Douglas reflects on upset (cont.)
SI.com: Describe being heavyweight champion of the world.
Douglas: It was like a childhood dream come true. My father was a professional fighter and we had lots of books throughout the house. Growing up, I'd look at the centerfold with the champions with their belts on, posing. That was the moment. That was it for me.
SI.com: Some people have credited the upset to Tyson's lack of preparation. Does that ever make you angry?
Douglas: No. That's B.S. to me. Everybody has their own opinion. He was in shape. If he wasn't in shape, he wouldn't have lasted that long. He was prepared. He took a beating. What I was hitting him with in the first and second round was what I was hitting him with in the ninth and 10th round. You're not still in there and taking shots like that with no conditioning. I hurt him several times throughout the fight, but he always came back. He never showed at any time throughout the fight that he was weakening.
SI.com: Did you feel in any way responsible for Tyson's descent into a figure who, for many years, the public viewed as a tattoo-faced villain?
Douglas: To me, he was always like that. [It was] just another way of getting himself ready or psyched up or whatever. He was always the same. It was just that the invincibility thing was removed: He knew he could be beat because he had been beaten.
SI.com: You lost the title to Evander Holyfield in your next fight. With your place in history already assured, were you still hungry?
Douglas: It was such an overwhelming thing, the way it all came about. We were just consumed with everything going on. The next thing you know, we were in court, flying coast to coast, talking to law firms about how we were going to go about these proceedings. It was really ugly. By the time the [Holyfield] fight came around, I was really in a bad way, because I'd never got a chance to enjoy anything. And once it came around it was just unfortunate. It took me a long time to get over that, too. That was really hurtful. It was nothing like I'd imagined it ending for me.
SI.com: Do you love boxing? Not necessarily the sport, but the act.
Douglas: I love the competition, the competitiveness. It's awesome, man. I really, really enjoyed my time as a fighter. It's just that once I obtained that ultimate goal of being heavyweight champion, it wasn't like I thought it was going to be. It may have been if it had been different circumstances of winning it.
But after winning it against all odds, it was a battle from winning the title just to hold on to it, just to be announced as the heavyweight champion -- because after the fight there was a big thing about maybe they should call it a no contest and do it over again. It was a nightmare from the outset. It was terrible. It was really [messed] up to be honest with you. They made it like, "OK, you won the fight but you're not going to enjoy it," and then I didn't. I never got a chance to really exhale or have a moment to reflect. It was like from one fight to the next fight and after that it was like, "You've got to defend the title." And then it was like 90 days to get ready for the next fight. It was really a bad mental ordeal.
SI.com: Do you still follow the sport?
Douglas: Yeah, I still follow it. I like to watch that Pacquiao, man.
SI.com: Who wins a fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather?
Douglas: It's going to be a good fight. I like Mayweather, but it's going to be a good one. I think you're going to be able to tell a lot from this next one -- when they have these two fights. [Pacquiao fights Josh Clottey on Mar. 13; Mayweather fights Shane Mosley on May 1.] When they have to fight each other, I don't know. I'm tempted to lean towards Pacquiao, because he's like no other. But Mayweather is too, so it's going to be one heck of a fight.
SI.com: It's a down period for the heavyweight division but what do you think about the current champions, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko? How do you think they would have matched up against some of the all-time greats?
Douglas: They'd have been in there, that's for sure. They'd have been in there. Give a lot of credit to Emanuel Steward, who's helped them along a great deal and brought them up to speed so to speak. They good champions.
SI.com: Are there any other guys today you would put among the all-timers?
Douglas: Bernard Hopkins is one of the all-time greats, for sure. Him and De La Hoya. Those guys are awesome. Awesome champions.
SI.com: What are your thoughts on mixed martial arts as America's fastest-growing sport?
Douglas: I'm not surprised. I was at first but not now. I could not believe the crowds they draw. It's like the WWF when it first came out. It's huge, man. Wherever they go, they sell out arenas.
I went to one a couple years ago at Nationwide here in Columbus and everybody in that place was on the edge of their seat. I couldn't really understand what was going on, because one guy would be on the ground, the other guy would be trying to punch him, the other guy would be trying to pull him down -- and the next thing you know it was over. But everybody was screaming and hollering and really enjoying it.
SI.com: What was the specific inspiration behind your cookbook?
Douglas: The guy I co-authored it with, Tony Reynolds, and I were talking one day about the experience of being a diabetic. His father was a diabetic and he had to prepare his foods and stuff. And I was telling him about when I was first diagnosed with being a diabetic and I had to start changing my eating ways and eating the foods that I was preparing and how I had to prepare them differently. It was a big difference. I just started experimenting with different ways to preparing the food and that's how it all came about.
SI.com: What's the feedback been like?
Douglas: It's been good. It's been picking up momentum every day it seems like. That's a good thing. Sometimes I just shake my head at some of the things I've been involved with. How life has changed. It's pretty cool. Just hanging in there, man, just rolling with the punches.
SI.com: Have you heard from any fans who have benefitted from it?
Douglas: Not really, but occasionally someone will say they tried a recipe. It's pretty cool.
SI.com: Do you see yourself ever mentoring up-and-coming fighters or getting back into the sport at all?
Douglas: It's a possibility. I've been working with [former manager] John Johnson, with some of his fighters. One time John Russell had some fighters that he was working with and I was working with him. It depends on how quickly things move along. But I'm always open to an opportunity, that's for sure.
I enjoy it. It's cool, I'm earning my stripes to be on the other side. Now I can share some of my wisdom and that's pretty cool. I find enjoyment in that.
SI.com: Just passing it down to someone else like it was passed down to you.
SI.com: How do you want to be remembered?
Douglas: Just as a man who had a dream, went after it and achieved it.