Originally written on BlackSportsOnline  |  Last updated 10/1/14
Tavoris Cloud escape a harsh upbringing and the pitfalls of a rough Tallahassee, Florida neighborhood, to become the current IBF Light Heavyweight Champion of the world. Cloud turned those early misfortunes into fuel for his future.  Cloud entered the boxing gym at the age of 17, and hasn’t looked back since.  Tavoris won the IBF Light Heavyweight title on August 28, 2009 by defeating Clinton Woods, and has defended that belt  four times since then. On March 9, 2013 at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, Tavoris Cloud will get a look at his past and his future, when he takes on the legend himself, Philadelphia’s own Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins.   Tavoris sat down with BSO to talk Hopkins, his past, his future, Don King, and if he’ll ever fight at Heavyweight. *** BSO: What got you interested in boxing? TC: Boxing at the time in 1998, was the only outlet for me.  You didn’t have to try out for or make anybody’s team, you could basically walk in the gym and start training. I started boxing to stay out of trouble, and it was something I could be successful in immediately. BSO: I read somewhere that your childhood was extremely rough.  Not trying to harp on that upbringing or glorify, but can you tell us how you pushed through those times, and how that helps motivate you today? TC: What got me through those tough times was my mom for one. Boxing was the other thing.  You have to some street smarts, and some common sense.  My mother worked a lot, so she would warn us about hanging with the wrong crowds.  She would tell us do the right things, and before she left for work, would tell us, stay your ass out of trouble.  I don’t have no money to bail you out.  Once I got involved in boxing, that took up a huge part of my time.  Trips, training, recuperating from training. BSO: How does that keep you motivated today? I use my upbringing in different ways now.  I remember how far God has brought me, and think Tavoris always do the right things, stay on the right path, stay focused, and don’t blow it. BSO: Who were some of the great fighters you admired coming up? TC: I used to study fights.  James Toney was one fighter I studied.  I watched a lot of Roy Jones.  I could never emulate him, lol, But I loved to see him fight.  Of course he’s a Florida boy right there.  I used to study Evander Holyfield, Joe Louis, Archie Moore.   I loved watching the fabulous four, Hagler, Hearns, Leonard, and Duran.  Evander Holyfield really stood out to me.  I had the chance to meet Evander, and he always told me to be a student of the game, I never forgot that. BSO: I know you are represented by Don King, and Don King Promotions.  How did that partnership come about? Well I was with my former trainer Al Bonnani who I had been with since 2005-2006, and at that time I was only a four round fighter.  Al had already had a relationship with Don King that spanned maybe 30 years.  So when I moved up in the rankings, It was time for him to bring me over to Don King, because he always had a job with Don King.  A couple of years ago after I became champion, I signed with Don King. BSO: How has that experience been working with Don King? TC: Me being with Don King is great.  Don King is a maniac, a crazy man.  A lot of people say some things about Don King.  One thing I know is that Don King is a man of his word.  If he says he’s going to do something, he’s going to do it. BSO: What are your impressions of Bernard Hopkins as a fighter at this point? TC: As a fighter he’s not what he used to be.  Bernard is into playing mind games and stuff. He talks better than he fights right now.  One thing about this fight, he can’t win it by talking, not against me.  If this is how he wants to go out, if this is how he wants to make his last stand, then so be it.  I’m not a big talker, so I’ll leave all that to him.  The fight definitely won’t be won by words.  This is not a war of words. BSO: What kind of fight are you expecting from Bernard on March 9?  He has a reputation for being a crafty fight, sometimes dirty. TC: I expect him to be crafty.  I expect him to be dirty.  I expect him to play on the crowd, the judges, everything.  What I have to do is just go in there and keep punching. I can’t get caught up in the stuff Bernard does. I just have to stay focused on throwing punches and doing what I do well.  I can’t focus on if Bernard is doing pushups in the corner or talking trash.  I have to fight my fight, and not let dude get in my head.  I’m in great shape and he doesn’t fight the full three minutes of every round. BSO: During a recent interview, Bernard Hopkins said that he will win every round of your fight, what are your thoughts on that statement? TC: I’m going to win every round. I’m younger and stronger.  I want it more than he does. BSO: Do you consider yourself to be the best Light Heavyweight in boxing today? TC: Yes I do. I’m not only the best Light Heavyweight in the game, I’m the prettiest Light Heavyweight in boxing also. BSO: Do you feel that at this point in your career as an undefeated World Champion that you are getting the respect you deserve? TC: No I do not.  Bernard Hopkins is one of the first guys to actually go threw with a big fight.  I have been scheduled to have big fights before, and guys would pull out with hand injuries and different things like that. They don’t want to fight me.  Since my last win they really don’t want to fight me.  I had Jean Pascal step up and want to fight me, he almost went through with it, and then he got hurt, and that fight went away.  Lets see if Bernard Hopkins shows up.  I go through with press conferences, I go to their hometowns, two or three weeks later, the fight gets canceled. BSO: Speaking of Jean Pascal, will he be your next opponent? TC: I definitely want to make that fight happen.  I would love to fight him.  He’s going to stay on my radar. BSO: Can you ever see yourself moving up to the Heavyweight division, or fighting as a Heavyweight? TC: Fighting as a Heavyweight, I would love to fight a Heavyweight.  I don’t think so.  You never know.  I would love to move up and take out one of the Klitschko’s.  If the money is right I’d definitely do it? BSO: What advice would you have for a young up and coming boxer try to trail his own path in the sport of boxing? TC: Well, number one, stay out of trouble.  Stay sucka free.  Find a good boxing gym.  Train hard, stick with it.  Be the opposite of guys who like to get in trouble.  Understand that being a loud mouth, focusing on money and jewelry is not the way.  The path to success is lonely and a lot of the time you will be training and working out by yourself.  The road to be a champion is lonely and a hard road.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Panthers coach replaces break-in victims’ Christmas presents

Bruce Arians benches Logan Thomas on Christmas Day

Richard Sherman: Marshawn Lynch having MVP season

Curt Schilling tweeted advice to Johnny Manziel

Aaron Rodgers buys TVs for Packers teammates

Harbaugh smiled when asked about Michigan's bday tweet

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jackie Robinson West Little League accused of cheating

Police: Fire that burned down McClain's home 'suspicious'

Furniture store will refund purchases if OSU wins title

What each NFC team in the hunt should ask for from Santa

Is SI ashamed to mention Jameis Winston on its cover?

Kobe Bryant disappointed Lakers didn't get Rajon Rondo

WATCH: Kenny Smith pushes Shaq into a Christmas tree

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Is the NFL playoff system heading south?

WATCH: Quincy Acy ejected for throwing punch at John Wall

Billy Beane did not want to trade Josh Donaldson

Peyton Manning plans to be back with Broncos next year

WATCH: Blazers announcer botches Damian Lillard call

WATCH: P.K. Subban disguises himself, surprises kids for Xmas

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Packers game is a career defining moment for Stafford

A look inside Jason Grilli's contract with the Braves

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

Boxing News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Dan Le Batard sums up Miami's relationship with LeBron

Is the NFL playoff system heading south?

WATCH: Announcer botches call

Police: McClain fire 'suspicious'

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

Bahamas Bowl ends on crazy Hail Mary

49ers OT Davis takes shot at coordinator

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each Week 17 game

40 great Christmas-related sports names

Nick Mangold and dealing with feelings as a sports fan

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.