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Bowie Tupou: Heavyweight Knockout Artist Speaks to RSR

Interview by Geno McGahee

“All I can do is train like there is no tomorrow, stay true to myself and my limits on my life.”–Bowie Tupou

The heavyweight division is considered a hopeless wasteland by many that follow boxing. The current champions are not exciting the crowds. The most recognized of these champions is Wladimir Klitschko, a man that holds the IBO/WBO/IBF Titles and is on a great run as of late, but his safety first approach to the game isn’t what the fight fans want. WBC Title holder and older brother to Wlad, Vitali has a similar approach, and WBA Champion Nikolay Valuev is lucky to be a champion by most peoples’ estimation. The list of recycled title challengers is driving the boxing fans farther and farther away, but there is a glimmer of hope. There are some contenders on the rise that are leaving their opponents lying and creating a small buzz in the division.

One of these heavyweights is Bowie Tupou, 18-0, 14 KO’s. Tupou is young at 26 years old and is on the rise in the division, increasing the level of opposition as he moves ahead. With only one amateur fight under his belt, the professional game has been used as his amateur career, plowing through carefully selected opposition that would give him the experience but not necessarily a huge threat to defeat him. He has thus far been flawless and is intent on improving his game and moving to the top of the division.

Tupou has gone through many trainers but has now settled with Eddie Mustafa Muhammad to guide his career, and hone his raw talent into a viable contender for the heavyweight title. In three of his last four fights, he has taken on recognizable journeymen: Otis Tisdale (TKO2), Cisse Salif (W6), and Chris Koval (TKO3). On July 31st, he is set to face Demetrice King, 14-17, 12 KO’s, and it should be another learning experience for the young heavyweight. King has only been stopped on one occasion and packs a punch. Tupou may get an idea of where he stands and what he needs to improve on from this bout.

RSR had the opportunity to speak with the young heavyweight hopeful and discuss the current heavyweight division and how he sees his career playing out in the months and years to come.

GM: You only had one amateur fight and you won that. Why did you have so few fights on the amateur level and how does that affect your approach to the professional game?

I did have one amateur fight because my trainer at that time, Johnny Lewis, made that decision to have one amateur bout and go straight into the pros. So I just listened, trained and went to work. I think that only time will tell whether it will affect me in the ring.

GM: You fought much of your early career in Australia. It’s not really considered a hotbed for boxing. What is the boxing scene like there and was it always your intentions to leave and come to the United States to further your career?

To me I count my nine professional fights in Australia as amateur fights. It has got nothing to do with the fighters I fought because they had more experience than me. I came straight from rugby into the boxing scene so I didn’t really know what to expect. So after nine fights there I decided I wanted to learn more about boxing and that’s when we moved here.

GM: You have had several trainers over your career thus far from Johnny Lewis to Justin Fortune to Jeff Mayweather. What did each trainer bring to your game?

My current trainer is Mr. Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and I’ve been with Eddie just over a year now. He’s definitely what I’ve been searching for in a trainer. A lot people say that it is wrong going from trainer to trainer. At end of the day, it’s all about finding that trainer that’ll bring the best out in me and shows me what I need to learn, rather than telling me to “go in there and smash my opponent.” Eddie has succeeded in boxing, made it to the top and understands what is required to be the best.

GM: In 2008, you stepped up the level of opposition and took on journeyman Otis Tisdale. You stopped him in two rounds. Other heavyweights that have gone on to do some good things have done it in about the same time. Was the point of the fight to accomplish the same feat and stop him quickly as other top heavyweights have done and what are your recollections of that fight?

My fight with Tisdale, I didn’t know what to expect so Jeff and I mostly worked on defense and combinations because Tisdale at the time we fought had already had over forty fights. So I knew he already had a lot of experience and fought some of the best fighters out there. So our plan was to go into the ring, keep my hands up and stay focused.

GM: Cisse Salif is another guy that has really been around the block and can be a spoiler. He’s a guy that took David Tua the distance and lost a split decision. You beat him quite handily over six rounds. What did you learn from that fight and was he the toughest guy you took on to date?

Cissie is a tough fighter. Before I fought Cissie I was inactive for 8 months due to the fact that I didn’t have a manager and there a few things that were uncertain at that time. I had a lot of things on my mind so I wasn’t sure how the fight was going to go but I was determined to go in there and come out on top therefore winning by unanimous decision.

GM: In your last fight, you defeated Chris Koval, another fighter with a winning record that actually knocked down the highly rated Alexander Dimitrenko. You stopped him in three rounds. What did you think of your performance in that fight?

I think that each time I step into the ring I try to not let the adrenaline rush take over me because I won’t go in there with the same plan. With Koval I knew I had to stay focused and I did. I was able to go in the ring with a clear head which allowed me to relax on my punches and follow through with the things that Eddie and I had worked on.

GM: You have a fight coming up in late July against Demetrice King, a guy with a record of 14-17, 12 KO’s. It’s unimpressive on the face of it, but he is a guy that has only been stopped once and carries a big punch. Did you take this fight to prove that you can take a big punch and that you have a big enough punch to stop a guy that is used to going the distance? And what should we expect on July 31st when you face him in the ring?

July 31st, I am scheduled to fight Demetrius King and the way I look at it, it’s not about how many wins or losses my opponents have had. The way I see it, if they’ve had more fights than me, then that’s what counts. I found out from John Benati( Gary Shaw matchmaker) 2weeks ago about King, my original opponent was Travis Kauffman. I’m not sure what happened there but I know that King is a tough competitor, and no doubt he will bring his A game. I am very grateful to step into the ring with him because I can only learn from my opponents and prove to myself that I can only get better. I don’t want to predict anything about the fight so all I can say is do not underestimate your opponent.

GM: The heavyweight division gets the most negative press. What do you think of it and do you think that your style is just what boxing needs to bring some much needed life into it?

It’s sad to see the heavyweight division gets put down a lot. I think the difference now compared to before in Ali/Foreman time, those fighter’s had so much passion for boxing, made it exciting for us to watch in their journey to become the best. Now it feels like some fighters are just doing it for a pay check and then move on. I love boxing and I’m always willing and able to learn so much more about this sport. It’s my life I put on the line when I enter the ring. So all I can do is train like there is no tomorrow, stay true to myself and my limits on my life.

GM: If you were offered one of the champions right now, which one would you choose and why?

I’ll fight anyone. It’s not for me to decide, that’s Gary Shaw’s choice and who ever they line me up with I’ll take it.

GM: Chris Arreola and David Haye are both very hyped. What are your thoughts on them? Any thoughts on the Klitschko brothers, Nikolay Valuev or any other heavyweights at the top of the heap at this point?

Don’t really care for Vitali at the moment. Good luck to him. I’m not in a position to judge Valuev. Don’t have any thoughts on Arreola or Haye.

GM: How long do you think it will be before you step into the ring with a recognized guy like a Sam Peter or Dominick Guinn?

Right now I don’t have a manager, only a promoter so it’s up to them who I fight.

GM: Is there one heavyweight on your radar that you are eager to fight at this point in your career, if and when you get past King on July 31st?

I’m pretty sure Travis Kauffman will be my next opponent.

GM: Do you have any closing thoughts?

Thank you Geno and everyone from Ringside Report for your support and giving me this chance to do this interview. I would like to thank Gary Shaw Productions,(trainer)Eddie Muhammad, (assistant trainer) Morris East, John Elmer and most importantly all the people who continue to have faith in me and what I do, thank you for everything.

Bowie Tupou
Nickname: Bo
Division: Heavyweight
Professional Record: 18-0, 14 KO’s

Date Opponent W-L-D Location Result

2006-02-18 Brian Fitzgerald 0-0-1 South Windsor, Australia W MD 6
2006-03-24 Corey Wainwright 0-2-0 Punchbowl, Sydney, Austra W KO 1
2006-05-12 John Justice 6-5-1 Punchbowl, Sydney, Austra W KO 1
2006-06-09 Vai Toevai 2-6-2 Southport, Gold Coast, Au W KO 1
2006-07-14 Terry Tuteru 0-7-1 Lakemba, Sydney, Australi W TKO 1
2006-08-04 Ramba Sithsianboh 0-1-0 Punchbowl, Sydney, Austra W TKO 1
2006-09-08 Brian Fitzgerald 0-3-1 Wyong, Australia W UD 6
2006-10-21 Alex Mene 2-4-0 Kensington, Sydney, Austr W TKO 2
2006-11-10 Richard Tutaki 15-14-1 Wyong, Australia W KO 3

2007-09-07 John Clark 12-10-1 Santa Ynez, USA W TKO 4
2007-10-05 Harvey Jolly 6-5-1 Corona, USA W KO 2
2007-11-30 Jason Bergman 5-4-1 Santa Ynez, USA W KO 2

2008-02-22 John Clark 12-11-1 Ontario, USA W RTD 4
2008-04-12 Ramon Hayes 15-26-1 Tampa, USA W UD 6
2008-06-07 Otis Tisdale 25-20-1 Uncasville, USA W TKO 2

2009-01-10 Cisse Salif 23-12-2 Tacoma, USA W UD 6
2009-03-28 Marcus Rhode 34-37-2 Miami, USA W TKO 1
2009-05-09 Chris Koval 24-5-0 Las Vegas, USA W TKO 3

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