Bryan, who is making his ShoBox debut, is looking to establish himself in the heavyweight division after a standout amateur career in which he won five national championships in just 60 bouts. Since his debut at 22 in November 2011, the 6-foot-4 heavyweight, who recently turned 26, has registered 10 of his 11 knockout victories in three rounds or less.
Here’s what Bryan had to say:
How would you say your career is going?
“My career is going great. I can’t wait for this great heavyweight fight. Rossy is a guy who is on his last leg and I’m a young fighter coming up who is trying to take the old dog out of his misery.”
What type of role did your amateur career play in preparing you as a professional?
“My amateur career played a huge role in my development as a boxer. Attending all the national tournaments and fighting against top athletes from all over the world played a big role in my professional career. I have seen all different styles of fighting. I also went to several sparring camps in my amateur career and have sparred against Wladimir Klitschko and Guillermo Jones, among other champions.”
Some people chalk up your undefeated record to the fact that you haven’t faced any tough opposition. That will change when you face battle-tested veteran Derric Rossy. How are you preparing for the toughest test of your career?
“I’ve been doing everything that is physically possible to get ready for this fight. I stay in the gym and work hard. I have a great work ethic and have a great team around me. I feel confident and know that I will come out with the victory. The hours that I have put in the gym will pay off. I am in fantastic shape, I let my hands go, I have one of the best jabs in the division. I’m ready to show the world what a wonderful fight this is going to be.”
Although you won your last fight against Stacy Frazier, you were knocked down for the first time in your career. What did you learn in that fight?
“I touched the canvas for the first time in my career. It was a great learning experience for me. We know that it only takes one punch in the heavyweight division. I went into the fight with confidence. I threw a punch and was off balance, he countered me with a great shot and it woke me up and reminded me that it only takes one punch to end a fight. I learned to not play around, but instead to set the pace and see if my opponent can hang with me in the ring. The great champions are the guys who get knocked down and are able to get back up and finish the fight.
“I feel like I am world championship material. I learned a lot in the Frazier fight and I’m going to make sure that this will never happen again.”
How did you get into boxing?
“I was originally a football and basketball player. I came from a tough area in Albany, N.Y., and I never had any guidance growing up. I owe my career to my amateur boxing coach who was the hall monitor at the middle school I was attending. From day one he looked at me and said that he saw a champion in me. Every single day from then on, he tried to get me in the gym to train. This was when I was 11 years old; I was very arrogant and didn’t understand why I should be fighting in a ring when I could instead be fighting in the streets. That’s the mentality I had.
“One day I decided to go in for a workout and it was the greatest workout I have ever had. I was so tired after that workout that I had to call my mom to have her pick me up, I was so fatigued. From then on I have been in the gym every single day, and here I am today, a product of all my hard work and perseverance. I have a dream for myself that I want to be world champion and I’m not going to stop until I get it.”
What is it like being promoted by Don King knowing his history as a promoter, especially with his success with heavyweights similar to yourself?
“Don King is the greatest promoter in the world. He is not going anywhere. He started this boxing thing and I want to be a part of that history. The first time I met him he gave me a pamphlet of all the world champions he had. From that day on I knew I wanted to be involved with him. He has told me to work hard and not expect anything to be given to me.”
Do you look at an American heavyweight like Deontay Wilder as an inspiration? What type of impact does someone like him have on you and your career?
“Deontay is definitely an inspiration for me. I knew him in 2008 when I was getting him ready for the Olympic Games and just to see him from that point to now being a world champion; it definitely gives younger heavyweights the inspiration and extra desire. It’s hard to get there, but it’s even harder to stay there. No offense to Deontay, but there’s a young heavyweight coming up that’s hungry just like him—me. We will see how long he is able to hold the title. It is great to once again see an American heavyweight back on top.”
How did sparring with veteran, former champions like Guillermo Jones help you?
“Guillermo Jones had so many different styles and different things he was able to do in the ring. He taught me that I couldn’t be one-dimensional and it was great to have that experience. I knew that for me to do my best, I must be able to do different things. He was bringing it to me and I had to harness all my strengths in order to compete with him.”
You are making your ShoBox debut, what does that mean to you?
“It’s mind-blowing. I finally have my chance. For me as the heavyweight to be the main event, it’s a dream come true. I’m ready to show people what I’m doing in my reality. I do not take this opportunity for granted, I have trained so hard and I’m ready to go.”
“After I lay that big jab on him during the first three rounds, I think I should loosen him up by the fifth or sixth round. We’ll see if it goes past the sixth round.”
In an eight-rounder that will open the telecast, Samoa’s 6-foot-2, 280-pound heavyweight Natu “The Truth” Visinia (11-1, 9 KOs) of Tacoma, Wash., will face 5-foot-10, 235-pound Joey “The Tank” Dawejko (14-4-2, 7 KOs), of Philadelphia.
Barry Tompkins will call the ShoBox action from ringside with Steve Farhood and former world champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.