BKB3 Exclusive Q&A: American Heavyweight Julian Pollard

By Caryn A. Tate on June 26, 2015
BKB3 Exclusive Q&A: American Heavyweight Julian Pollard
“At the end of the day boxing is boxing and it could be outdoors or in a telephone booth.”

“I think every fighter develops his own style. If you try to emulate someone else you’d be kind of cheating yourself…”

Big Knockout Boxing (BKB) is presenting its third pay-per-view event this Saturday, June 27 (10 pm ET/7 pm PT; $29.95). Headlining this event are heavyweights Julian Pollard (6-0, 6 KOs) vs. Rodney Hernandez (7-2-1, 1 KOs), for the inaugural BKB heavyweight championship. (Note: Pollard’s original opponent was Tyrone Spong, an accomplished champion kickboxer with a professional boxing record of 2-0, 2 KOs. Spong sustained an injury in training this week and Hernandez was set as the replacement as of Thursday.) Also featured (among many others—see the full card here) will be boxing veteran Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-3, 18 KOs) vs. Adrian Granados (13-4-2, 9 KOs), as well as up-and-comer Shane Mosley Jr. (4-1, 4 KOs) vs. Jason Kelly (3-0, 3 KOs).

Headliner Julian Pollard kindly took time out of his busy fight week to sit down with me for this exclusive interview.

Caryn A. Tate: What’s it like living in a legendary boxing city like “The City of Champions,” Brockton, Massachusetts? Are you inspired by Brockton fighters like Rocky Marciano and Marvelous Marvin Hagler?

Julian Pollard: For sure—the city has a good reputation for fighters. I always heard about Rocky and Marvin coming up. My family is actually pretty close to the Haglers. I aspire to be a champion like him.

Tate: You used to play college football for Syracuse University. What position did you play? Why did you switch to boxing, particularly when so many young athletes these days do the opposite and choose football or basketball over combat sports?

Pollard: I played defensive end and a little outside linebacker. The choice came after my football career was ending—there was a void coming for me. As a young man I didn’t have a lot of male influences or male figures…my mom did a great job, I give her all the credit in the world, but as I started to learn I started to get in trouble and I found football. Football gave me a structure, a foundation, and I got addicted to that kind of grind and work ethic. Sport opened me up. Then I found boxing—and I fell in love with it when I got into the sport. The discipline and self-motivation. I had some success with it, and as that continued to grow I wanted more things.

Tate: Why did your football career end?

Pollard: Well, I had a chance to go to Canadian League, that was probably gonna be my best bet, but I had to make a quick decision. My son was about to be born, and I had to grow up and make the decision to start earning money rather than chasing my football dream.
Tate: Tell me about your amateur boxing record.

Pollard: 20-4. I did the US Championships, Golden Gloves, and local smoker stuff. It was hard to get fights locally—there weren’t a lot of heavyweights in my area at the time. There’s a few more now. There’s a litter of small guys [from the area], including Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade. I kind of learned from them—even if they were younger than me, they were older than me in the sport. I just tried to learn what I could from them.

Tate: Is it correct that you fought Bryant Jennings in the amateurs? What do you remember about the fight? What did you learn from it?

Pollard: Bryant is exactly what you see out there: a true workaholic, a true champion. He did a lot with a little bit of time. He and I have about the same amount of time in the sport. He definitely came into the ring with a lot; he was always in shape, and the guy learns fast, he’s adaptable. I remember how well he moved and me just trying to score punches. It was hard to score punches on him.

Tate: In sparring are you more focused on power, accuracy, defense, or other techniques?

Pollard: Sparring is more a class. I don’t think trying to boom a guy out of there is gonna get you anywhere. I always try to learn, work on weaknesses, improve on strengths.

Tate: How has your sparring been going in preparation for this fight?

Pollard: It’s been great. I’m making adjustments on the fly, making the adjustments when I need to. I’m feeling pretty sharp for this fight.

Tate: Can you tell us who you’ve sparred with in this camp, and how the sessions went?

Pollard: I’ve sparred with three or four different guys, various pros. I don’t have the luxury of hiring sparring—I have to work around my work schedule. It’s usually the biggest guy in the room.

Tate: What do you do backstage to prepare for a fight?

Pollard: I just try to relax when I’m back there. I used to always pray with my grandma. She just passed a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never prepared for a game or fight without talking to her. My entry song is dedicated to her.

Tate: What goes through your mind in the moments before a fight on your way to the ring? Nervousness, apprehension, excitement?

Pollard: It might be a combination of everything. There’s probably a thousand emotions in every fiber of me. I feel good when I get there. I like to be in front of the crowd, I like to fight, I like entertaining, and I like to win. I feel like a true competitor—I like to compete and win. I try to be present, in the moment, and enjoy it. If I had to write my book tomorrow, I want to say I tried to be great, [talk about] the things I aspired to be. It’s the life of a champion…I look at everything in that way, try to be great every day. I want that to be my legacy for my son, what I’ve shown him. I’m challenging him to be better than me, I challenge my friends around me, and challenge myself—I’m really living. I’m working on being a better dad—I take a lot of pride in being a father, and being a champion in life.

I don’t have to fight for a living. I have a good job. But I enjoy it, and I want to do great things. That’s why I fight.

Tate: Who is on your training team?

Pollard: My trainer is Dave Keefe (who trained Demetrius Andrade in the amateurs). I’ve been training with Dave off and on since I was an amateur—he became my head coach two years ago. I used to train with Eddie Bishop but he just had other things he wanted to do—he kind of gave me his blessing. I still work out there sometimes.

Tate: How would you describe your boxing style?

Pollard: I try to let the fight come to me. I try to be the calm in the storm—I look for my opportunities and try to be basic. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel when I box…nothing fancy. I keep the fundamentals and I’m good to go.

Tate: Who are your favorite fighters?

Pollard: Andre Ward is a great talent. He’s a guy I would look to. He represents a school of boxing. Floyd is a master at what he does. Ali was a great showman. Tyson was one of the most ferocious punchers. Lennox Lewis had a real warrior spirit—he was a real force to be reckoned with.

Tate: Do you try to emulate their styles or are you simply a fan of what they did?

Pollard: I’m just a fan of what they do. I think every fighter develops his own style. If you try to emulate someone else you’d be kind of cheating yourself. You have to learn what your strengths are. I just want to be a complete fighter.

Tate: I understand you fought one bout of bareknuckle boxing, and knocked out your opponent. Why did you choose to do bareknuckle? How did you feel about it during and after?

Pollard: I only did it because it was an opportunity and I couldn’t get any fights. I don’t have a promoter or manager. I do most of it myself. I don’t have a lot of people pulling strings or setting up fights. Fights come to me to yay or nay, and I’ve yayed all of them. I’m looking to get exposed, get more fights, get more active. You only get one run at this. I’ve taken opportunities like that one because this isn’t going to wait around for me. It was just an opportunity to be on TV, get a fight, and get a little money.

Tate: What about BKB appealed to you?

Pollard: BKB seems like they’re developing a new style of combat fighting. They’re bringing more excitement and providing an original and unique idea. It’s the right kind of entertainment that people want in combat sports. More action, more knockouts. BKB is giving every fighter the chance to achieve those things. I hope to grow with it.

Tate: Why is your style a good fit for BKB?

Pollard: I think I can punch with anybody and I can box with anybody. Boxing is about controlling the center of the ring. I look to control that whether I’m in the squared circle or the pit. It’s about our execution and mastering that.

Tate: How does the pit feel in person?

Pollard: It’s a smaller space for sure. There are no ropes, so if you’re a fighter that likes to rely on that kind of support you don’t get it. Those are the biggest differences from a boxing ring…realizing the difference in space and size. But at the end of the day boxing is boxing and it could be outdoors or in a telephone booth. I’m training for either scenario.

Tate: What can people expect from your performance on June 27?

Pollard: I’m a fighter that comes ready to fight every time. I’m about this sport and I think that shows in my work when I’m out there. They can expect to see the same kind of Julian they’ve seen. I look to improve every time and show everybody a better Julian.

Tate: Can the fans connect with you somewhere on social media?

Pollard: Yeah, I have an Instagram account: @team_pollard. You can also use #TeamPollard to connect with me.

It’s great to see all the interest from sites like you guys. It’s exciting to be part of this—when I first got into boxing I read all these different sites like Boxing.com and it’s great to be part of it.

Follow Caryn A. Tate on Twitter@carynatate

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  1. Caryn A. Tate 06:23am, 06/28/2015

    Thanks Frankie, glad you enjoyed it! Yeah Julian is a very positive guy. And he showed better boxing skills & fundamentals in last night’s performance than some current name heavyweights! I’d actually really like to see him take on “Gentleman” George Arias in the near future. These are two young heavyweights I’m actually excited about—good fundamentals and good skill shown already by both fighters.

  2. Eric 06:02pm, 06/27/2015

    Boxing’s version of Arena Football. This is going nowhere fast.

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:58pm, 06/27/2015

    Caryn A.Tate-I enjoyed this interview very much. “I try to be present, in the moment, and enjoy it.” “I’m really living.” I’m guessing his day job is motivational speaker. I for one want to see him in with “Big Baby” Miller….the sooner the better.

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