Graves: "The best guy out there is Quantis Graves. I want to showcase my skills."

8CN’s David Hopper caught up with undefeated cruiserweight prospect Quantis Graves (9-0, 4 KOs). The 31-year-old New Orleans native, who currently lives in Beaumont, Texas, won a unanimous decision over hard-hitting veteran Joshua Harris in his last fight this past September.

DH: When I last spoke to you in March you were coming off a win over veteran Martin Verdin. Since then, you have won three more fights and improved to 9-0 (4 KOs). What did you think of your performance in those three victories?

QG: Well, the Martin Verdin fight was a little bit challenging considering that was my first six-rounder. After Martin Verdin I advanced to Joshua Harris, who is a veteran guy, a knockout artist. He has knocked out a lot of guys that were undefeated. He didn’t knock Quantis Graves. He was a southpaw, a guy that comes forward. It was a pretty challenging fight. He’s a great power puncher, but it was all from distance. He can’t fight inside. I came out victorious.

DH: Like you said, Harris has stopped several previously unbeaten fighters and fighters with only one loss. However, you managed to win on almost all the scorecards in your decision victory. Would you say Harris was your toughest opponent to date?

QG: Yeah, he was, he was the toughest guy so far of the nine fights I’ve had.

DH: Before Harris, the fighters you fought were 0-8 and 0-6, respectively. What did you take away from a “step-up? fight like Harris?

QG: First, it developed more confidence. I think I’m ready for something a little bit more challenging than him as of now. I came back to the gym and I worked harder and harder. Harris is a guy, a big puncher, and one that got me to work on throwing the right punches, keeping my hands up and throwing the right punches at the right time.

DH: You said Harris wasn’t a very good inside fighter. It sounds like most of his KOs came by way of punches from the outside. Did you know that from watching film of him or was that something you discovered during the course of the fight?

QG: Yeah, I watched a lot of film on Josh Harris. I knew he was a guy that comes forward all the time. The majority of the guys who he boxed would get tired because they would walk backwards. My thing was, hey, I see these guys are afraid of Josh Harris. I’m not going to be afraid of Josh Harris. If he wants to fight Quantis Gravis, Quantis Graves is gonna box his ass off. I can hit just as hard as you can, but you can’t fight me on the inside. If you can get a southpaw to run backwards you can beat him all the time. I showed no fear. I knew for a fact that he was a converted southpaw. Being that he was a converted southpaw, which means his right hand is stronger than his left hand, so I went the opposite direction of that hand. Those guys boxed him like a normal southpaw, stepping on the outside of the right foot. OK, that’s fine, I can understand that, and I respect that, but when you do that you’re walking directly into his power being that he’s a converted southpaw. I went to the right. I went to my right to take away his right hook. That’s what I did.

DH: All your fights but your last one have been in Louisiana or Mississippi. Your last fight was in Rhode Island. Do you see yourself traveling more for fights in the coming year?

QG: If the fight is right and the money is right, I wouldn’t mind fighting in the South. However, I really want to take my talents to somewhere else. I don’t really want to be known as one of those fighters from Louisiana that’s been fighting all bums because my talent is way beyond what the nation is saying. Granted, we have some good fighters down here, like Mason Menard. He’s a great fighter. Hats off to him.

DH: I see what you’re saying. Sometimes you see boxers who will pad a record in a certain region and people will doubt their boxing abilities. Do you feel that if you go to other people’s backyards and other places in the country that will do a lot for your reputation as a boxer who is willing to take on all comers wherever?

QG: Right, right. That’s another thing. A lot of guys doubted me for taking that fight. I knew in my heart I was training hard and that I was going to win. Josh Harris was going to have to fight harder than he boxed to beat Quantis Graves.

DH: In recent years, a lot of the cruiserweight champions have been from Europe. American Steve Cunningham, for example, had to go to overseas to places like Poland and Germany for his title fights. Are you OK with the fact that you may have to go to someone’s home country to win a title?

QG: Well, my thing is, I respect those guys, but what I really want to do is I want to put the cruiserweight division on the map here in the U.S. Just because I’m a cruiserweight boxer, I’m still stylish. I can box just like the light heavyweights, the heavyweights, the Floyd Mayweathers and those guys. Cruiserweight boxers need to showcase their skills more. I think there should be a bigger market in the U.S. for the cruiserweight division. That’s what I think personally. That’s why all the fighters are overseas. People here, when you ask them about the cruiserweight division, most of them can’t even name one fighter in the division. A lot of guys don’t know that Holyfield boxed in that division before. There are cruiserweights out there than can fight, but right now, the best guy out there is Quantis Graves. I want to showcase my skills and I’m ready to take the challenge.

DH: The division seems to be overshadowed by the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions in the eyes of a lot of American boxing fans. Right now, Marco Huck of Germany, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk of Poland and Yoan Pablo Hernandez of Cuba are three of the top guys. Other than yourself, do you know of any American up-and-coming cruiserweights?

QG: Right now, as of now, the only guy that was doing something that was pretty decent was “Fast? Eddie Chambers. Eric Fields was a great guy. He’s fighting in New York on the 16th of November. There’s another guy Alex Guerrero, which is Fernando Guerrero’s brother, Rafael Murphy, Al Sands, and Andres Taylor. I wanted to fight any one of those guys, especially if the time is right and the money is right. It has to make sense. I actually wanted to fight Alex Guerrero, but they turned me down. It’s just one of those things.

DH: What’s next for you? Do you have an upcoming fight scheduled?

QG: My name is out there. I’m just trying to get a fight. I’ve been turned down by several guys. I’m just waiting right now and I’m in training right now. Hopefully I fight by the end of year.

DH: Do you think fighters turn down a fight with you because they don’t want to take the risk? Maybe because a lot of times they are prospects too, and they feel like they’re not ready or they’re scared to fight an undefeated fighter like yourself at this point in their career.

QG: Yeah, it’s possible. I just want to showcase my skills and show that I’m working hard. I’m ready.

DH: Are you still working full-time as a corrections officer in a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas? How has that been going?

QG: I’ve been promoted to a recreation specialist. Now I can train more with my schedule. I’m grateful for that.

DH: Anything you’d like to add or say to the boxing fans out there?

QG: This is what I really want to say. I want to give props to Deontay Wilder. Deontay and I boxed in the Olympic trials. He beat me in the finals of the Olympic trials. People doubted him highly. It takes skill but it also takes will and determination. Deontay Wilder showed that when he got the bronze medal. He will be the next heavyweight champion. I’ll be right there at the top greeting him and shaking his hand. I just want to take my hat off to Deontay Wilder. The thing I respect about him so much is that he remains humble and he remains the same person he was when I first met him. I can call Deontay and if he misses my phone call he will call me back. I won’t keep him long on the phone. I just say, ‘Hello, how are you doing?’ One day I asked for some autographed gloves from him and a week and a half later my doorbell rings and it’s a package from UPS, some gloves and autographed pictures from Deontay Wilder. A guy like that who never forgets where he came from is already a champion in my book. 

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