After winning the IBF world lightweight championship in September of 2014, the world should have been at Mickey Bey’s (23-2-1) feet.
Instead, four-and-a-half years on, his title lost outside the ring, horrendous inactivity and a promotional nightmare ruined all the momentum he’d gained.
But now, he’s back under new management and ready to get back to where he believes he belongs – the very top.
Last week, Cleveland, Ohio’s Bey took some time to discuss his career highs and lows in a Q and A with WBN.
Q: First of all, Mickey, you’re now with Prince Ranch Boxing under the management of Greg Hannley and Oscar Vasquez. After everything that’s happened over the last few years, you must be incredibly relieved to have your career back on track?
A: Yeah, definitely. I’m a very dedicated, disciplined fighter. I’m ready to get right back to it.
Q: Do you intend to campaign at lightweight or super-featherweight?
A: Either weight, you know. Whichever I can get an opportunity at, I’m willing to fight at either weight class. I pretty much usually weigh right in the middle, between the two. Whichever weight I can get an opportunity at – I’ll fight anybody at either weight.
Q: Who’s your current trainer?
A: That’s kind of still up in the air. I trained with Floyd Mayweather Sr. pretty much all my career. I’m not sure what I’ll do yet. I’ll let you know as soon as I lock it in.
Q: You’re thirty-five now, but after so much inactivity, you must be feeling quite fresh?
A: Oh, definitely. I’m disciplined, you know. I don’t party, never did any drugs, I don’t drink. I actually feel better now because I eat better and I sleep better. I’ll reverse the clock like a lot of the other legends did (laughs).
Q: How long do you hope to fight for?
A: I still don’t want to fight too long. Maybe a couple of years or a few years at most because I don’t want to be one of those guys that’s fighting forever. I’ve definitely got a few good years in me, so I’ll give it all I got. Hopefully (I can) contribute back to the sport in another way when I’m finished.
Q: Let’s rewind to 2014 and the night you took the IBF title from Miguel Vasquez on the Mayweather vs. Maidana PPV. You were obviously on top of the world at the time. Why did things then seem to go so wrong for you and your career with Mayweather Promotions?
A: I had an inexperienced manager at the time. He’d never managed a fighter before, he was young and (there was) just a lot of miscommunication. That’s what pretty much slowed me down all the way up to now. That’s pretty much what it was. If it was up to me, I’d of been fighting.
Q: After your world title fight with Rances Barthelemy (for Bey’s old belt that he lost outside the ring), we then didn’t see you in action for over two years. At times on twitter, it was as though you were pleading for fights. Why couldn’t you get them and what was happening when you were asking for fights?
A: To sum it all up in one word, I could say ‘politics’. I hated being out because I saw there was a lot of good fights I could’ve been in, and put on some good performances and fought some exciting fights versus fighting guys like Vazquez who’s got an unpleasing style. Rances is an excellent fighter. He’s the guy that people don’t want to fight because he’s got a good, awkward style. I want to be in some fun fights as well with some good matchups. That was a real hard period, but I stayed positive and sharp and stayed training and I really didn’t miss a beat. Now, I’m very sharp.
Q: It was reported in 2015 that you had a title defence scheduled with Denis Shafikov, which you subsequently pulled out of. I read that you turned down $200,000 and it then went to purse bids for a much smaller amount. What’s the real story?
A: I didn’t turn it down. Nothing got turned down. I actually didn’t know about it. I’d got hand surgery after I fought Miguel Vasquez. I wasn’t ready to fight. It got announced in the media without me knowing – that’s where I was speaking on the inexperience of my manager – so, I heard the news when everybody else did (laughs). I didn’t even know about it. That’s when things kind of started going downhill. I had to earn my way by fighting off TV for small purses after that, but never once complained at all. I just did it.
Q: How tough was it financially during that time? The loss of earnings during that spell was quite substantial for you.
A: It was hard, but one thing I did was learn a whole lot on my time off. I did learn a lot about real estate and that kind of helped me. Of course, nothing is like making six or seven figure purses in one night. To make no boxing money with the talent that I got for years is super hard. I got a good family and my parents and family never asked me for a quarter, but, me as a fighter and a man – I want to help. It’s kind of hard when you’re not fighting and getting those paydays, even if you make something for yourself, I’m still doing this for my family and my parents. That was the hardest part for me.
Q: Is it true that Ricky Burns recently turned down a fight with you?
A: It wasn’t really official. That’s a fight I would have liked. It wasn’t real close to getting done, but my name was in the pot. I guess he picked some other fighter. That is a fight I’d have loved to take. I feel the UK’s got the best boxing fans in the world. I wouldn’t even mind coming over there to fight.
Q: Maybe Eddie Hearn should be your promoter?
A: Yeah, exactly man. Hopefully the blessing comes through that I deserve. Everything is starting to look good. Hopefully I’ll be back in the ring to get one fight and then I’m ready to go full steam ahead. After that, I’m ready for anybody.
Q: Finally, what would you like to say to the fans and what can they expect from Mickey Bey going forward?
A: I’d like to say my comeback will be real inspiring to show that as long as you stay positive and do what you’re supposed to do, everything will come back together. You can’t give up. It’s never over. As long as you’re still breathing and healthy – don’t give up. I’ll show that when I come back. Me not giving up and staying disciplined and focused will pay off. Never give up – that’s my message.
Ian Aldous is a contributor to World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @ian7685