand right at 1:45 of that round.
Cloud has gone the distance only once. In May of 2005, in his sixth professional bout, Cloud won a four round decision against a veteran opponent.
Early in his professional career, at Bonanni’s Miami camp, Cloud sparred with, and did well against, former cruiserweight champion Jean Marc Mormeck and former light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson.
Cloud lives in Tallahassee with his wife and young daughter. His wife attends Florida State University.