Editor's note: The ring announcer may say "Tallahassee," but everyone here knows his roots are in Quincy.
When Quincy native Tavoris "Thunder" Cloud stepped in to the boxing ring and faced off with Yusaf Mack the only thing on his mind was winning.
And that's what he did. Cloud defended his International Boxing Federation light heavyweight title with a technical knock out (TKO) in the eighth round. The win brings his professional record to 23-0.
"The referee called the fight. I gave him a left hook to the head. He stood up but he stumbled and started going for the body. I could see it in his eyes that he wasn't going to make it. He didn't want the ref to call the fight. He threw a lot of punches but they were baby punches. He tired himself out, I could hear him breathing hard in about the 5th round," Cloud said of the number one contender for the belt he earned last year.
Mack's frequent punches were no match for Cloud's barrage of inside punches. He said he studied Mack's boxing tapes and knew that he would sometimes swing wild. The fact that Mack is taller than Cloud by about 3 inches, made his job easier.
"A lot of boxers have a certain style. But he didn't really have a style he was all over the place. If he tried to move I just cut the ring off and contained him," Cloud said.
The fight was held at the Family Arena in St. Cloud, Mo., near St. Louis, on June 26 and the Cloud-Mack fight was the second on the bill of nine fights.
In the past year, since Cloud's last fight, he has gotten a new promoter and he's looking to get a unification fight through the world famous boxing promoter Don King.
"Right now the are four light heavyweight belts worldwide. I want a unification fight so that I can at least get the other belt that's in the United States. There's another one in Europe and one in Canada. But it looks like my chances of fighting for the Canadian belt are better than the one in the U.S. or Europe. The way it works is that their promoters know they can make more money and their fighter can last longer if they don't fight in a unification fight," he said.
Since "Thunder" found Don King he has stepped up his game too. King is the person who dubbed Cloud with the alias "Thunder" because every fighter, according to King, who is a champion has to have a name befitting his rank.
"We were up in King's office one day and he was trying to come up with a name for me. They threw a lot of names around and it ended up with "Thunder," which was also a play on my last name. I like it," he said.
King also changed Cloud's training. Earlier this year he spent six weeks at the Don King Training camp in Ohio. Cloud said it's the place where boxers like Muhammed Ali, Leon and Larry Spinks and other heavyweights trained.
The camp was a long way from the Shaw Quarters neighborhood where Cloud grew up in more way than one. The nights he and his brother spent watching boxing matches and karate on television seemed, to him, like he had walked into his own dream when he went to the camp. The experience was one that the little boy from Quincy always thought he could achieve.
"I'm motivated. I want to make life better for my daughter, E'lisha, and my wife. There is always, of course, the financial motivation," he said.
You can watch Cloud's title defense and some of his other fights on YouTube.