Preparation is the key to winning.
That's the philosophy of Tavoris Cloud, International Boxing Federation Light Heavyweight Champion of the World. The Quincy native defeated Clinton Woods in a battle of punches for the championship belt at Seminole Hard Rock Casino Aug. 28 in Hollywood. The fight went the length, 12 rounds, before a unanimous decision from three judges was delivered.
"I didn't know it was going to go 12 rounds but I was prepared for 12. Either way, I was prepared. I had done a lot of strength work, punching in the pool and rack work, which is good for both strength and conditioning," Cloud said Monday afternoon as he rested at home in Tallahassee.
Boxing fans Roosevelt Mitchell and James Denson of Quincy talked about Cloud's victory in the ring Saturday afternoon as they waited to pick up orders at a local fast food restaurant. Mitchell said he watched to entire bout and never believed that Cloud wouldn't prevail.
"You can look at a fighter and tell when he has that certain confidence. Cloud had the confidence Friday night," Mitchell said, adding, "and when he gave a shout out to Quincy on national television, that took the cake."
While the public was seeing the smiles of a champion, Cloud said as soon as the fight was over he was diagnosed with a stomach virus and had to go to bed.
"I was so pumped up for the fight I didn't know I was sick until it was over. I have the best adrenalin in the world," said the 27-year-old.
Cloud said while his time is almost equally divided between Tallahassee and Quincy, he considers Quincy home. His roots, he said, are in Quincy, as well as a majority of his relatives.
But Friday night under the lights with the world watching, Cloud was a long way from the Shaw Quarters neighborhood where he grew up with his mother, Emma Smith, and four siblings.
Smith, who sat ringside, was excited for her son's accomplishment but not surprised. She said at the end of the fight he looked over at her and said, “See Ma, I told you we were going to make it.”
As a child, Smith said, Cloud had a lot of drive and stayed focused, and he was a hard worker. He often raked yards in the neighborhood and sometimes came home with $15 or $20 for an afternoon's work. He would offer it all to his mother.
"We weren't rich and I was a young mother. But I promised my children they would never be hungry and they would never be cold. I also told them that they would have to work hard for what they wanted and Cloud has worked hard for this title. He didn't wake up Friday morning and become a world champion Friday night. This has been over 12 years of hard work and sacrifice for my son and his family," Smith said.
"The only advice I have for young people today is that they should stay focused and find an outlet that is positive. Do something to keep their time occupied. Everyone can't be a world champion but everyone can do something to be a positive role model," he said.
According to reports, Cloud's win gave him the biggest payday in the 5 years since he turned pro, $95,000. Within 6 months he will have to defend his belt, according to IBF rules. But Cloud, who will not train for a few weeks, said he's ready for some "good, old-fashioned soul food."