Welsh pugilist James Todd is scheduled to face Mohammed Kayongo for the vacant IBA welterweight title on November 20. Todd, who styles himself “The Sandman,” recently took some time to answer a few questions about himself and his boxing career.
Fistic Mystic: Please introduce yourself to Minnesota boxing fans, most of whom had never heard your name until last week, when we learned that you will be fighting Mohammed Kayongo on November 20th.
James Todd: Well where do I start! I am 21 years old from Swansea in South Wales. I am from a football [soccer] loving family – my Brother Chris is professional with Torquay United and I started my sporting life as an apprentice with my beloved Swansea City F.C. However, when I got injured I wanted to improve my fitness [and] I walked in to a boxing gym run by Mario Maccarinelli ( Former WBO Cruiserweight champ Enzo’s Dad) and never looked back!
FM: Please also share your amateur credentials along with a brief account of your professional career to date.
JT: From a very early stage in my amateur career Mario, and eventually Enzo Calzaghe when I joined Team Calzaghe, realized that my come-forward style suited the pro game better. I didn’t like the point scoring system in the amateurs and would often get robbed out of a decison. It made the decision to turn pro all the more easier and even now I realize that fights over a short distance – even in the pro game – do not suit me.
FM: What led you to visit the US, and what made you decide to stay?
JT: Well, my friend and former Team Calzaghe teammate Kerry Hope had already made the jump to Talon boxing. He managed to get me a two-week trial and the rest is history. Back home things were not going very well for me, bearing in mind that I am a young professional [who] needed lots of fights; Calzaghe Promotions was really struggling. There is a big recession back home and they were finding it hard to match me, and finding it hard to sell tickets for the shows that they were putting on. It was becoming very frustrating. I was spending a lot of my time sparring with World Class Fighters in the Calzaghe Gym (including former WBA World Champion Gavin Rees) and I found that I could hold my own, but I just wasnt getting the fights, and I realized that enough was enough. When the call came to Join Talon I jumped at it. But I would like to thank Enzo Calzaghe for everything he has done for me, and we parted on good terms.
FM: What has it been like for you, working out at Big Bear and training with John Tandy?
JT: One word: AMAZING! The attention to detail is amazing – John is so supportive with everything that he does for me, no stone is left unturned in the quest for perfection. John and his wife Michelle, who is my dietitian, look at every detail and the one-to-one support and training are spot-on. I am in the condition of my life and would like to thank them for the faith they have shown in me for making this fight for the IBA world Title! Not to mention the fact that I am sparring twice a week in the Wildcard Gym with world class opposition. And I am Living the Dream in L.A – what can I say!
FM: I understand that you may have some fans making the trip across the Atlantic to come cheer for you on November 20th. What do you expect from those fans who do come over, and how do you feel about this show of support?
JT: I have always had a very good following. My style seems to attract support from anywhere I fight. I will say that I am lucky that I have such a great close-knit family who always look out for me. I am hoping that quite a few of them will be making the trip out from the UK, but I also understand that times are hard back home…the lift it will give me if they do make it out will make all the difference!
FM: What kind of boxer are you? What kinds of tactics and strategies does James Todd typically employ in the boxing ring?
JT: Now that would be telling. I have an aggressive style but I can also box. I like to swarm my opposition, however if anyone thinks that I am one-dimensional, tell them to watch me on November 20th and they will see that is not the case. Somebody said on the net I am easy to hit! They are Wrong!
FM: What do you hope that this upcoming fight (for the IBA welterweight title) will do for your career?
JT: People are looking at my record and thinking, “How the hell has that happend? How has he got a shot at a title that the like of Oscar De La Hoya and Arturo Gatti have held?” Well I tell you why: I should have had at least 9 or 10 fights by now – I was forever waiting for a chance to show what I can do and now here it is.
The publicity alone has lifted my profile back home and in the states which is what I need right now. If John had told me not to take the fight I wouldn’t have, but he knows that I am ready and that is enough for me. Here is a chance to make a name for myself and believe me I am ready to take it!
FM: What do you know about your opponent, Mohammed Kayongo?
JT: In a way I feel for Mohammed – he has been inactive for a while and from what I read he has found it difficult to be matched, which I sympathize with. That’s where the sympathy ends, though. I know Mohammed is pretty heavy handed, but he has been stopped early in fights. Also, his inactivity over the last few years is going to hurt him and he is not gonna be able to keep up with me, and with respect, its gonna be a great fight.
I would like thank Seconds Out Promotions, the IBA, Talon Boxing, and John Tandy for the opportunity. And I want to ask the Great State of Minnesota to come out to support both fighters on the 20th of November – its gonna be a war!